This Movie Theater Chain Has A TERRIBLE Idea

Photo: SG cityscapes / Alamy Stock Photo.
Update: After hearing complaints from customers, AMC has speedily ditched its plan to allow texting in theaters. This morning, the company tweeted, "NO TEXTING AT AMC. Won't happen. You spoke. We listened. Quickly, that idea has been sent to the cutting room floor." Hallelujah.

This story was originally published April 14, 2016.

As a tech editor, I'm all for using your phone, tablet, or wearable to stay in touch and get more out of your day. But even I understand that there are certain places where said technology should be put in airplane mode and out of sight. At the top of that list, for me, are movie theaters.

If I want or need to be on my phone while taking in a flick, I can stream one on my laptop. But there's still something about actually going to the movies that feels wonderfully escapist. The lights go down, the music starts, and the last thing I want to see are distracting screens glowing throughout the theater that remind me that I haven't actually been transported to the 1800s.

So I was upset to read a recent interview that AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron gave to Variety in which he says that he's open to allowing texting in theaters. In response to the question, "Would appealing to millennials involve allowing texting or cell phone use?" Aron replies:

"Yes. 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 cell phone. That’s not how they live their life."

I see Aron's point — many of us are attached to our phones, myself included. But, really? You can't keep rules about turning off (or at least putting away) cell phones in a public place? Sure, there's no safety-based reason for doing so, like while driving, but doing your best to not be disruptive to everyone around you is basic etiquette. And complying with that should have nothing to do with age.

Aron acknowledges in the interview that "[AMC is] going to have to figure out a way to [allow cell phone use] that doesn't disturb today's audiences."

I have no idea what that way will be, but I doubt that anything that allows more than one screen — the big screen — in a theater will lead anywhere positive. Especially when we've all forked over nearly $20 for the chance to escape for a few hours.
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