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Theater Courtesy

April 11, 2016

Several Bloggers have weighed in on a topic I think about every time Mrs. Chatterbox and I go to the movies, which it seems we do less and less as we grow older. But when we do go to the movies I’m particular where we sit. Here in Portland, most of the theaters are divided into two sections with a horizontal aisle dividing the first twenty-five rows from the remaining seats. I like the first row in the second section because there are a few seats behind a metal rail perfect for resting your feet on and nobody to sit directly in front of you, as there would be on either side of these few seats. I hate it when we pick empty seats only to have Mr. Lincoln show up in his stovetop hat and slide into the seat in front of you just as the movie starts. Since Mrs. C. insists we be in our seats at least a half hour before show time when the theater is nearly empty, we usually get our pick.


We sit through all those nasty commercials they now show, as if the price of tickets and five dollar candy bars and popcorn isn’t profit enough, followed by previews that last nearly as long as the movie you’ve come to see. Then the theater begins to darken.


As the lights dim, a couple wanders in at the last minute. I glance away, refusing to make eye contact but they see the empty seats flanking us and ask that we scoot down so they can sit together. Since there are usually other seats available, it isn’t that they want to sit together as much as they want great seats together, which they might have claimed had they arrived at a decent time.


Mrs. C. is one of the politest people I know, and she’s inclined to accommodate the late arrivals by moving; I am not so accommodating and reluctant to give up seats we earned by arriving early, seats we’ve now been sitting in for so long that our butt imprints are plainly visible on the cushions.


No! I won’t move if I’m in my special seat. I might consider if if I’m not in my usual seat and moving won’t land me in a bad seat. My point is this; why should people be allowed to mosey in at the last minute and be rewarded for coming late when I’ve been sitting there long enough to forget which movie I’ve come to see?


How about you? Will you move if asked—even if other seats, less desirable seats, remain available? And what are your feelings about moviegoers who hold seats for others? How many times have you been told seats were taken only to spot them halfway through the movie—empty? Have you ever complained because someone nearby was on an iPhone in defiance of the onscreen warning about silencing your phone?


If it weren’t for my kinky fetish for sitting on wads of gum or prying my feet from sticky floors, I’d stay home where popcorn and a soda don’t cost as much as a car payment.




