AMC To Allow Texting At The Cinema

One of the last sacred rules of cinema going may be extinguished, at least at select screenings at one major U.S. theater chain.

Adam Aron, the head of AMC Entertainment, has indicated that he’s willing to allow texting and cell phone use during some films in order to try and make cinemagoing more appealing to the millennial crowd.

Talking with Variety at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week, Aron discussed attempts to appeal to certain segments of the population that don’t see many films in cinemas. Things which go beyond new food options and a better loyalty program:

“We need to reshape our product in some concrete ways so that millennials go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives.”

When asked whether this would involve allowing texting and cell phone use during movies, he said:

“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 cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.

At the same time, though, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on.”

One idea is making specific auditoriums more texting friendly. AMC Theatres followed up Aron’s comments with a tweeted statement saying: “If ever, we only would pursue in a way that we can be totally confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy the moviegoing experience at AMC”

The comments come as talk of Sean Parker’s Screening Room initiative was taking place all over CinemaCon with exhibitors naturally against the idea while major filmmakers were divided on it.Variety has posted reaction from a report which is essentially the first public study on the popular appeal of a set top box offering major movies for rent day-and-date with theatrical for a premium price.

One in four consumers said they would “definitely pay to use” that kind of a service, but the proposed $50 price tag was too high with the average consumer spending a maximum of $35 to rent a new movie at home. Interest was highest among avid moviegoers and older parents.

On the flip side one in three would “definitely not” pay to use the service, and four-fifths did not want yet another set top box in their home. It was also indicated that those who used the service would do so not to watch more content, rather to watch stuff they would go out and see theatrically anyhow.