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In the Journal article titled "2011's Box Office Woe and What Could/Should be Done About It" the issue of lower theater attendance in 2011 than in the previous 16 years was discussed. Following is one of a series of ideas for how theaters can make 2012 a better year.
Resolution #2: Clamp down on rude patron behavior
Rude behavior, primarily texting on cellphones, is probably the biggest complaint that people have, and it's such an irritant, that the legend of the texting patron probably is greater in scale than the actual problem. Real or not, people don't want to pay to see a movie in a theater only to have the experience spoiled by someone else in the theater not respecting others around them.
Theaters should take a hard stance against disruptive behavior, and I think they'll find themselves rewarded with greater customer satisfaction and I think they'll also find that the instances of such behavior will decline greatly once they demonstrate that they're willing to eject rude patrons.
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain made news headlines in 2011 when it made a Public Service Announcement video from a voice mail that was left for them by a patron who was ejected for texting. The chain reportedly takes a hardline stance against disruptive behavior, and they have generated a lot of goodwill from the public for doing so. Other theaters need to take that cue and do likewise.
Sending in an employee into the auditorium from time to time to discretely check for any problems with bad behavior would also give that same employee a chance to detect any issues with the presentation. Everybody wins in this scenario.
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