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Sorry but if you leave an odd seat on each side you should accommodate an even number (couple) of theater goers. A single seat is rarely filled. But that is the ONLY reason you should move. I, like you, get there early enough to endure the ads and get that seat where I can rest my feet! Our new theater has seats that lean back and that no complaints there.
By: Tabor on April 11, 2016
I would probably move one seat over to accommodate a couple. However, now when I go to the movies I usually opt for seats in the reserved section which means you choose the seats and pay extra for larger and more comfortable places -- and then I would not.
By: The Broad on April 11, 2016
I am with you! I was at a movie once. It was pretty crowded. There was a seat between me and strangers. We got there early. This couple comes in after they dimmed the lights and wanted to sit together. In my day if there were two seats not together one person would take one and the other person would take the other. Not together! You were LATE,so you get what you get!! So I would not move so they went and got an usher and MADE me move over (and EVERYONE in the row had to move down one). I should have said it was saved. My blood was boiling and I did not enjoy the movie. People can be so rude. They still are on their phones even when the screen is telling them to turn them off. Teens are worst offenders. Talking and laughing through entire movie or kicking the seat. I am sorry. This is a very sore subject with me! So I don't go to movies much. Long live Netflix!
By: Linda on April 11, 2016
If I arrive early to select a particular seat... I typically do not accommodate late arrivals. If someone yaps on their cell phone during the movie I'll let them know or complain to the usher. My tolerance for this sort of thing is low. That's why the best seat is at home in front of my large screen T.V. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 11, 2016
Dudes! There is always two seats together somewhere. (I haven't been to a packed out show in years.) Like you, I won't give up my good seats. Unless some really obnoxious person with a motor mouth sits behind me.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 11, 2016
The problem as I see it is that from the first people in the door until just before showtime, everyone wants to keep at least one seat between themselves and the nearest person - leading to many single seats. So, yes, I'd probably move over. But I wouldn't like it! We haven't been to a movie for years. This reminds me of one reason why :)
By: jenny_o on April 11, 2016
I have a whole list of bitches about theatre etiquette and you've hit upon just one of my gripes. NO..I would politely decline the move because we purposely sit on the end of a row. My husband is 6 foot 5 and a half inches tall and his legs are a whole lot of his height. If we get there early so he can get into the front row of the second tier..screw them that come in late. If they wanted our seat they could of gotten their early. I am sounding like a bitch here, aren't I????
By: Cheryl P. on April 11, 2016
You're right. Screw those people. Maybe next time they'll show up for "The Twenty" or "First Look" or the "Will Rogers Commercial" so they can pick their own seats. By the way, if they're going to pick their seat, I'd just as soon they use the restroom.
By: Al Penwasser on April 11, 2016
I don't think you should give up your seat as long as there are others available for them to sit together in.
By: Snowbrush on April 11, 2016
“Our new theater has seats that lean back and that no complaints there.” A complaint of mine is that since many people are now morbidly obese, more and more places have seats so wide that I have to choose which arm rest to use because I can’t reach them both.
By: Snowbrush on April 11, 2016
Our nearest theater is a 3 hour drive so it is really rare I see a movie outside of my home.. Somehow after reading your post, I'm kind of glad.
By: Arkansas Patti on April 11, 2016
Nope, I wouldn't move. I'd even tell those people off. I'm sick of entitled people and narcissists. They can all go to hell.
By: Michael Offutt on April 11, 2016
yeah, an empty seat on either side of you is not cool so i'd move down to let them sit together.
By: TexWisGirl on April 11, 2016
I'm with Mrs C. I come a half hour early but I wouldn't move from the seat of my choice.
By: red Kline on April 11, 2016
Don't get me started on these rude people. I would never change my own seat for some numb nut who has the entitled thought that we should move after they come late. I say no proudly and then ignore them. If someone has their cell phone on, I tell them to turn it off. I have even gotten up and told the staff about very rude, loud people and got the, kicked out.
By: Birgit on April 11, 2016
Being that i'm as tall as a short 12-year-old, i moved once because i was taller than the children sitting behind me. It tickled me mightily, and was the only time that ever happened.
By: messymimi on April 11, 2016
I'd move over ONE seat if someone else asked nicely and it would allow them to sit together. Otherwise, I'd quietly point to other open seats. We don't go to movies very often, but haven't ever encountered any problems. In the county next to us a guy was texting the babysitter at home (while the commercials were still going) and someone was so upset about this that he started a fight and ended up shooting and killing the young man. SMH.
By: Pixel Peeper on April 11, 2016
Nope. I wouldn't move. They had the same opportunity as I did to get there early and get seats together. Live and learn. Choices have consequences. There are no rules posted about leaving empty seats. First come, first served. Maybe next time I go to the DMV during on my lunch time, everybody will gladly let me go to the front of the line so I won't be late getting back. AHA! Didn't think so!
By: Val on April 11, 2016
We may go to a theatre once a year for all of the reasons you mention. Netflix and a 60-inch tv takes care of our movie needs. And you can pause it to go to the bathroom!
By: Catalyst on April 11, 2016
I moved once - many years ago, but I thought that was brazen of the woman to ask. I wouldn't do it again, but I don't go to the movies, so it's a non-issue.
By: Robyn Engel on April 11, 2016
You hit on a social dilemma. It is rude to arrive late and disrupt people who arrived early. Bad at a movie. Worse and even more disrespectful at a musical performance or play. It is proper that some stage productions will not seat late comers. Movies do not have that kind of protocol, so it comes down to what do you do? Depends on my mood at the time I guess. I might move or I might point to a couple of seats elsewhere explaining that we arrived extra early to secure those seats.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 12, 2016
We hardly ever go the movies anymore. The talkers drives us crazy. But, no, I would probably NOT move for a late arrival. We always got there early to pick the exact seats we wanted.
By: Mitchell Is Moving on April 12, 2016
not a problem we ever deal with as when we go to the movies we always go to an early showtime on a week day. not only do you get a discounted ticket price but you get a nearly empty theater. and we don't buy the expensive candy or popcorn.
By: Ellen Abbott on April 12, 2016
If they were polite, I would probably slide over a seat, but that is it. If they had an attitude, I might not. Not an issue in the theaters around here, all seats are huge, will adjust, and there is plenty of leg room and head room, we still manage to get a few numb nutzes that know how to ruin the experience from time to time.
By: cranky on April 12, 2016
Given the tenor of the times, I feel it's wiser to accommodate someone and avoid a nasty confrontation. I agree with you in principle. But I'm likely to move away from such people.
By: MICHAEL MANNING on April 12, 2016
I've been there and I slid down. The latecomer were talkers and barely paid attention. Apparently it wasn't the first time they saw the movie. I would have to think hard before I'd do it again.
By: Rick Watson on April 13, 2016
I'm not so possessive about my seat, so I'd move ... unless there was a really tall person sitting in front of the next seat. Which begs the question: what do you do if a really tall person sits in front of you?
By: Tom Sightings on April 13, 2016
I do not like the idea of moving, but would do it just because I don't want the confrontation. This is one of the MANY MANY MANY reasons I rarely go to the movies. It costs too much. I have trouble hearing, so I prefer the subtitles to be on. I often have to rewind to catch key conversation points. They won't pause it for me to go to the restroom and they don't let me lay in the floor with my pants off. Other people are loud and rude anyway. It also costs too much and they insist that I only eat and drink what they provide at inflated prices. I am more than happy to wait for it to come on DVD and watch it from home the way I want to.
By: Brett Minor (Transformed Nonconformist) on April 14, 2016

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