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Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Theater Gives Texters the Boot 370

Posted by timothy
from the y'all-don't-come-back-now-hear? dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Ever been annoyed during that nail-biting darkened hallway scene by someone turning on their phone to send a text? Well, don't mess with Texas or you may end up on the screen in a public service announcement. Alamo Drafthouse, a local chain of dine-and-screen movie theaters in Austin, Texas, has long waged a war against impolite moviegoers booting out customers who talk or text during performances. Phoebe Connelly writes that according to Tim League, the Drafthouse's founder, a woman was recently warned twice about texting during a screening, and then, in accordance with company policy, was escorted out without a refund. 'I don't think people realize that it is distracting,' says League. 'It seems like nothing, but if you spend as much time as I do at the movies, you realize the entire theater sees it and it pulls you out of the movie experience. It's every bit as intrusive as talking.' The irate customer called up the Alamo Drafthouse and left a profanity-laced (and perhaps slightly inebriated) message decrying the theater's policies, but the theater got the last laugh as they took the audio of the woman's voicemail, transcribed it, and turned it into an in-house preview [tl: Note, YouTube video contains some profanity] that warns theatergoers against cell phone use during movies. 'Part of what we're trying to do is have a comedic message about what to us is a very serious issue,' says League, declining to give any more details about the woman at the center of the recent PSA."
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Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Theater Gives Texters the Boot

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  • by FSWKU (551325) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @04:48PM (#36413220)
    I went to Alamo Drafthouse with some friends a couple of weeks ago when I was in town, and there is NO way this woman could have been ignorant of the policy. Before the trailers there are multiple announcements (some quite amusing) that spell out very clearly that texting, talking, or using your bright-as-twenty-suns cellphone in any capacity are NOT tolerated. They also clearly state that you get one and ONLY one warning. After that, you're ass is outta there. But she apparently chose to ignore the multiple warnings, and now she's pissy that they enforced a clearly defined policy? Sucks for her. Maybe next time she'll put the damned phone away.

    I knew this policy quite well and I've only ever visited the chain ONCE. Plus I don't even live in the area. This woman has no excuse.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @04:59PM (#36413302) Homepage

      Before the trailers there are multiple announcements (some quite amusing) that spell out very clearly that texting, talking, or using your bright-as-twenty-suns cellphone in any capacity are NOT tolerated.

      In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater), so chances are she came in mid-movie and didn't see the trailers or the warnings.

      • by FSWKU (551325) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @05:11PM (#36413390)

        In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater), so chances are she came in mid-movie and didn't see the trailers or the warnings.

        Meaning she wasn't even considerate enough to come in on time for the movie, so to hell with her. And even that would have only gotten one warning, ergo she had to have kept using the phone after being warned once. Additionally, there are signs posted that warn of this policy as well.

        Another damn good reason for this policy is safety. As there are staff constantly walking around the theater serving food and drinks (in glass containers, no less) in the darkness, the last thing I would want is for some poor staff member to have their low-light vision impaired and end up tripping with a full tray of glass + food/drink.

      • so chances are she came in mid-movie

        Yet another way to piss people off.

      • by bmo (77928)

        >In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat

        Assuming this is true and not a lie to cover up the fact she was texting:

        So she was shining it directly in the eyes of other patrons? Throw her out.

        --
        BMO

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Even worse. She says texting, then mentions the flashlight bit, then goes back to texting.

          The flashlight bit is clearly a lie.

      • To be late is to be dead, I suppose.

      • by bitrex (859228) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:02PM (#36413684)

        Before the trailers there are multiple announcements (some quite amusing) that spell out very clearly that texting, talking, or using your bright-as-twenty-suns cellphone in any capacity are NOT tolerated.

        In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater), so chances are she came in mid-movie and didn't see the trailers or the warnings.

        But then at 0:52 she essentially admits she was texting.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The problem is people of a younger generation have this entitlement attitude that because they can they should be able to do it. The theater rules are stated before each and every movie. I find it hard to believe she never heard of any theater having the policy against talkers and texters. It is also sad that people cant disconnect from their reality for a mere 2 hours to watch a movie. I go into a theater I turn my phone to silence and ignore it. I dont maybe I'm getting too old but I find it easy to not s

      • by ArcherB (796902)

        Before the trailers there are multiple announcements (some quite amusing) that spell out very clearly that texting, talking, or using your bright-as-twenty-suns cellphone in any capacity are NOT tolerated.

        In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater), so chances are she came in mid-movie and didn't see the trailers or the warnings.

        She also said, "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be texting" (it's been a few days since I've heard it so the quote may not be accurate). Also, Alamo gave her multiple warnings. How many times did she need to find her seat?

