Read an open letter from the Alamo Drafthouse Tim League on text friendly screenings

3 min read

To text or not to text, that is the SMS that is noisley typed during many a movie screening. We’ve touched on that debate before, with one compromise that is being suggested, is to allow text-friendly versions of film to be shown, allowing the small bright screen brigade access to their devices while the action unfolds on the screen.

But if there’s one industry player that hates the idea with a passion, it’s Tim League, owner of the Alamo Drafthouse, a theatre seen by many as a final bastion for escaping those annoying devices.

Responding to a Chris Davison article which proposed the idea of safe zones and text zones for movies, League expressed how “horrified” he was with the idea, in the following letter on the blog, summarised in three specific points:

1) Texting is rude to the film creators. It is a slap in the face to every single creative professional who poured their lives into creating the film.

When I am carrying on a mere casual conversation and someone whips out a phone to text while I am talking to them, I am offended.  Imagine amplifying that to texting during a film which can take teams of thousands of people years to make.  Consider the independent feature parallel.

Imagine leveraging every penny you own or worse, going into incredible debt in order to share your creative vision with the public, only to have an audience half-watching while conceiving pithy tweets.

2) The notion that all teenagers and twenty-somethings can’t sit two hours without texting is condescending. […] Real movie fans can, and actively want to, shut off their devices for two hours to watch a movie regardless of how old they are.
If we as an industry cater to the notion that texting and talking during a movie is condoned if not encouraged, then we disgust our true patrons, the real movie fans.
Real movie fans can, and actively want to, shut off their devices for two hours to watch a movie regardless of how old they are.

3) Texting is rude to everyone around you. Even if, as Chris Davison proposes, we designate theaters as “texting friendly,” there will be people in the movie who are real movie fans who want to just watch the show without distraction.

And the man has a point. There are still plenty of places where using a phone is frowned on, such as airplanes, churches, funerals and Scientology stalking sessions, and if they can manage to dissuade attendees from using their handhelds, then surely a setting where you’re paying to be entertained can do so as well?

But that’s the problem here, as larger movie ffranchises are reluctant to impose such rules on customers, especially when it means losing out on potential cash.

But if they were to open the doors for texting and calling however, they could make far more money in the process.


Last Updated: July 18, 2012

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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