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Unwritten Rules When Going To The Cinema

Movie theaters have been around for more than a century. With an increasing number of websites offering streaming services, coupled with the rising cost of movie tickets, going to the cinema has become a big deal for a lot of people. In fact, the total cost of a typical movie-going experience can be compared to that of having dinner at a casual dining restaurant or watching the live concert of a famous local band.

Given these factors, it is not surprising that moviegoers expect more from their cinema experience. They want it to be perfect, or as close to perfect as possible.

However, some people forget that they are watching in public, and not at home, with other people surrounding them. How they behave in this comfy but restricted public space can affect the cinematic experience of other people. Noisy kids, adult chatter, putting the feet up on top of the seat in front, standing or walking around during screening — all of these things can negatively affect one’s movie experience.

There are ways of enjoying entertainment while avoiding getting into a fight with other patrons or getting dragged by security.

Here are a few of the (unwritten) but understood rules when it comes to going to a film theater. Read it before your next trip to the local cineplex to maximize your level of enjoyment without being considered a nuisance by others.

1. Arrive on time

Movie houses are filled with people who are just as excited to watch the film as you are. As a common courtesy, do your research, know the screening schedule, and do not arrive late. Showtimes in Dubai (and in other cinemas elsewhere) can be found online or are displayed when you buy your tickets, so you know when the movie starts.

Movie houses typically turn off the lights once they begin showing the commercials or trailers for future movies. Sometimes, this segment may take up to 20 minutes.

The 20-minute gap should give you ample time to go back for snacks, use the bathroom, or find and get to your seats. If the movie has already started, and your schedule allows it, opt for the next screening time rather than going in and fumbling around in the dark. By opting to do this, you don’t ruin the experience for other patrons who arrived early.

Seats fill up quickly, especially for blockbuster movies. As such, allocate additional time for waiting in line and getting the best seats.

2. Turn off your phone

Don’t just put your mobile device on silent or vibrating mode; turn it off. You are not watching an experimental film lasting for several days. Most movies last for two to three hours, while the longest film offerings from Hollywood don’t take beyond four and a half hours.

Unless you are a doctor or waiting for important updates from your doctor or lawyer, you can untether yourself from your device for a few hours. Turn your phone off and leave it inside your bag for the duration of the movie. Plus, turning your phone off prevents your device’s LED lights from going off and distracting you and the other people around you.

3. Be decisive

Make up your mind quickly, whether it is choosing when you want to watch the movie or buying snacks at the concession stands. You may feel that you have all the time in the world to buy, but the person behind you doesn’t. Deciding can be a lot more challenging when you are with kids.

Kids can be picky and indecisive. They can potentially hold the line for what seems like forever for the rest of the patrons standing in line. So if you want to buy snacks for your family, choose before your turn is up. Inform them of what their options are so it’s easier for them to decide early on.

Better yet, don’t go to the concession stand for movie snacks. Let your kids know that you won’t be getting any snacks and have your meal before going into the theater. By feeding them beforehand, you can avoid the awkward situation of forcing your kids to decide quickly. Plus, make sure you have ample time for a bathroom run with the kids before the movie starts.

4. Don’t bring the baby

Babies and toddlers may be cute and adorable, but they are not old enough to know about social cues. Remember that for an infant or a young child, the moviehouse is a dark and scary place to be in, even if you are there watching a cartoon or a G-rated film.

More importantly, taking them to crowded places can expose them to germs and disease. The volume of the cinema audio can also damage their delicate and underdeveloped auditory system. Best to leave them at home, or wait until they reach that age when they feel comfortable being inside a cinema, and can actually appreciate a movie.

When will a child be ready to see a movie in a cinema?

To check if your child is ready for their first movie theater experience, try replicating the environment at home. Watch movies with your toddler or young child with the lights off and the sound slightly louder than usual and see your kid’s reaction.

Your child is ready if they appear unperturbed with the noise or darkness. Do this a few times before taking your child with you to ensure that they are going to be comfortable.

If your child starts crying at any point during the film showing, bring them outside. There could be several factors that could cause this reaction, including being overstimulated.

Try to be sensitive to both the needs of your child and those of the other moviegoers. If your child still appears distressed after a few minutes outside, it could be a sign that your child is not ready. You can go to the movies with your child some other time.

5. Zip those lips

Keep the chatter down, whether you are inside the theater or on your way out. There is nothing wrong with feeling happy, sad, or scared while watching the movie. However, avoid talking too loudly or spoiling the plot for the rest of the audience.

This is especially true once the movie is over. Yes, you may have a lot of reactions about the movie, but keep them to yourself until you get home. The people waiting in line to get inside don’t know what you know, and by making comments, you are spoiling their experience.

Keep these tips in mind when you go to the cinema. Remember that you are not the only one trying to have fun, so always observe cinema courtesy.


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.

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