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Cinema is for Film, not Facebook

Cinema is for Film, not Facebook

Why did the AMC cinema chain in the US decide to allow film goers (in some of their screens) to use mobile phones and then change their mind?

Many people use their mobiles irrespective of the rules, so making it something one is allowed to do only gives a proportion of the paying audience the opportunity to avoid the tutting and the odd ‘turn it off’ scream from the back of the auditorium. The wonderful thing about cinema is the whole experience – the big screen, the amazing sound and the darkness – combined they allow you to focus on what’s on the screen and you become immersed into the film, whether it’s based on a true story or a fantastic CGI encounter.

AMC’s aim might have been to make the younger audience (15-24 year olds), the core cinema-going audience, feel that they aren’t being told what to do (or not do). The very thought of not being able to check your mobile phone at least 15 times in a two hour showing can bring some out in a cold FOMO sweat – they might miss a huge worldwide breaking story, a friend sharing yet another cat video or even the groundbreaking announcement of a new relationship on Facebook.

Why do we need to be connected 24/7? Can we not enjoy being cut off for a short while? Are we becoming digitally institutionalised from the age of 3?! Just because we dual screen at home doesn’t mean we need to do the same when we’re out. We go to the cinema, theatre, concerts, ballet or opera to be entertained and experience something we don’t do every day – so why not make it a special occasion, do something a little different, and turn our phones off.

While I am sadly slightly older now and have very little idea of whom sings what, I do use Shazam during the adverts and trailers in case there is a song I hear that I might potentially download later. But when the BBFC film certificate comes up, it’s the time to power down.

Mobiles and, in particular, the light emitted from them are a great distraction to the ticket paying audience. I did once spend most of a film reading the mobile in front of me. Its owner was busy trading stocks and shares, all the while his girlfriend was glued to the screen oblivious to what was going on beside her.

When you have paid money to go to the cinema, you have an obligation to enter into the spirit of things and not ruin the experience for others by texting your mates or checking the football scores. When taking in a film an audience has the opportunity to be brought together as part of a shared experience with real people, rather than just their digital friends. Surely the former is better for all?

Justin Mallinson
Associate Director

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