190614 chair kicking
From chair kicking and loud crunching, to babies crying and full-on phone conversations, those at a cinema are often made to bear a lot of insensitivities from fellow viewers. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: We have all fallen victim to someone else’s bad behaviour at the cinema. From chair kicking and loud crunching, to babies crying and full-on phone conversations during what is supposed to be a time to zone out and enjoy the big screen.

But apart from the regular notice that comes on screen before films, asking viewers to put their phones on silent, there are many unspoken rules that cinemas assume viewers are aware off.

Many people have wondered which behaviours qualify for a complaint and what the rules are regarding irritating behaviour at the movies.

Phones and crying babies:

When it comes to loud and disturbing sounds, it’s valid to complain to a staff member about phone conversations, bright screen lights and even crying babies.

Among the official rules at Reel Cinemas is putting phones on silent and lowering the brightness.

“Some of the most important rules the public must respect is being considerate towards fellow movie lovers by turning phones off or on silent, avoiding conversations with other movie-goers and being of least disturbance to fellow viewers,” said a Reel Cinemas spokesperson.

As for loud cries from babies and small children, Reel Cinemas politely requests parents to step out of the movie hall until the babies are happy, noting that prams are not allowed in the theatre.

Similarly, VOX cinemas said their staff members have been trained to request parents to step outside the auditorium to calm their crying baby if it is disrupting a screening.

“In order to reduce such instances, we have recently started ‘Parents and Babies Mornings’, where parents of young ones can watch the latest movies without worrying that they’ll have to run for the door if the little one gets fussy,” said Michelle Walsh, chief operating officer, Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas. They also offer a cinema experience named ‘Kids’ that is designed specifically for families and children.

Loud munching and disturbing behaviour:

You may not officially be able to complain about your unlucky fate of sitting next to a loud muncher, but there are rules about the types of food and drinks allowed in the cinema.

Bringing food and beverages from outside the cinema premises into the theatre is not allowed.

“Members of our staff are trained to check in at different intervals during a movie screening to ensure that disturbances are managed and kept to a minimum, delivering a pleasant experience for everyone,” said Walsh.

In the case of disruptive behaviour inside the cinema, staff members are also trained to inform the customer of their behaviour and give them a friendly warning.

“If the disruptive behaviour persists, the customer in question is given a warning. However, if this warning is not respected then our staff reserve the right to ask the disruptive customer to leave the auditorium to avoid further disturbance,” added Walsh.

Disruptive behaviour can vary, with one rule of thumb that is applied across the country.

“Everyone can enjoy the movies as long as UAE laws and regulations are adhered to,” said the spokesperson from Reel Cinemas. These include anything from the UAE’s laws on appropriate dress code, to swearing in public.

So let’s reduce any annoying habits we have at the cinemas and make sure trouble-makers are warned.

Dos and don’ts while at the cinemas:

Dos ...

  • Place your phone on silent and on the lowest brightness screen setting.
  • Arrive 15-20 minutes before the movie starts.
  • Bring valid ID for proof of age.
  • Notify staff of any behaviour that is disrupting your experience.
  • Save your thoughts and feedback on the movie until after.

Don’ts ...

  • Bring in food from outside the premises
  • Eat, drink or speak on the phone loudly
  • Smoke inside the theatre
  • Record inside the theatre
  • Place your feet or legs on the seats in front