Manners at the Movies–It’s a cultural thing?

Movies. I like ’em. Lots of people like ’em. Some people even still go see them at the theater, although Disney CEO Dave Hollis’ recent speech at CinemaCon was far from optimistic. Check out this LA times article for more on that: Ryan Faughnder, the author, wrote, “The picture is bleaker, however, among teenagers — the hoped-for next generation of moviegoers — whose attendance fell 16% last year to 6.1 on average, according to a recent report by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.” Are dates to the movie theater becoming a thing of the past?! But, the humanity! SAVE THEATER DATING!

ANYWAYS. What I really want to talk about is theater etiquette. I’ve been to theaters in the US, Japan, and Thailand and each experience felt very unique.

The US–

*imo, there is something of a romantic–dare I say sexual?–enigma attached to the theater. Go with your partner, snuggle up in the dark, steal a few kisses. Ok, that’s probably oversimplifying it, but it’s definitely there!

*no assigned seating. free for all! yeahhhhh! Although, I remember more than once going to the movies and being forced to sit separately from friends. ugh, the nerve.

*correct me if I’m wrong on this, but don’t a lot of people just leave their empty popcorn and drink cups in their seats for ushers to clean up at the end of the movie? That’s how I remember it, but maybe I was just young and careless.


*movie dates, yeah, they happen. but kissing! never seen it. so maybe the romantic is there minus the sexual?

*assigned seating, guys! how orderly.

*you pick up every little last bit of popcorn that dropped on the ground and make sure it makes it to the garbage on your way out. and separate all the recyclables. it’s just what you do, you know?

*you stay until the very last credit rises and sets over the screen. out of respect for the artists? hmm, I suspect it has more to do with safety. The theater remains darkened as well and I for one don’t want to fall a break a hip (in my aged state…).

*alcohol on demand. yeah, that’s fun.

*baby theater times. Because you don’t just bring them to regular screenings. God forbid they cry!


*assigned seating. and get this, VIP seats. we’re talking serious loungers, where they bring you food and drinks, and massage your legs!

*complimentary movie goods. If I recall correctly we got magnets, pens, and paper. Free stuff, score.

And now I am off to live in India–Mumbai, in fact. The home of Bollywood. I look forward to reflecting more on this subject in the future.

Time to wind down this post, dear Internet–in case you haven’t caught on, that means you reader–have you noticed any quirky theater mannerisms in countries you’ve lived or visited??


5 thoughts on “Manners at the Movies–It’s a cultural thing?

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  1. I love the part about the alcohol in Japan and Thailand! That’s pretty cool. But in Indonesia that would be a big no no since about 88% of the population here is Muslim. Not to say that you can’t get a hold of beer here. You can guess that means kissing is out of the question! You have to leave that for home or the club.

    -The seats are so comfortable here and there’s even a living room theater with sofa recliners (but no massages included) The food and drinks are brought right to you like in a restaurant.
    -The sound system is wonderful, much better than the ones in Portland. It’s so good that you can feel the bass rumbling in your chest. I think they use Texas Instruments Company.
    -Indonesians LOVE malls and in every mall there is a cinema. In Surabaya alone which is a city of about 3 million there are about 14 malls so it’s very easy to find a cinema that doesn’t have much of a line.
    -There are 2 IMAX screens on opposite sides of town, one which is not too far from my house. Who doesn’t love IMAX with that huge screen and rumbling sound system?
    -The ticket price is so cheap. During the week for the normal screen it only costs about $3 and at the weekend $4. For the Living room screen it costs $5.50 during the week and $9 at the weekend. This is luxury! And for the IMAX it’s $4.50 during the week and $5.50 at the weekend.

    -Where I said before there are about 14 cinemas spread out through Surabaya which is a great thing. but at each cinema there is only an average of 4 or 5 screens. unfortunately tickets can run out quick for new movies, there’s not much of a variety of movies usually only the big blockbusters and the movie only stays at the cinema for a few weeks. Maybe a month at most if it sells well.
    -Believe it or not I have frequently seen people taking calls or texting/social media during the movie. In fact the person doesn’t even leave the theater. Very very annoying and of course you know what I did? I got mad at them and told them to get off their phone or leave the theater hahaha
    -Bringing children to a movie such as ‘Deadpool’ is not a good idea. The attendants/clerks don’t check IDs for rated R movies and the parents here don’t seem to review the content of the movie before they show it to their children. Maybe it’s not like that for every single parent here but I too often see a 6 year old at a movie that is not age appropriate for them.

    Hope you enjoyed reading about my movie going experience in Indonesia.


    1. Thanks for the insight, Matt!! Very interesting. No beer, though?! How do you live? So nice they are affordable! When we went to see Moana it was 1800 yen for me (about $16 US) and 1000 (about $9 US) for a child’s seat. Curious, what is considered theater food there? Here, it’s popcorn (you can even get fun flavors like corn soup and pepper..) and french fries (depending on the theater though; I’ve seen hot dogs and nachos too). I read a blog post about theaters in Mumbai and how samosas are the go to snack. Looking forward to trying it!


  2. At the normal screen you can get the regular theater snacks like popcorn (only salty and sweet), hotdogs and nachos. But at the living room screen you can have a full meal delivered right to your seat. There’s a table and everything. For me personally I prefer eating meals before or after the movie. I’m a popcorn kind of guy.


  3. It’s quite a while since I went to the movies in India, but I remember it as loud and fun. People sing along with some of the songs. (I only went to Bollywood movies). You don’t need to worry about the language – those films are comedies, romance, drama and musicals all in one – something for everyone.


    1. Thanks for the comment! I’ve seen a few Bollywood films in the past. It would be such a waste not get into them living in Mumbai. After all, I’ve got to be able to spot the celebrities out on the town. 😉


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