Posted at 5:31 PM on January 4, 2006
by Euan Kerr
Trolling through the end of the year news stories about the movies, there seemed to be a lot of interest in the National Association of Movie Theater Owners statement it was going to ask the FCC for permission to block cell phone signals in movie houses. Apparently some owners are realizing they have to do something about the erosion of the movie- going experience, and this makes it look as if they are at least trying something. (Less is being said about the commercials before the shows which seem just as irritating to movie patrons.)
Of course, the cell phone industry is crying foul, saying it's dangerous for folks like doctors and police officers to lose their contact with the outside world. One might argue that's the whole point of going to see a movie, and also point out that the docs and the cops seemed to manage before the invention of cellphones and pagers.
Yet it's another possibility which caught my eye. Some theaters are considering hiring ushers again. I'm old enough to remember the tyranny of the neatly dressed people with the flashlights. As a kid it was scary watching them hushing ('ushing?) the noisy folks in the next seats. Now it seems like a good idea to bring them back.
Over Christmas my aunt told me that many, many years ago, my grandfather worked as a doorman at the local flea-pit in Ayrshire in Scotland. Supposedly he looked quite grand in his military style greatcoat as he stood by the door. My aunt laughed and said she knew opening the door to let people in wasn't his real job. He was there to help troublesome patrons leave. "The chucker-ooter" she called him.
What would the movie-goers of today make of him?
Perhaps it would bring more people back to the theaters.
On one hand there's a communal experience: people laughing together, or gasping together. On the other is the couple talking about something unrelated to the film, or the person who has seen it already loudly providing spoilers for their cohorts. The former is a lesson in fun and leaves a film goer happy. The latter, well, bah. I'm always surprised when these folks are indignant at being asked to pipe down.
Ohhhhh don't get me started on the cellphones.
Interactive Producer, MPR New Media