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Wittertainment's Cinema Code of Conduct

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David Braithwaite | 15:38 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

In this week's edition of Mark and Simon's film review programme Dr Mayo suggested cinemas should adopt a Code of Conduct. Mark agreed and his initial rules were no kicking, no talking and no texting.

This prompted a load of texts and emails from listeners. Here's a selection of what came in today. Have a look and leave a comment to suggest your own and we'll discuss further in future shows.

First the emails...

My rule would be no Brit should have to watch a film in the States. On holiday many years ago my wife and I saw went to see Indecent Proposal in a small cinema near Lake Tahoe. Maybe O'm being unfair but all the locals talked throughout the movie and mainly due to needing to explain to their partners was happening. It wasn't the most complicated film and I really couldn't see the need.
Rob from Bewdley

In relation to your list of cinema dos and don'ts, how about a ban on the person sitting next to you fidgeting impatiently because you aren't responding to the film in the way he thinks you should be? Could read "No exasperated gasping at the other spectators".
Dr Linda Ruth Williams

People should not be allowed in late. It is bad enough when they disturb the audience to reach their seat during the trailers, which for me are an integral part of the cinema going experience. But to walk in after the main feature has started is unforgiveable. Cinemas should not allow anyone in after the film has started, just as they are supposed to do in the theatre.
Dawn, Chelmsford

No burritos. Once I arranged to meet my girlfriend in the cinema and would sort us out something to eat as we hadn't had any tea. I usually smuggle in chocolate peanuts and bottled fizzy drink. However this time I was in a rush and the first thing I spotted was the local burrito takeaway... I couldn't wait to see the delight on my girlfriend's face as I fulfilled my male hunter gatherer responsibilities. Once sat down the look of delight soon turned into a look of horror as I passed her a hot, steamy burrito wrapped in tin foil. I can only imagine what the people behind me were thinking as I was concentrating too hard on trying to eat a burrito wrapped in tin foil quietly, without spilling. But the worst thing must have been the hot, meaty smell which was terrorising the people sat near us. Even though the burrito was rather tasty we only managed to eat half of it and at that point I vowed never to take hot food into the cinema again.
Steve Worsley BSc Computer Science, Grade 1 in drums

No snoring. Before becoming expats in the land of cuckoo clocks and chocolate Huffy and I would frequent the wonderful Picture House in Exeter. No matter what film or what showing (even the 11am showing of Creature of the Black Lagoon 3D) there would be a snorer. I could understand it in Titanic but not Creature. At our local IMAX (Verkehrhaus Luzern) they have a little trailer in German about cinema etiquette at the end of the list of no eating, talking, using mobiles it says "Kissen ist nicht Verboten, naturalich" (kissing is not forbidden, of course) followed by two frogs kissing which is course followed by the lots of loud lip action and giggling and from my kids (ahh mum do you have to!) but then it goes nicely quiet. This could be that the Swiss are polite rule abiding people or that they know that they will get an intermission , yes, an intermission right in the middle of the film with no care for suspense of the film.
Mandy, Switzerland

I live in Warsaw in Poland and we do have cinemas with bigger sits, or more specifically, screens with large, first class-like leather chairs. It is enormously comfortable to be able to watch a movie without anyone disturbing you with kicking etc. Sure, tickets are about 30% more expensive, but that guarantees that only movie fans will be in the audience and a movie fan understands that you are not supposed to tweet, talk or eat loudly during a showing of a movie, so it is a win-win situation.

Luke Rudnicki

And now the texts...

No slurping drinks - Dave Jones, Bristol

No laser pens, any transgression may result in the offender being force fed the same pen. - Dan (Tyneside Cinema regular )

No sitting in front of people if you're tall... No saying "what was it he was in?" and no singing along with the Pearl & Dean tune, and no saying how much Revels are in Tesco. - Jade

No pretentious guffaws at poor lines of dialogue - Jonathan in Sheffield

No shaking of ice cubes when at the bottom of your drink. - Max the Axe

Zero tolerance of people taking off there shoes and making other members of the audience endure their foot odour! - Neil in Guildford

No Knitting. - David Sower. Bromley, Kent.

So, what are your suggestions?

UPDATE - Friday 3 December
You can now watch the Code of Conduct in spectacular Witter-vision on the Kermode Uncut blog.

Related links
Mark & Simon's Film Review Podcast
Kermode & Mayo's Film Reviews website - full archive of reviews

Live streaming viewers may know David Braithwaite as one of the gentlemen peering into the studio from the production booth each week.


  • Comment number 1.

    No food especially hot food like nachos and hotdogs - yuck!
    No small children that are clearly not old enough to be interested by the move and run up and down the aisles.
    No morons who have to ask " Who's that?" or "What's happening now?" every few seconds.
    No talking.
    No kicking chairs.
    No texting or tweeting infact no mobile devices, they must be left at the door.
    No fidgeting
    No one who thinks that the Orange ads are funny.

  • Comment number 2.

