From USA Today:
Movie theaters don't have vice principals or hall monitors to enforce the rules, but they seem headed that way as they step up their battle with a big and growing problem: rude customers.
Major chains are telling managers to monitor audiences more frequently and clamp down on disruptions, including cellphone use, talking and gross littering.
Well, first off, everyone litters at a movie theater. They just do. So, this "gross littering" would have to be really, really, phenomenally gross–like making a life-size Milk Duds sculpture on one of the seats, or creating a slip and slide in the aisle with that fake popcorn butter or something–to qualify as a disruption. Secondly, movie theaters do have hall monitors. They're called ushers, they're always high school students, and they're usually clustered in the back of the theater, laughing and pretending to sweep up. But, honestly, what else do movie-goers need? If someone is talking (and it's not adding to your enjoyment of the movie), tell them to shut up. Everyone's a grown-up, except for the babies that people bring to horror movies, right? It's not like there's a button you can push to directly whine to the theater manager about how your movie-going experience is being totally ruined, right? Wrong.
The largest theater owner even is enlisting moviegoers themselves. This week, Regal Entertainment Group will significantly expand a program to give selected patrons wireless devices to anonymously alert the manager of disruptions.
"We have noticed over the years that customer etiquette has become more and more of a problem," says Dick Westerling, Regal's senior vice president of marketing and advertising. "We're doing what we can to provide a friendly environment for all moviegoers."
Aww. A friendlier environment! Full of tattletales punching glow-in-the-dark buttons! And complaining about how hard it is to watch a movie in public! Here's what that wireless device looks like:
And it's only slightly less annoying than having the guy next to you text throughout the entire movie.
Regal [will introduce] its Regal Guest Response System in 114 theaters, up from a test at 13 that began last year. Customers in Regal's loyalty points program will be invited to take a cellphone-size device into the theater. If something pushes their buttons – a disturbance, picture or sound glitch, someone recording the film – they can push one of four buttons to alert the manager.
Unfortunately, there is no "Awkward Storytelling/Preposterous Dialogue" button. My favorite button is "Piracy." I love how they stuck that one in there, because unless you're Steven Spielberg, knowing that someone is recording the film isn't that disruptive. Also, just to be safe, Regal should consider an "I've Just Been Stabbed For Using This Whine-O-Tron Too Much" button.