      • by pnot (96038) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:57PM (#36414024)

        In her message she says she was using her phone as a flashlight to find her seat (one of the most annoying things you can do in a theater)

        ... and shortly thereafter says that she didn't know she wasn't meant to be texting. And then proudly declares that she's texted in every other cinema in the area. So I'm going to go right ahead and sound the bullshit horn on this one...

      • She later says that she'd didn't know she wasn't supposed to text and that she's texted in all the other Austin theaters since she's free to text in any theater in the "Magnited United States". Also in the summary, she was warned twice before being kicked out. My guess is that she was a bit inebriated and disregarded any warnings.
  • by dugn (890551)
    Score one for the good guys.
  • Subject says everything. It "went viral" last week, so does Slashdot have a good antivirus, or why does it like being late? Not to mention the rambling summary is written by Hugh Pickens, who seems to fancy himself to be a journalist, but whose website contain a lot of poorly written articles...

  • by udoschuermann (158146) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @04:54PM (#36413262) Homepage

    Bravo. Warned twice already? I wish that anti-social behavior were outed like this more often.

  • I hate when people do this - its so inconsiderate! The movies are so expensive now that something like this is a big deal. If I spend $50 to take my family to a movie and some jerk in the rows in front of me decides to text - its like someone spitting in my food at a restaurant. Ruins the experience and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • by RussR42 (779993) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @05:00PM (#36413306)
    is here [drafthouse.com].
  • It is both sides of this story that keep me from going to theaters. At home I suffer none of this, and the pause button rox!!

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Theaters removing people who insist on turning lights on during the movie keep you from going to theaters? Thank you for staying away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I agree, both sides are asshats. The customer for disturbing the movie, and the management for not putting their money where their mouth is and giving her a refund along with a written notice that she's barred from attending again.

      If, as someone else said, the theater doesn't WANT this particular business, they should stop hiding behind 'policy' and just reverse the transaction - she's no longer allowed to watch the movie, so they no longer keep her money. It's not the 'escorting out' which is obnoxious, it

      • by sqlrob (173498)

        Management did put their money where their mouth is. The policy is *explicitly* "no refunds", stated several times before the movie and in the lobby.

        Although, actually, they didn't completely follow the policy. It's stated as one warning.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Who cares if she got a refund? She cost them money by making the experience worse for other patrons. It's the same thing if some jackass has to be thrown out of a ballgame. They don't give you refunds when they have to throw you out. Just show some common courtesy and follow the rules.

        • She cost them money by making the experience worse for other patrons

          That's called a cost of doing business. If they want to end the disruption sooner than the end of the movie, they can stump up to refund what she paid them to be allowed to be there. Legally, maybe the 'rules' get incorporated into the contract with the patron, but it's still pathetic and still wrong. The fundamental agreement is that the customer pays their money, and watches the movie - any attempt to include a clause which allows one party to declare unreasonable conduct on the part of the other and then

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The fundamental agreement is that the customer pays their money, and watches the movie - any attempt to include a clause which allows one party to declare unreasonable conduct on the part of the other and then, not just cancel the contract, but get themselves out of performing their obligations under it whilst requiring the other party still to perform theirs is just plain wrong.

            If she wanted to turn her little ass around when she was notified that she couldn't use her phone and get a refund then, she could have had one. Just like how if you get the software home, and want a refund... er, wait.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            That's called a cost of doing business.

            That phrase is reserved for costs you just can't avoid. A single person acting like a jackass, breaking the rules and ruining the experience for everybody else, has no right ethically or legally for a refund. She got what she deserved, a booting with no refund.

            Imagine if you paid on your way out of the theater, rather than on the way in - and on management escorting someone out they expected them to stop at the cash-desk and pay for the movie they were being escorted out of. It would be both insane and unenforceable. This is exactly the same principle, it's just that people have paid up-front.

            As a matter of practicality, it would be difficult to get the money from such a patron and not worth their time. I wouldn't say it would be unenforceable, though, if they really wanted to force the issue.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Static (1229)

            The purchase of the movie ticket comes with certain obligations on the purchaser. In this cinema chain, one of those is no talking or texting.

            An identical principal applies when I buy a train ticket. On Sydney's trains, you are not allowed to smoke or drink and by purchasing a ticket you agree to those obligations. Get caught and you get thrown off without a refund. In fact, you usually get fined as well.

            There is no reason you should get a refund for not following the obligations attached to the ticket.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              ok, the thrust of my argument is that by attaching such conditions (and especially by enforcing them) they are behaving like asshats. All you seem to have is 'everyone else does it' and 'it's ok to do it because that's what they're doing'.