    If over 75% of the audiance are teens and the film is a vampire parody movie, you know that all cinema rules do not apply and the best thing would be to put in your ipod and listen to an old wittertainment podcast. This is what I did this afternoon

  • Comment number 3.

    No walking into a nearly empty cinema and sitting near the only other people in the place. I've been on both ends of this. Going to see Confessions of a Dangerous Mind my girlfriend at the time (this wasn't the reason for the split) marched into the - admittedly pretty dark but then aren't they all - cinema choosing the seat directly in front of the only other people in the whole place. I was trailing behind and arrived just in time to see them gather their things and move elsewhere.
    I've fallen foul of this several times the most memorable being an empty screen for The Phantom Menace. My friend and I had the pick of seats and positioned ourselves slap bang in the middle. The lights dimmed then the doors opened and a coachload of children flooded into the screen taking up the row behind us. It's testament to how bad the film was that at the points we were feeling listless they were crawling about on the floor, kicking the seats and generally making a racket. It should have been a sign not to see any of the other prequels but I sat through them all.

  • Comment number 4.

    No teenagers.

  • Comment number 5.

    I once went to the cinema with a rather 'posh' lad. We'd agreed to split the costs - he'd buy the tickets and I'd buy the food. At the interval (there were B features at this time) I bought two tomato sauce laden hot dogs and went back in. The trailers before the main feature had started by now and I passed him the hot dog in the dark. For the next thirty seconds or so there was just the sound of muffled squeaks from my new beau until finally he gasped - "what the hell is this?" Heaven knows what anyone around us thought was going on. I muttered it was a hot dog. "A what?" he said rather too loudly for my liking. "It's all slimy." He'd never had a hot dog before. When the lights went up everyone stared. he was liberally smeared in tomato sauce, hair, shirt, trousers, face. I didn't see him again.....not sure why.

  • Comment number 6.

    How about a rule banning hard liquor? I don't mind alcohol per se (an over priced glass of wine or beer served in a plastic beaker makes the whole cinema experience feel a bit more sophisticated and grown up in my opinion) but I draw the line at the swigging of Malibu from the bottle which was what a loud, sweary, scouse woman was doing next to me at a showing of The Simpsons Movie at the Odeon Covent Garden.

  • Comment number 7.

    Simply - "No"

    Courtesy of Black Books

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    ban adverts! i came to watch a film not 20 minutes of people trying to sell me rubbish products. and stop the unfunny orange wednesdays ads aswell.

  • Comment number 10.

    Anyone with big Rusell Brand type hair, unless of course it IS Rusell Brand.

  • Comment number 11.

    Surely, one of the key rules should be:

    Only watch a film that you actually want to watch.

    I think most other non-discriminative (it would be cruel to limit where a tall people can sit is not really fair) rules will follow. From what I have noticed, the people who actually wanted to watch the film didn't buy food and didn't seem to use their phones. However, the ones who you hear saying 'What are we watching?' always seem to buy food and never shut up. It may also mean that if the person is not enjoying the film they're watching will just leave. It may also get rid of large social groups (who just come to the cinema to be social, although a cinema isn't the best place to be social) ecause most of them won't be interested in the film. When I watched 'State of Play', my friend wouldn't stop fidgeting because he didn't really want to watch the film. And so on...

  • Comment number 12.

    Basically, you there for the film, nothing else!

  • Comment number 13.

    as a caveat to the no kicking of chairs. can we please add no putting your sweat ladened feet on the chair in front of you. On numerous occasions seated comfortably with a few empty seats around me. an all too familiar shadow appears in the gloom and at the corner of my eye i see the sweaty often twitchy articles draped either on or over the seat next to me. despite the best intentions of the film, my attention is and always drawn to the swingy, smelly film spoilers. please stop this. its not comfortable for you, its just a way of you being able to exhibit power and control and by the same token i shall have to show you my primed crossbow.
    be polite

  • Comment number 14.

    Here in Korea there is a popular snack called 'Ojingo', which English speakers would call 'Dried Squid'. I think ojingo deserves a place in the Code of Conduct because it literally sinks like dead mollusc and elicits loud chewing sounds from the devourer during mastication. More than once I've fantasized about beating ojingo-chompers to death with their flaccid, stinky cephalopod carcass.

    Actually, I suppose it could be forgiven in the right film. The Squid and the Whale, maybe. Or the eagerly awaited Max Neptune and the Menacing Squid.

  • Comment number 15.

