Millenials think and feel differently about their phones, and it might be bad for profits to take them away.
It has happened to the best of us, we are sitting in the movie theater, watching whatever happens to be on the screen, and then BAM, someone's smartphone lights up in front of you and your eyes start to have problems adjusting. If it is a onetime thing, it might not be a big deal. However, when it happens repeatedly, it might ruin the whole experience.
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Cellphone use at the movie theater (and other kinds of theater) has been debated for a long time. Still, the AMC theater chain is looking for ways to make it actually okay. Why? According to them, they are thinking about the children.
CEO of AMC Entertainment made a point that is probably true: "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."
In his interview with Variety, he repeated: "You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone." He then added: "That’s not how they live their life."
Aron believes that in order to keep people coming to the movies, they will have to convince young people that they are going to have fun. For many millennials, not having access to a phone causes stress and not fun. Moreso, using their phones and getting screamed at by a fellow theater goer might not be fun either.
He does understand that this won't necessarily solve the problem. However, it will be able to at least help the distracting glow of a text conversation or Snapchat. The volume is a different consideration.
"What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly," he explained.
The idea is that instead of punishing people for using their phones, or encouraging them not to use them at all, Aron wants to put them in other theaters. People who enter these theaters will know that it is an "anything goes" type of theater.
It really doesn't seem like that bad of a plan. They will be testing it out in a few theaters to see if it can really have wings.
"We’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences," he explained. "There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on."
He later reinforced that point in a pair of Twitter posts, after he received some backlash:
Press reported we considering a test allowing texts in a VERY FEW screens. We know vast majority of audience wants no texting (1 of 2)— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) April 14, 2016
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IF ever, we ONLY would pursue in a way we'd be TOTALLY confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy movie going experience at AMC (2 of 2)— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) April 14, 2016