Texting in a movie theater? AMC Considers lifting ban

The AMC Westshore 14 movie theater in Tampa.
The AMC Westshore 14 movie theater in Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The CEO of AMC Theatres says his company is considering loosening its ban on texting during movies.

In an interview with Variety Magazine, AMC CEO Adam Aron said his company is looking for ways to reshape the movie-going experience so that millennials go to movie theaters as often as baby boomers did before them.

“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.”

Aron told the magazine they need to find a way to do it that doesn’t disturb existing audiences. Options include texting sections in auditoriums or making specific auditoriums more texting friendly.

Since the article was published Wednesday, Aron has been subjected to social media outrage on the subject. Aron took to Twitter early Thursday morning to clarify his statements.

AMC is the second-largest theater chain in the country and is poised to become the largest after acquiring Carmike Cinemas. AMC operates a number of theaters in the Tampa Bay area, including in Tampa, Brandon and Orlando areas.

On Thursday News Channel 8 talked with moviegoers at Tampa’s AMC Veterans 24.

“I feel like the theater chains are having such a hard time already just trying to get people to come out to the theaters, competing with Netflix, On Demand and all of that,” Robert Yaniz said.

Yaniz said allowing texting would not be a smart move. “That trying to take away what makes the theater going experience sacred by opening up the floodgates to people texting, tweeting and reacting, I feel like you’re taking away the one thing that makes going to a movie special,” he said.

Tyler Hart said cellphone lights are the problem. “It’s not really the noise these days, because you can put your phone on silent. It’s the light that really messes things up,” Hart said. “Say you’re sitting in the back row and somebody in front of you with the phone on, it’s kind of distracting.”

Christina Roundtree doesn’t even bring her phone into the theater.

“Now, if it’s an emergency, you’re going to need your cellphone, but I leave mine in the car,” she said. “There’s always somebody else in the theater with their cellphone.

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