    I would like to propose some solutions to the common problems:
    Kicking of the chair in front could be automatically punished by running a wire (similar to an electric fence found on a farm) along the back of the row in front that could administer an uncomfortable jolt when ones feet venture too far forwards.
    Talking and general fidgeting noise (including delving into packets of snacks) could be monitored with microphones imbedded into the seats. When the noise reaches critical levels a picture of a face making the “shush!” signal could flash up on a screen placed on the back of the chair in front. For example a neutral character such as Max headroom could be used or a film specific avatar could be employed such as Rupert Grint for a Harry Potter film. The one caveat of course would be when noise is appropriate, such as laughter or gasps but the microphones could be turned off at these points in the film.
    Rustling of packets could be stopped all together by making people decant their snacks into pots of some description. These containers should have a wide opening so access is both easier for the patron and very quiet for everyone else, a win-win! We’re all used to a similar exercise with liquids at the airport so this could easily become second nature.
    When a mobile is used a bright spotlight should shine on that person’s seat for two minutes marking them out as the culprit to the assembled movie-goers. Hopefully shaming them to such an extent they would think twice before letting their phone escape their bag or pocket in the future.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just because you are in a dark and ambiguous room filled with strangers, it does not give you any right, and there is no pleasant way to put this, FART! Too many times has my nostrils been assaulted with an overly pungent aroma mixed in with the sweet smell of popcorn!

  • Comment number 17.

    I would add three rules:

    1) In line with the swimming poster, where this idea comes from, NO HORSEPLAY. I never knew what it meant so it must cover most of what hasn't already been said.

    2) You must stay until the end of the credits.

    3) You must not clap at the end of a film, as the people who made the film can't hear your applause. This has happened to me twice; in Sheffield where I saw The Full Monty. I think the people just clapped because they recognised places they knew, and in Spain when I saw The Passion of Christ, I'm not sure why they clapped, I guess they just really like Jesus.

  • Comment number 18.

    During a visit to my local cinema to see Toy Story 3 two young mothers and their three children came in during the adverts (perfectly fine). But in their children's hands there were balloons from the nearby pizza restaurant. This angered me greatly but what heightened this was the fact they decided to sit on the front row, balloons still hovering in the air. My mumbled ranting to my girlfriend soon started. Thankfully the mother decided to shove them under her chair, problem solved. Until mid-film when a silouette emerged over Buzz Lightyear's face. The balloon then drifted up across the screen and then slowly over the audience, it took a fellow audience member to jump up and grab it's string and put it under their chair which was greeted my applause.


  • Comment number 19.

    Surely NO USE OF MOBILE PHONES WHATSOEVER should be applied? There is nothing more annoying than uninterested teenage twerps using their mobile telephones to text, tweet or play games, which only serves to distract anyone with a line of site to their phone.

    Regarding crisp packets, they actually make the packets deliberately noisy, as it 'adds to the satisfaction'. Perhaps we should insist that Cinemas only sell quiet crisp packets.

  • Comment number 20.

    How about no pretending you don't understand what the person has said when they tell you to shut up! Toilet? No not toilet, stop talking! I can't hear Hannibal telling us the intricate details of the plan you idiot!

    Rule: No reinterpretation of rebukes from fellow cinema goers.

  • Comment number 21.

    No people.
    Watching a film is not a social experience.

    (That Meldrew was to damn cheerful for his own good)

  • Comment number 22.

    No Brainers:
    1. Stop allowing food & drinks into the actual screening.
    2. Use inexpensive phone jammer technology to stop phones being able to send or receive a signal.
    3. Increase ticket prices slightly so that more comfortable seats can be installed with more space between each row.
    4. Display time that the film actually starts and shut the door once it has.

  • Comment number 23.

    5. No cinema cleaners or lights on until the end of credits
    6. No sharing popcorn across the aisle or between rows
    7. No picnics from supermarket plastic bags
    8. No children in PGs who haven't learnt to sit still and be quiet
    9. No 'gang of lads' who feel obliged to guffaw in unison
    10. No 'gang of lads' clustered in multiple rows, linear seating only
    11. No eating as if you haven't eaten for a week or won't for another week
    12. Remember your head is not transparent before you chose a seat
    13. Chosing a seat with two (or even) gaps will make it easier for arriving pairs
    14. Timing your arrival after the ads and then expecting people to leap to their feet to let you in

  • Comment number 24.

    No leaning over to your partner and saying "thats not how it happens in the book". You have no idea how difficult it was for me to resist the temptation to follow this rule during recent viewings of the excellent The Girl with the dragon tattoo and The girl that played with fire, well I held my tongue till we got in the car and then I couldn't hold it in anymore and it all came bursting out!! I'm sure this rule has been broken by many a loose tongued bookworm on numerous occasion in cinemas around the globe including during the Lord of the rings trilogy and barry trotter...

  • Comment number 25.

    The joy of watching a classic childrens feature is so often spoiled by kids running up and down the isles and chattering so why not have adult only screenings of Toy Story etc...

  • Comment number 26.

    Wearing too much perfume or cologne.

    Like Mark, I have my favorite seat and always try to arrive early enough to get it. On more than one occasion I've had to move because of someone who comes in late and is doused in what they think is a pleasant scent. (It might be if I had to get close enough to sniff your neck to smell it!)

    Once, attending a three hour film for which I had arrived even earlier than usual, my friend and I ended up spending most of it standing in the rear of the theatre. At the very last minute a woman had come in, plopped down in front of us and was wearing enough perfume to fumigate the place! We could think of nothing else except that smell and how sick it was making us. We got up to move, but the screening was sold out and there were no seats to move to! I can still smell that perfume when I think of the film we saw, more than I can even remember the details of the film!

  • Comment number 27.

    Much of the troubles at the cinema would be solved if teenagers were summarily banned. Forever. Ditto with late arrivals.

  • Comment number 28.

    I have something to add to your code of conduct...

    I have to agree with Hitchcock...but extending from Psycho to ALL movies. Patrons shall not be permitted to enter the screening once the main feature has begun. They shall instead return to the box office to claim a refund or exchange their tickets for ones for a later screening. If arriving during the previews or supporting feature the patron shall either wait outside the theatre or enter quietly and stand silently by the entrance until the house lights are brought up before attempting to find a seat.

    There's very little worse than trying to settle into a movie experience while a stream of people come in and debate, walk up and down, point and generally fumble around in the dark before making me stand up and blocking my view. Cinemas and patrons have a responsibility to allow the film to be as good as it can be; don't allow the first ten minutes to be fudged.

    On a related note... thou shall not turf people people out of the seats that you have been assigned for no particular reason. If you want particular seats/want to ensure you're sitting together then you arrive early. (obviously there will be an exceptions for the disabled)


    Under "no talking" there should be some warning that a film might not have a strictly linear narrative structure, so it is not acceptable to ask the person sitting next to you questions like "why is she doing that?", or "where are they?", especially when that person has not seen the film before and so ipso facto DOES NOT HAVE ANY BETTER IDEA THAN YOU DO!

    That is all

  • Comment number 29.

    It's the non stop rustling or foraging into seemingly never emptying packets and containers that makes me want to commit many of the other no-no's on the offending party (kicking the back of their seat being a case in point). Cinemas should only ever sell 'quiet' food, marshmallows, baps, bananas, ice cream, all in some soft cotton based packaging.

  • Comment number 30.

    My friend and I along with two of her children went to our local two screen cinema to watch Twilight New Moon on the release date (normally we would have been able to control ourselves and watch it a few days later) I was instantly suspicious as we were unable to book seats at the back of the cinema but we were pleased to be watching the film! So a gaggle of 30yr old ish women came in....late.....just before the film started and proceeded to laugh and giggle all the way to the back of the cinema! They then struggled past people to get to their seats, and then in very loud voices discuss whether they should go back to the restaurant to get a glass of wine (our cinema is lovely!) but would they miss an essential two seconds of the film! I was getting quite annoyed and even though I'm british and therefore hate complaining i was tempted to turn around and say 'just get a glass of wine already' so anyway the wine was bought! Which then made for a very drunken giggly group of women who had to laugh at every revealing of Jacob's six-pack. They were so distracting (I felt sorry for the extreme Twilight fans who were wearing the T-shirts!) that a poor 'dragged along' boyfriend said a very loud 'shush' which shut them up for about two minutes!

    So basically my rule for the cinema is IT IS NOT YOUR SITTING ROOM BE QUIET OR GO HOME!

  • Comment number 31.

    At our cinema you actually book seats so it's hilarious to watch the comedy element of the look at the tickets and re-shuffle of people when they are caught sitting in someone elses better seats than theirs!

    I am annoyed mostly by people coming in late and disturbing others and people having to get up and disturbing people by going to the loo........maybe if you have a weak bladder don't buy a bucket of coke!!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    May I be permitted to slightly expand the code – saw Joe Bonamassa in Bristol on Thursday – fabulous – but people using camera phones constantly taking pictures that will invariably be rubbish resolution out of focus and mostly of the back of people's heads must surely be banned! And yes the woman in front of me with the autographed photo of Joe – I mean you!

  • Comment number 33.

    Slightly off topic - but can we all ask that all cinemas issue proper tickets - instead of some pathetic receipt that looks exactly the same as the one they give you for whatever, sugar drenched snack or beverage you happened to buy.
    Call me sentimental, but I used to enjoy finding some old cinema ticket, either because it made me think about what a good/bad film I'd been to see or who I saw the film with.

  • Comment number 34.

    Having to stand in long queues for 25 minutes during Melbourne's film festival, when finally I got into a screen I started to hunt for a free seat only to be told on several occasions 'sorry I'm saving this seat' or 'these four seats are taken...!". If people can't get there on time they can lose the privelidge to sit with their friends. What the importance of sitting next to someone you know is anyway I don't know? As they shouldn't be talking during the film.

    Sorry mums, you can wait for the DVD.... You may love the thing making that noise, but nobody else in a cinema will.

  • Comment number 35.

