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Regal Tests Devices that Allow Patrons to Report Cell Phone Users, Problems

Posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2006 10:49 AM

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Reuters is reporting that Regal Cinemas is testing a new device that will allow select patrons to report inconsiderate audience members as well as problems with the sound or picture in the auditorium. The four-button device also has "temperature" and "other" buttons so that the management of the theater can be alerted to such problems without forcing their customers to leave their seats.

Regal is testing devices at 25 of its theater locations, handing them out to frequent customers and may roll it out nationwide in the next year if it proves successful, Campbell said. Regal operates 6,400 screens nationwide.


The device is part of Regal's efforts to keep fans coming back to the box office by making sure they still enjoy the experience, even as the movie industry faces greater competition from other media such as the Internet or video games.

"The biggest problem we have is we don't know when this (cellphone disruption) is occurring in your theaters until it's too late," Campbell said. "A lot of customers won't say anything, they just will complain on their way out or in the worst case scenario, they don't come back."

While I applaud any efforts by a theater to improve the moviegoing experience for their customers, I can't help but wonder if some additional diligence on the part of the staff wouldn't be just as effective.

How hard is it for a staff member to poke their head in an auditorium two or three times during a show to make sure that everything is running OK? The person running the projectors (it's difficult to call them projectionists when they aren't actually dedicated to the task) should be able to notice focus, framing, and sound problems for every screen right from the booth.

However, it's increasingly common for the person manning the projectors to also be in charge of popping the popcorn, so shifting the responsibility for quality control to the customers is better than having no quality control at all.

If people just started walking out and demanding their money back when faced with unruly patrons or unacceptable quality problems, you can be sure that management will step up their efforts to improve their monitoring on their own. Until then, maybe these devices can do some good.

Click the Read link to view the entire article by Reuters. 

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