You know what they say about desperate times.
Movie-going in the US is slumping, so, in an attempt to get ticket sales back up, AMC Entertainment, which operates around 400 theaters and 5,000 screens in the US, wants to do away with the sacred audience etiquette of not texting during a film. While there’s an obvious reason bright smartphone screens in dark theaters are frowned upon, the company worries the rule may be driving young people out of the theaters.
Said AMC’s CEO Adam Aron to Variety this week:
When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear ‘please cut off your left arm above the elbow.’ You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.
Recent figures from the Motion Picture Association of America suggest teens and millennials are a promising market for cinemas, even as movie-going at large declines. A third of individuals in North America didn’t go to a movie at all in 2015; Netflix and other alternative entertainment options likely contributed to that, as did high ticket prices and disappointing blockbuster offerings.
Aron said some movie-goers may not appreciate people next to them texting throughout a film, so AMC is exploring the possibility of having “specific auditoriums” that are “texting-friendly”—i.e. entire theaters speckled with artificial white glare and the muffled taps of thumbs on screens.
Really, why even play the movie at all?