    No turning up late, if you are not in your seat by the time the film starts your ticket becomes null and void. Anybody who goes to the cinema regularly will know that if you go by the scheduled start time there will be up to half an hour of adverts and trailers before the film begins, this should give people quite a large margin for error you'd think. To have People come shuffling in 10 - 15 minutes after the film has started is maddening, especially as these same people usually decide that despite the fact that the film has already started they still have time to buy buckets of popcorn, drinks or whatever, and of course because the lights have gone down it takes twice as long as it normally would for them to find their seats. The cinemas themselves are partially to blame for letting people in late in the first place. I think that it should be a condition of buying a cinema ticket that you don't get in if you turn up after the start of the film, no refunds end of story.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why not arm cinema staff with night-vision googles and sophisticated snooping devices so they can monitor the behaviour of people in the cinema? When someone transgresses the rules of etiquette enough times, a member of staff pushes a button and the customer's chair drops through a trap door and ejects them onto the street.

  • Comment number 37.

    Patrons should shower before attending the cinema.

  • Comment number 38.

    How about printing up wittertainment cards, complete with photo ID for those who can watch a film without having to check their facebook status every 5 minutes and have wittertainment only screenings?

  • Comment number 39.

    No one talks in an art gallery. No one talks in a church. No one talks in a lecture (sleeping is allowed though).

    There's a moment in Seinfeld which goes a little like this and reminds me very much about what I'd like to do at times.

    [two noisy people sit behind George Costanza and his date Corinne in cinema, eating popcorn, kicking seats, and generally being noisy]
    Corinne: George maybe we should move away.
    George Costanza: That won't be necessary.
    [Stands up and turns around to address the noise-makers]
    George Costanza: Shut your traps and stop kicking the seats! We're trying to watch the movie. And if I have to tell you again, I'm gonna take you outside and show you what it's like. Do you understand me? Now, shut your mouths or else I'll shut them for you... and if you think I'm kidding, just try me. Try me. Because, I would LOVE IT!

    George Costanza, you're my hero. You're everything I want to be!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    No challenging people to a fight if you are asked to move from their seat.

  • Comment number 41.

    No giggling at the mention of Harry's "wand"

  • Comment number 42.

    No placing your arms on both armrests when in a busy cinema.

  • Comment number 43.

    Cinema Code of Conduct: 'If you are not able to eat nor behave like a civilized human being, go back to the jungle'.

  • Comment number 44.

    No shagging (an obvious one I would have thought, but apparently not for the more hormonal among us)! Iron Man was ruined for me thanks to a teenage couple sitting behind me apparently finding Robert Downey uninspiring and creating their own entertainment by going at it like rabbits at 2pm in a busy cinema in Guildford.
    They completely ignored any requests from the rest of their extremely unwilling audience to get a room and it took about me about 20 minutes to get a member of staff to kick them out, (part of the problem with cinemas I've found is that the staff are extremely wussy about enforcing any rules, which is why I think this code of conduct idea might be doomed to failure unless they start employing knee knocking-ly scary bouncers). Now I can't watch Iron Man without having vom inducing flashbacks to the experience (in fact I'm having one now *gags*)!

  • Comment number 45.

    Overt non-verbal critiquing/expressions of deep understanding. For example; clasping of chin in a philosophical manner, whilst humming, in order to express to those around a level of cinematic comprehension that they could only dream of.

    Such operations shoud only be undertaken by a fully qualified doctor.

  • Comment number 46.

    If you're stupid, don't go and see Inception and ruin for those who actually did understand it until your boyfriend had to try and tell us all what he thought was happening which unsurprisingly, wasn't happening but still confused me momentarily.

    In short,
    - Stupid people should only watch intelligent movies on DVD.

    Oh, and don't 'WOOOOOOOP' when someone removes of their shirt/clothing. I have had this twice when forced to see two movies; Transformers 2 when *SPOILER ALERT* a robot thing comes out of some woman's behind, and New Monn, where Taylor Lautner is shirtless whilst speaking but of course, we couldn't hear that.

    Oh, and don't be sick and leave it. It has happened.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't go the the cinema for all the reasons discussed above. Why should I anyway when I can wait for it on SKY/DVD and watch it is the comfort of my own home!

  • Comment number 48.

    I know these have been repeated a number of times but I would just like to add my vote:

    NO TALKING --this includes not only irrelevant conversation but also comments on the film, queries about who characters are, why they're doing what they're doing or what we think is going to happen next, repeating or expounding on gags, or even commentary sound effects with meaningful stares to elicit response. If you don't understand what's going on, pay closer attention to the film and maybe you'll get it. If you have a comment or a joke to make, presumably your friends will stick around with you long enough after the film is over so that you can discuss it then. Also, by not commenting on the film while it's happening, you stand less of a chance of missing other bits of the film, which may lead to fewer instances of not knowing what's going on.
    NO RUDE MOUTH SOUNDS --this includes any noise made with the mouth that penetrates into another audience member's personal space. Common sources of rude mouth noises are eating, chewing gum, drinking, and kissing. If you can't do these quietly, don't do them in the cinema.
    NO CHILDREN OF INAPPROPRIATE AGE --in other words, please do not take your 5 year-old to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Your child will not enjoy it and the audience will not enjoy being around your child not enjoying the film.

