Whether you’re going for the comic book movie you’ve been dying to see for months or just looking for two cool hours out of the heat, chances are you’re going to attend the movies at least once this summer. (And if you aren’t, why the hell are you still reading this article about going to the movies on a website that caters to entertainment diehards? Go read David Coopperfield and leave the rest of us alone, smartypants.) Since we’re all going to be sharing the same sticky-floored space for a few months as we watch these films unspool in the dark, can we set a few ground rules so we all get along?
Yes, the cute little animals from Madagascar tell us to shut off our phones and everyone knows to keep the chatter to a minimum, but here are some other suggestions to make the movies a better place. You can follow them or not. But if you don’t, you’re probably going to hell.
Saving Seats: Since we live in the age of Fandango and Movietickets.com, everyone buys tickets before showing up at the movie theater. That means a group of 10 friends can send one volunteer with nine coats to the movies early and stake a claim to an entire row of seats in prime real estate. That also means those of us who arrive early but alone (or in a smaller group) have to sit in a less desirable section while these popular gadabouts waste their time ordering another Cinnabon at the food court. I’m putting a stop to this now. This behavior is unacceptable, and if it happens on opening weekend of The Dark Knight Rises, you know someone is going to lose a limb (or at least their nine jackets) to an unruly mob. Only one seat should be saved at a time, and it should only be saved for a person who is currently in the theater either using the rest room or getting a popcorn. The rest is just a catastrophic waste of space and goodwill.
Feet Off the Seats: It’s summertime, so people are going to be wearing flip-flops and sandals to the theater and then wanting to slip them off once they sit down. No one is going to put them on the nasty theater floor (we know where it’s been, and that’s the problem) so they’re either going to tuck their tootsies underneath them or put them all over the back of the chair in front of them. Gross! It’s bad enough that I’m going to be leaving with a film of dried Cherry Coke syrup on the bottom of my sneaker. I don’t need to be leaving with your residual toe jam all over my jeans. And I don’t want your nasty foot microbes all over the back of the seat right near my face. I might catch a serious case of stinky feet disease or something. Just leave your feet in your shoes on the floor like God intended. If not, I might go all Kathy Bates in Misery on you.
Take a Stand: Personally, I’m an aisle seat kind of a guy. When someone comes by and wants to get to one of the seats inside the row (or has to get out to use the restroom or go play Mortal Kombat 96 in the lobby), I do the polite thing and stand up to let them pass. Really, it’s just civilized behavior, especially if it’s happening during the movie. The only thing worse than having to wriggle your way out of a row of people while the movie is playing is having to wriggle your way out of a row of people while the movie is playing… then falling and planting your ass in some strangers lap (or, even worse, his popcorn). Just stand up and let the person by. It will make the whole thing go by a lot more quickly.
Clean Up After Yourself: Seriously. Don’t leave your popcorn and soda on the floor for the ushers to sweep up after the movie. First of all, it keeps the next group of people waiting anxiously to see the film from going into the theater. Secondly, everyone behind you is going to kick it accidentally, which is what makes the floor so sticky and gross and covered in week-old popcorn that is petrifying sitting in a puddle of soda sludge like it’s a dinosaur in a tar pit. It’s not really that hard. The trash cans are right there for you.
Spoiler Alert: Everyone loves to talk about the movie with their friends, but just keep your stupid trap shut about it until you get clear of the theater. The group of people who just saw the movie doesn’t care about your opinion (and there is a good chance they might think you’re an idiot for either liking or hating the movie you just walked out of). Even worse, those in the theater waiting to see the film might have the whole thing ruined when you say, “I can’t believe Chris Hemsworth turns out to be the killer!” If I told you that Emma Stone dies at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, you’d have my head for it, so how do you think you’d feel if some loudmouth did the same on his walk to the car? That is the real walk of shame. Don’t do that.
No, I Do Not Want a Large for 50 Cents More: While we’re talking about behavior in the movies, this one goes to all the theater owners out there: No, I do not want a large for 50 cents more. No, I would not like to try a combo pack. No, I do not want pay for your frequent visitor card. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I have seen the signage all over the concession stand, I saw the three sizes of popcorn bags (and I don’t even complain that even these have ads on them now), and I have selected which one I want. I will not be persuaded into shoving 3,000 additional calories into my body so that you can make another two quarters. I know what I want. Your job isn’t to cajole, it’s to serve. Now give me my damn popcorn. And hold the butter.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan