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How Not to Be a Jerk in a Movie Theater

For those of us who take good movie-theater behavior seriously, a video that has gone viral in the past few days is all kinds of cathartic. The Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin cinema that recently displayed its good taste in a series of fantastic classic-movie posters, has turned an irate voicemail from a customer who was kicked out because (despite being warned) she wouldn’t stop texting into a wonderful PSA. The hilarious clip, which we think should precede screenings across the country, reminded us of how easy it is for a rude audience member to ruin a film for everyone. So we’ve compiled a short list of things you can do to be a considerate movie-goer. Read it, and watch the Alamo Drafthouse’s video, after the jump.

1. Turn your phone off. It should go without saying that you should never take a call in a movie theater. But guess what else? No one wants to see the darkened theater illuminated by the glow from your smartphone — so don’t text, email, surf the web, or check the time either. Also annoying: folks who set their phone to “vibrate” instead of switching it off. In case you hadn’t noticed, the buzz of a silenced device is nearly as noticeable as your Beyoncé ringtone. If you can’t unplug for a measly 90 minutes, do everyone a favor and wait for the movie to come out on DVD.

2. Get to the movie on time. If you’re the guy who’s always scrambling to find a seat five minutes into the feature, you’re annoying the hell out of people. Do they have to stand up or actually exit the row so that you can take one of the few remaining seats in the theater? Are you chatting with your pals about whether the four of you should split up to get better spots? How about loitering aimlessly in the aisle, lamenting your poor transit luck? Sorry, but people hate you.

3. Know when to bring your kids and when to get a baby-sitter. We once had a midnight screening of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse ruined for us by a screaming baby. This is an extreme example of something we see way too often: parents attending movies that are clearly for adults with infants and toddlers in tow. Although everyone draws the line in a different place, there’s just no reason to bring your two-year-old to an R-rated film in the middle of the night. Obviously, G- and PG-rated movies (especially those intended for kids) are a different story, and we expect to see more babies at matinees. In fact, many theaters these days offer screenings specifically for new moms with kids in tow. One rule always applies, though: If she starts howling, get her out of there fast.

4. Snack considerately. We all enjoy a good tub of popcorn and vat of soda at the movies. But what is with the people who spend the entire film ripping into snacks that seem like they’re wrapped in 40 layers of cellophane? Or those over-enthusiastic movie-goers who spill their soft drink, resulting in the dreaded sticky-floor syndrome? And, while we’re all for sneaking in contraband food, we can’t abide people who bring in takeout so stinky its odor permeates the theater.

5. Shut up. We’ve all been there. It’s a tense moment in a suspenseful movie. The characters are silent. The soundtrack is swelling. And someone behind us, perhaps of the elderly persuasion and apparently unable to control the volume of her utterances, blurts out something like, “Why is he doing that? I don’t understand!” Then there are the teenagers who treat movies as an excuse to giggle and gossip outside the watchful eye of their parents, and the folks of all ages who just never seemed to learn that when the movie is on, you’re supposed to be quiet. There are a few exceptions to the rule: for example, campy horror flicks that are just begging to be heckled by a theater full of drunks. In general, though? Laugh, cry, but discuss the movie after the credits roll.

6. If you’re going to make out, sit in the back row. Because no one wants to see that.