    That's actually really it. Most of my major complaints are noise-related. I also find phoning and texting in the cinema unforgivably rude, but have little personal experience of being offended by them as (1) it rarely happens in the cinemas I go to and (2) if someone's cell phone does go off, it's usually because the phone's owner forgot to shut it down before the film started and said owner is very embarrassed and quickly gets rid of the nuisance.

  • Comment number 49.

    No sniffling or coughing!
    Watching a bad film (that one's partner chose) is made much, much worse when the sick individual behind snorts, coughs and sniffs bodily secretions back into their nasal cavity on a regular and yet revolting basis, right in your ear. Could we have a quarantine zone?
    Terry Smith Bsc Chemistry, GradDip Business (Marketing)

  • Comment number 50.

    Thanks for all your brilliant comments. David's told me that Simon and Mark will return to the subject on Friday's programme and include some of your suggestions. If I can add one of my own - 'No sex'. A few years ago my wife and I went to see a fairly obscure film, David Gordon Green's Undertow, at our local multiplex (it lasted a week on the smallest screen). We were the only people in the cinema until a pair of frisky teenagers arrived, presumably having deliberately chosen the film they thought no one else would go and see, and swiftly got down to some nooky on the back row. Very distracting. Being British I only asked them to keep the noise down when the girl started talking on her mobile phone a bit later.

  • Comment number 51.

    This should be writ large on all entrances to cinemas

    The Cinema is not a social experience, if you think it is, please turn around now.

    Unfortunately, people think the cinema is a good place to hang out - NO! - the pub/restaurant/lounge after the cinema is the place to hang out and discuss the film/your social life/your undying love for each other etc
    And please, please - if you really need plots explaining or you need to know right now who he/she is and what you've seen them in before, stay at home and wait for the DVD.

    In terms of a code of conduct I think cinemas could learn alot from British campsites:

    1. No noise after dark
    2. No single sex groups
    3. No stag or hen parties
    4. No naked flames
    5. No Barbeques

    Wittertainment Fan Tip
    I have found that people who will not 'get' the Code of Conduct are at the cinema on a Friday or Saturday night - if you want to avoid them, go to the cinema mid-week or during the day at weekends. If may feel like giving in, but stops the wittertainment style ranting and keeps the blood pressure down at a safe level.

  • Comment number 52.

    No hot drinks if you startle easily.

    During Terminator 3 my mum nearly drenched the cinema in hot coffee, when a scene shocked her so much she jumped out of her seat. Luckily the lid stayed on, but even then a few people got spattered.

  • Comment number 53.

    1. No more than two teenagers seated together at any time

    2. No babies - if you are not old enough to enjoy the film, no entry.

    3. Parent not allowed to accompany children unless they have an interest in the film themselves. This way, they will not be encouraged to bring newspapers or MP3 players in to enetertain themselves while the film is on.

    4. No personal items other than medicines, coats, wallets, etc. no electronic items.

    5. No food wrappers. No straws in drinks.

    6. Younger viewers to be seated away from older viewers.

    7. No visits to the toliet during screening. If you cannot hold your bladder for two hours, too bad.

    8. No exit from the screening to buy more food, popcorn, etc. Once the film starts you stay in the seat unless there is a fire or other emergency. More slushies is not an emergency.

    9. No narration or commentary allowed during screening. Watch the film and shut up.

    10. If you kick the seats during screening you agree to have your legs strapped to the chair. Likewise, if you talk during screening, you must wear a muzzle.

  • Comment number 54.

    For the rules to work, there needs to be penalities for their breach.
    I am not in favour of capital punishment in general, but for the use of cellphones in the cinema, I am willing to make an exception. I suggest beheading, with the heads displayed on poles outside the cinema to act as a deterrent.
    I would suggest locking the culprit in a cinema that has Transformers:Rise of the Fallen on endless loop, but the US Bill of Rights forbids cruel and unusual punishment

  • Comment number 55.

    Wittertainment Code of Conduct deja-vù:

    Just a few hours ago, after listening to the Podcast of your programme aired on Friday the 15th., I had the most eerie sense of deja-vu when you started mentioning the cartoons reminding people of not doing stuff at swimming pools, and this later developed into the idea of the Wittertainment Code of Conduct for modern cinemas. I turns out that when I was a little boy, my mother would take me to two local cinemas in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali (of drug cartel fame), where just before the main feature, hand-drawn cartoons would be projected onscreen from a slide projector, in which many of the conducts mentioned in your programme were warned against: no putting your feet close to the front seat (I remember that particular cartoon depicted the man putting his feet ON the front seat, right on the other patron's head), no talking beyond a whisper, no munching loudly and having snacks and drinks fall into your neighbors' laps, and so on. There were not ten of these (as Simon suggested we should have nowadays), but about 5 or 6. Mobile phones were not an issue back then, as this was in the early eighties, so there go about 4 or 5 extra rules taken care of.

    Later in the programme I started having the uncanny sensation that the third city in Colombia was perhaps in these matters more civilized thirty years ago than what I hear you complaining of XXIst century Britain: I remember the snack bars at these cinemas, for example, sold peanuts (certainly not the loudest snack when it comes to chewing) inside Manila paper cones (certainly not the noisiest packing to unpack), thus circumventing the noisy eating problem.

