Rant: Tim League is Wrong, Bring on the Texters


Last week, the Internets were atwitter with news from CinemaCon in Las Vegas. During a panel discussion, Regal Entertainment Chief Executive Amy Miles proposed that allowing moviegoers to text might be a way to lure more people into theaters. Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League took to the microphone to declare that would happen over his dead body.

There was an immediate outcry among film fans. They condemned the proposal, and sang kudos for Tim.

That's great, except maybe Tim's wrong.

First, the Alamo Drafthouse has packaged various "bad movie viewing experiences" into popular programming events. The Alamo presents quote-alongs, sing-alongs, and heckle-alongs (sometimes by texting). Heck, they've even turned the worst movie experience imaginable into a product: crying infants during "Baby Day" screenings.

Why shouldn't Regal and Cinemark have the same opportunity to boost their net bottom line with creative programming? In fact, I'd rather they do that and lay off the blaring pre-show ad reels.

Second, if texting is constrained to special circumstances, that further reinforces the norm that a certain decorum is called for during normal movie screenings. If you want to text (or talk or fart), go to a special screening where it is permitted. Otherwise, grab a bucket of "shut the hell up" with your Coke and popcorn, and let us enjoy the movie in peace.

I do think it's great that Tim League is drawing a hard line about texting at regular screenings. But I'm willing to let Regal give it a shot. If they want to run trials allowing texting at some screenings of, say, 21 Jump Street, let them have at it. That what Amy Miles proposed, and I don't think that's necessarily such a bad thing. The only thing is that I ask is that they clearly designate these screenings -- so I'll know to go to an Alamo Drafthouse instead.

All those examples of Alamo

All those examples of Alamo special events are about _audience_participation_.

Texting has _nothing_ to do with audience participation. It's pure distraction.

Apples and oranges, monkey boy!

1st Run vs 2nd Life

I would suggest that there is a big difference between the Alamo Drafthouse executing creative programming on movies that have been released long ago and texting at a movie's 1st run at Regal/Cinemark. The general thought is that people should first experience the content as it was intended to be experienced. If you want audience participation for a film that isn't intended for participation, I would propose that you do what Alamo Drafthouse does and allow the film to live a respectful life as intended and then resurrect it for a 2nd life of fun and engagement.

The "Baby Day" was created to protect the 1st run screening but still provide entertainment for those who NEED to do things like taking care of babies. No one NEEDS to text during a movie...

Anyone who wants a truly

Anyone who wants a truly intimate theater experience should know to go to a mainstream, boring, and EMPTY mall theater. I'm sorry, but the whole Alamo anti-texting thing is just BS. What's more distracting--having one other person in the theater who texts a couple of times, or having a theater packed with antsy hipsters ordering food, lighting up their menus, and eating and drinking? Not to mention the servers running back and forth, talking to people, dropping off food and bills, etc.

The Alamo is a great theater, but it is NOT some religious haven for deeply respectful treatment of movies. It's a fun place to go and eat and drink and watch cool movies. Tim's obsession with texting is insulting and deeply misplaced... sometimes I feel like he doesn't understand his own theater.

Respectfully disagree

I wish more of the Drafthouse venues had steeper stadium seating so that servers can stay underneath everyone's eye line when dropping off food and bills. That's why I avoid the Village theater. Aside from that, looking at menus and ordering food before the movie shouldn't be distracting. The servers should know exactly who to give the food to, so there should be very minimal server-customer talking. A few times I've gone, the service has been a little noisier, but I've found that most of the time it's perfectly quiet.

I think Tim definitely understands his own theater which is why he created audience participation screenings for a rowdier time. He offers both quiet and loud settings.


I feel like I'm missing the joke here.

Will Not Be Managed

The "mainstream" theaters to a piss poor job of managing their theaters now. If they are going to have a "text allowed" screening then they will need a zero tolerance policy for texting in their other theaters. The problem is they don't enforce their own policies now. I cannot see them changing that.

The more and more these theaters get away from making their core business a pleasant experience, the more they risk losing out to people like me. It's getting more and more difficult to justify spending 50-100 per screening (family of 4). I can wait a month or 2 and just buy the DVD/BLU and watch it on my home system that rivals the theatric experience. The I could save the difference for a more killer home system and a lot of Movietime popcorn.

We cannot cater to rude people. Going to the movies is a social experience. That social experience comes with a social contract. Violators of the contract should be shunned not raised up.