              There is no reason why a break clause allowing one party to unilaterally cancel a contract on grounds of unreasonable behaviour by the other should allow the cancelling party out of their obligations whilst requiring the other party to fulfill theirs.
              Let's have another tho

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Why should she get a refund?
        It's not hiding behind a policy, it is protecting the other customers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If refunds were given to people who disturb others, then people would start being obnoxious to get their money back when they don't like the movie. Then you'd really have to ban them, but that's much more work for keeping track and it doesn't give people a chance to learn the lesson.

        • I believe I proposed that she ought to be given a ban.

          Every now and again, someone might act up to get their money back when they're in a crappy movie, but that's going to be a negligible number if doing that also causes them to be barred from the theater. As for the difficulty in enforcing such bans - that's a problem that every other type of business owner has to deal with.

          I don't believe that private business owners have any role in 'teaching someone a lesson'.

      • by pnot (96038)

        The customer for disturbing the movie, and the management for not putting their money where their mouth is and giving her a refund along with a written notice that she's barred from attending again.

        Well, first up, "Money where their mouth is"? Their mouth says "act like a fuckwit, we'll throw you out with no refund." Their money says the same. So they are indeed putting their money where their mouth is.

        Second, I can see a glaring flaw or three in this plan.

        -- "Hey, I'm bored of this movie. Let's walk out and skip the last twenty minutes."
        -- "Wait, I've got a better idea. Let's act obnoxiously and get thrown out, then we get a refund!"

        Or:

        -- "Dude, I'm bored, there's nothing to do, and we haven't got mu

  • I've only been to the Alamo Drafthouse once, but I think it was the best experience I've ever had at a normal (i.e. 35mm) movie theater. Comfortable seats, good projection/sound, friendly staff, and the food was delicious and was served unobtrusively. The prices were quite reasonable as well.

  • by tylersoze (789256) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @05:29PM (#36413486)

    I hate even going to conventional theaters anymore since I moved to Austin. Reasonably priced actual meals served with the movie. What a ground breaking concept! No commercials before the movie, just little loops they specifically for the movie your watching that somehow related to it. All kinds of special events, like a secret premiere of the new Star Trek movie hidden as a showing of Wrath of Khan, or John Carpenter and Shepard Fairey showing up for a screening of They Live, it's just a cool place. I'm so glad they're building one down the street from me on Slaughter, so I don't have to shelp all the way to Lamar, except for the special events. When I'm in Dallas, I'll usually go to The Movie Tavern which functions as a fair replacement.

    All you automatic Texas haters can go fuck off, because Austin is a nice little liberal enclave that somehow managed to create itself down here.

  • I think there will be no one here who will "take the other side" until, that is, it is their side.

    We have discussed mobile phone behaviors on occasion here and elsewhere. Invariably we say things like "no excuse" or "under no circumstances" and of course "rude" and "thoughtless." Really?

    When driving, for example, it is next to impossible to resist answering the phone when it rings. And you know that last-second thought you just had? You've got to call someone right now because it might leave your head i

    • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @05:56PM (#36413654) Homepage

      When driving, for example, it is next to impossible to resist answering the phone when it rings.

      Very not-true, unless you were raised by B.F. Skinner in a Nokia lab.

      • by theNAM666 (179776) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:47PM (#36414338)

        >Very not-true, unless you were raised by B.F. Skinner in a Nokia lab.

        Yeah, and what about it? Next you're going to insult my dogs because they drool every time a bell rings?

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:31AM (#36416748) Homepage

        Yup - people look strangely at me when I have a meeting with somebody in my office at work, the phone rings, I glance at it, and then I don't answer it and proceed with the meeting. I find this bizarre - this person has taken the time to set up a meeting with me, and I made time on my calendar to meet because whatever we're talking about was important enough to discuss (and my calendar tends to book up quite a bit). Why would I then set aside that carefully prioritized calendar just because some random person wants something from me? When I have a free moment I'll find out what it was about, prioritize it accordingly, and deal with it. If they're having a heart attack they should be dialing 911, since there isn't much I can do for them personally.

        Answering the phone when it rings amounts to prioritizing your work (or recreation) purely on the basis of the urgent, and not on the basis of the important. Learning the difference changed my life.

        • Yup - people look strangely at me when I have a meeting with somebody in my office at work, the phone rings, I glance at it, and then I don't answer it and proceed with the meeting.

          Indeed. It was one of the best lessons I learned from a mentor as an undergrad. She was an eminent professor and a scholar with an international reputation, but she wouldn't answer the phone when I had a scheduled meeting with her. Perhaps after two or three times, I think I said something like "do you need to get that," at which point she explained the same philosophy that you did. Unless you are aware that you are expecting an urgent and very important phone call (in which case, you inform the person

    • by SuperMog2002 (702837) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:59PM (#36414046)

      When driving, for example, it is next to impossible to resist answering the phone when it rings.