    But I was woken up from my sweet reminiscences thinking about the current state of affairs here in Colombia: Tatcherism travels far (it is know as "neo-liberalism" here), and all these traits of civilization, being as they are unprofitable, have been duly removed: the educating cartoons on slides that used to be projected before the movie have been replaced by very loud ads reminding people to go an buy bucketloads of popcorn and fizzy drinks before the trailers start, the hand-packed peanuts inside paper cones have been replaced by the very noisy metally-plastic bags of the chain products, and everything seems to be in the same sorry state as up there in Britain.

    We seemed to have the upper hand thirty years ago in cinema etiquette here in distant Colombia, but dreaded capitalism has sent that to the dogs, too...

    A nostalgic Dr. Hasler in Medellín, Colombia (of cartel fame)

  • Comment number 56.

    No conversations beginning with: "Ooh, who's that? And what was he in again that we liked?"
    The characters on the screen are professional actors who take on a series of roles in their careers. You should not be surprised to see them appear in a motion picture and then need to reassure yourself that you are familiar with their previous contributions to cinema history, while their latest offering is under way.
    Cinemas are designed for audiences to share experiences but too many people treat them like their living rooms and hold irritating conversations along these lines, regardless of the potential annoyance to people around them.
    These five minute conversations about the identity of a newcomer to the screen frequently end in disappointment for those involved.
    "I didn't it was the bloke who played the bloke with the dodgy tache who hit Matt Damon in the desert. I was just saying that this fellow looks like him. And I liked that bloke in that other film. I guess we'll have to stay for the credits to find out who this new bloke with the gun is. It's going to nag me all day now."

  • Comment number 57.

    These rules should also apply to performances of The Dodge Brothers.
    I was lucky enough to see them at the Concert for Care.

    The person behind was opening the noisiest packet of sweets ever and the person in front was trying to take a picture of Mark on stage whilst drinking beer.

  • Comment number 58.

    No laughing at the Orange cinema adverts - they're not big, they're not funny and they shouldn't be encouraged.

  • Comment number 59.

    My main rule would be for anyone who has the unwelcome habit of falling asleep at some point in any film, no matter what the film is. This is particularly true of midweek viewings. The rule would be to allow the film to be put on pause while said sleeper has a nap, thus avoiding waking up several scenes later a little confused.

  • Comment number 60.

    Teenage girl in front of me during Wall Street kept holding her Blueberry up to eye level and texting. It was like having a torch shone in my eyes. After the 4th time I said do you mind, and she said sorry and stopped. It's time that cinemas display, on the screen, a clear list of things not to do so that these dullards get the message before the film starts, and not have to rely on their customers to police the auditorium.

  • Comment number 61.

    Don't go to the cinema if you can't tell the difference between the cinema and your living room (this ISN'T a private space!).

  • Comment number 62.

    No entry to the cinema if you have a cough or a cold - not only does your coughing and sniffling distract people from the film, but (as I'm sure Howard Hughes would've agreed) you're also spreading your germs onto all those around you.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ushers (f your lucky) should be equipped with a small torch NOT the screen of a mobile phone!

  • Comment number 64.

    No middle aged adults grunting and complaining about teenagers, some us like to sit in cinemas and enjoy silence as well. Stop stereotyping and get a life.

  • Comment number 65.

    I believe that most of these problems can be solved quite easily. One theory of personality is that the brain stimulation baseline for extroverts is set higher than introverts. Usually under-stimulated, extroverts constantly seek stimulation to get their neuro-chemicals up to optimal level (hence why they are party animals and have attention difficulties when stimulation levels are low, i.e., in a cinema, with the lights off, no talking, and when little action is happening on the screen). In said situations, extroverts are likely to adopt their normal strategies to assist concentration by chatting, texting, eating, fidgeting etc. Conversely introverts demand silence etc. because their brain chemistry is normally at baseline and any extraneous stimulation detrimentally affects their attention levels. Consequently most of these problems can be solved by having introvert/extrovert only screenings.

  • Comment number 66.

    It seems Mr Mayo and the Good Doctor have really struck a chord with this topic. As a fervent cinema goer there's nothing that sets my teeth on edge quite like the antisocial background noise of a fidgeting, grazing, canoodling and/or wittering cinema audience.
    To see the wealth of comments echoing what I have imagined over the years were simply my own over-sensitive gripes just feels like an enveloping hug of support. I'm not alone!!
    It just remains for me to recount my own worst exerience during which one particular miscreant had been sent from Room 101 to launch a personal crusade against my viewing pleasure and launch a full-scale assault on my senses too. The impatient fidgeting I have come to expect; likewise the eating and belching. But what struck me was that this chap was dressed in full football kit having presumably come 'fresh' from a Sunday league match. So into the usual mix was added the waft of bodily odours, mud and post-match pints. Nice that he'd had time to sink a few drinks but not to have a shower.
    So, please add personal hygeine and cleanliness to the list. May I suggest that not having grass stains on your exposed knees be the minimum required standard for entry.

