Since its inception, the cinema was meant to be enjoyed in the company of other people. As a communal experience, very few things can compare to the collected gasps, shrieks, and hushed coos of the people inside a premier movie theater.
However, that same communal experience that makes watching a movie inside a theater unique can also become a drawback. Sometimes, people forget that they are watching a film in public and not from the comfort of their own living rooms.
Although there is not much that you can do about the behavior of people watching movies in Dubai at the same time as you do, you can start with yourself and set a good example for other moviegoers to emulate.
Here are examples of good cinema etiquette that should be observed:
This is particularly important if you are planning to watch the latest blockbuster movie that is sure to draw in large crowds.
Check the screening schedules and arrive at the cinema about 20 minutes before the screening. This will give you ample time to buy snacks, go to the restrooms, and find your seats.
At the snack counter, try to move as quickly as you possibly can, being mindful of the people waiting behind you. It would be great to settle upon a snack choice even before you line up. Also, prepare your cash or credit card as soon as possible.
Before heading into the cinema, make a quick pitstop to the toilet. This will help prevent untimely bathroom breaks while the movie is playing.
Of course, there is not much you can do when nature calls, especially if you are watching a two-hour-long movie. If you think that you can’t hold it in for the duration of the film, find a seat near the aisle so you can disturb as few people as you possibly can. And when you head out to the restrooms, try to keep your body as low as possible to avoid blocking other people’s view of the screen.
It would also be helpful to download an app that marks parts of the movies which are less crucial to the story. These moments are best for taking a bathroom break.
Unless you are a professional who’s on call, switch off your phone instead of merely keeping it on silent mode.
Apart from helping you fully immerse yourself in the story unfolding on the big screen, you are doing everybody else a considerable favor by minimizing unnecessary distractions in the cinema.
Feasting on your favorite treats is part and parcel of watching movies at the cinema. However, you should be mindful of how you eat around people.
If you are watching an action or comedy flick where the action moves the story, it may be all right to be a little noisy. But if the movie is heavy on dialogues, even the slightest noise can be a source of distraction.
Close your mouth when chewing and drink from your straw gently.
Whether you have seen the film before or not, don’t be that guy or girl who describes scenes in the cinema as they unfold. You might think that you are doing your friend a huge favor by explaining a particularly confusing scene, but you could be ruining the experience for the people around you who can hear what you say.
Skip the commentaries and explanations until you have left the cinema.
If you have seen the movie and you are watching it again with someone to keep you company, resist the urge to spoil crucial plot details, including to those who are waiting in line with you.
Some people do appreciate a good spoiler, while many do not. Err on the side of caution and do not discuss plot details. Allow people to enjoy the film in their own way.
Inside the theater, avoid reacting to a particular scene before anyone else. You might think that this is a minor thing, but you could be taking away the chance for other people to react to crucial moments in the movie in their own way, and you could be unwittingly spoiling the film for others.
It happens: An emotional scene grips you, and then other moviegoers begin talking, distracting you.
It may be tempting to shush them, but by doing so, you are becoming a distraction to other people, too.
Instead of doing that, speak directly but politely to the offending moviegoer and ask them to stop their distracting behavior. If they don’t stop, call the attention of a cinema staff or manager.
You want your kids to enjoy movies as they should be experienced, and that’s in front of a big screen. However, you should always be mindful of your children’s behavior inside the cinema. To put it succinctly, other moviegoers will not appreciate it if your kids get noisy or unruly.
Also, if you are planning to bring your children to the cinema, make sure that you choose a movie that is appropriate for their ages, preferably something with a shorter runtime.
If you are seated beside a stranger, avoid hogging the armrests on both sides. Be mindful of others who might want to use these. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep your elbows at the edge of the armrests while keeping your arms and hands as close to your body as you possibly can.
As for your belongings, like your bag, put it in an area where it won’t potentially trip other people.
If you are on the taller side, you could obscure another person’s view, even if you are seated. As much as possible, find a seat in the back portion of the cinema.
Also, if you are wearing a hat, remove it once you find a seat inside the theater to avoid blocking the view of the person behind you.
Nothing can compare to the visceral appeal of experiencing movies at the cinema. Unfortunately, when you add other people to the equation, there is a possibility that you will get distracted. Although there’s not much you can do about the others, you can become a better moviegoer by following these tips.
Paul Fox is the Director of Roxy Cinemas under Meraas Group/DXB Entertainments. Roxy Cinemas currently has five Dubai locations: The Beach, La Mer, City Walk, Box Park, and Bollywood Parks.