      I have a proven, reliable algorithm for not answering the phone when it rings, either while driving, or in a movie theater, or even while coding. Here it is, in all its unpatented glory:

      1. Step 1: Don't answer the phone

      Works every time!

      • An unanswered phone is a happy phone!

        ps: "Bad for someone else, but OK for me to do it!" sounds an awful lot like Al Gore and learjet liberals carping on about CO2 while they have chauffeured SUVs and private jets spewing several villages worth of CO2 as they travel from junket to junket..

      • by theNAM666 (179776)

        Mr. Poster:

        Your algorithm is in violation of my client SCO corporation's existing patent #38466643, computer device to prevent phone answering. Don't bother paying us for this violation; We have already files a lawsuit against you and requested that your phone company provide us with the names of all subscribers who have ever not answered their phones.

    • When driving it is actually quite easy to not answer your phone when it rings: Turn off the ringer. Or if you forget, simply don't answer it.

      If you lack the self-control necessary to resist the siren song of the ringer, then you shouldn't be driving - you should be somewhere safe where other people, people with normal levels of impulse control and cognitive faculty, can take care of you and prevent you from being a complete fucking idiot to the detriment of yourself and others.

    • by Rinnon (1474161)

      When driving, for example, it is next to impossible to resist answering the phone when it rings. And you know that last-second thought you just had? You've got to call someone right now because it might leave your head in the time it takes to at least get to a stop light or to pull over.

      Your assumption that we all feel a phone call must be answered or responded to as soon as humanly possible is completely misplaced. When I get a phone call while driving, I ignore it. I don't feel any pavlovian desire to dig through my pocket and answer it, and I CERTAINLY don't consider pulling over or phoning back at a stoplight. Aside from the fact that where I live it would be illegal for me to answer it while driving, I am confident that there is no phone call so pressing that it can't wait until I arr

  • When people have a light on in the theater I'm in, I ask them politely (and quietly) to turn it off. If they persist, I ask them again, a little less politely, and warn them that the next time I won't be polite at all. If I need to intervene a third time, I tell them I'll throw them out if they don't stop. Then I get the usher, unless it's obvious the first time or two that I'll have to get the usher.

    Sometimes they get violent with me when I'm asking them - pushing me, getting in my face with "what you gonn

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sometimes they get violent with me when I'm asking them - pushing me, getting in my face with "what you gonna do about it?", things like that. I am all too willing to stay in their face when that happens - pushing back, telling them I'm going to retaliate, even kill them if they get tough with me. [...] And if someone wants their day ruined by testing whether I'm nuts, they're going to get vastly more trouble than an annoying light in a dark movie theater.

      That made me laugh out loud. The reason these people are behaving this way is precisely because they have the same attitude as you do. They react so bizarrely because they think "hey, don't fuck with me". They react to you because they perceive you to be fucking with them, not because they don't care about other people, and you are doing the same thing. It doesn't matter how polite your words are, if you have in the back of your mind that this person you are interacting with is possibly one of "those aggres

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)

        No, the difference between them and me is that I'm doing what I'm doing to stop someone else from harming me. They're just selfishly indulging themself; they don't even think about the harm. I can assure you that when I'm confronting these selfish jerks, I'm thinking about the harm I am, and could be, causing them.

        It does matter how polite I am - not just the words, but the tone - when I ask the first time. You might not be able to appreciate that actually being polite, which I said I was, does not equal on

    • by radish (98371)

      telling them I'm going to retaliate, even kill them if they get tough with me

      Yes, you're nuts. You're going to KILL someone for using their phone in a movie theater? Get help, seriously, you're out of your mind.

  • I'm glad that Ms Inebriated got the boot from the theater. It's not really the fact that she was using her phone at all in a public place, it's the fact that she had free time, paid to go have an evening of dining and visual entertainment at a theater and somehow that's not occupying enough. WTF happened to people, their short attention spans and adult ADHD tendencies? Seriously, if you have to have every second of your life occupied by some sort of attention, then every Friday night, stay at home with a

  • ... bwahahah

  • by ISurfTooMuch (1010305) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:12PM (#36413746)

    Say what you will about Anderson Cooper, but he rips this drunk chick a new one in this video:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2011/06/07/exp.ac.ridiculist.talk.text.movie.cnn.html [cnn.com]

    I don't live in Austin, but if I visit, I'll make a point to go to this theater.

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      Did Anderson Cooper say something about "inane chatter?"

      Seems a classic case of it taking an inane chattered to know one.

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