  • Comment number 67.

    I have always wanted cinemas to employ more stringent rules regarding the conduct of some of their less than socially aware customers. I agree wholeheartedly with the vast majority of the comments on this site (particularly the ones addressing inane wittering, munching and mobile phone use).
    However, like all campaigns, it is not just the content that is important, but the method of delivery. Rather than just posting rules on a sign, that can all to easily be ignored, the BBFC should employ an actor to point out a selection of the afore mentioned rules in the form of a short public information film. My actor of choice would be Alan Ford (aka the merciless, bespectacled East End gangster 'Brick Top' from Snatch).
    I would have him sneer and spit the selected rules at the audience (preferably in character) whilst tapping a leather kosh in the palm of his hand or threateningly gripping two jumper cables attached to a large car battery. If this does not have the desired effect on the behaviourally challenged members of the audience, then I don't know what will. Also, for 18 cert films, Alan could adorn his monolgue with the more 'colourful' turns of phrase we are accustomed to him uttering in some of his films.

  • Comment number 68.

    I've been thinking about the cover to the Good Dr K's (very excellent) memoir, It's only a Movie!
    In the photo Dr K appears to breaking a few of the more obvious choices for rules in the Wittertainment Code of Conduct.
    I notice that he managed to create a square of free seating around himself (nothing wrong with that) totally in keeping with his preferred seating arrangement!
    However he does appear to be holding in one hand, a skip sized box of the noisiest cinema snack known to man and in the other, a rather impractical and extremely noisy piece of tree felling equipment. The popcorn does in fact break two possible rule choices, by bringing in the popcorn you are breaking the no food code and by eating it you are probably breaking an acceptable noise level code! The chainsaw could easily come under the "no mobile devices" rule and should have been left at the door or preferably at home in the garden shed. Shame on you Dr K! ;D

  • Comment number 69.

    Judging by the reaction the following two rules apply in an all night showing of War and Peace:-
    1. Do not bring in a gift wrapped birthday present which turns out to be an alarm clock set to go off at 4.00 am. At least it was a cinematically correct alarm clock - a brass one with two bells on the top.
    2. Eating - particularly not breakfast in the third interval at 5.00 am - corn flakes, milk, sugar, bread, butter and marmalade, dished up in china bowls/plates with proper cutlery.

    High class audience however - we were called "philistines".

  • Comment number 70.

    I fully agree with your quest to rid cinemas of anti-social selfish behaviour. Rather than having a Witter-tainment list of rules I suggest something slightly different. For many years I have wished for a Star Trek type phaser to render miscreants unconscious when they are disrupting my cinematic viewing pleasure. Obviously, this type of device has not yet been invented...but its close cousin has: the taser. My suggestion is to give everyone in a cinema a taser. When someone begins whatever unwanted action an audience member will politely ask them to “STOP DOING THAT”, or “BE QUIET”. If they then carry on the public question ‘Taser?’ is asked by the original complainee to the audience. After a positive ‘yes’ and if the anti-social fool carries on their disruptive behaviour they will be tasered i.e. a three strikes and you are knocked-out procedure.
    The question about a pre-emptive strike by any disruptive element in the audience is a possibility however, as there will be far more supporters of any annoyed audience member this sort of action would be about as sensible as getting involved in a land war in Asia.
    The reason why there is so much disruptive behaviour is that the sort of people who indulge in such bravado and actions know there is nothing that can be done to them apart for clicking of teeth and sighing. By introducing a clear and present threat I am sure such behaviour would stop very quickly.

  • Comment number 71.

    These behaviours make going to the movies less than pleasant:

    1) People who take the armrests on both sides of your seat, and kind of trap you in between them.

    2) People who let their personal belongings slop over into your personal space across the arm rest (overcoats, purses, elbows).

    3) Guys (mostly) who feel like anywhere they sit is their private space and spread their legs out wide & so far apart they take up space across almost 2 seats.

    4) Spitting

    (Items 1, 2, and 3 can be halfway-avoided if you sit on an aisle seat)

    To Simon and Mark - thank you for your always wonderful podcasts! !

  • Comment number 72.


    "3) Guys (mostly) who feel like anywhere they sit is their private space and spread their legs out wide & so far apart they take up space across almost 2 seats."

    Do you think that is how Dr K gets his two emptiy seats either side of him?

    SHould we start calling him Dr 'Legs-Akimbo' Kermode?

  • Comment number 73.

    1. No having a marital dispute that leads to a divorce before the credits roll in front of me

    2. No attempting to form a Nazi government during the quiet bits

    3. After the trailers have finished it is unacceptable to roast a chicken

    4. No pretending that I can't see you. I can and I know what you're up to. Now stop it I'm trying to concentrate on the film.

    5. No carrot cake. Carrot doesn't belong in cake. Its just not right.

  • Comment number 74.

    Forget annoyingly loud children and rude teenagers, I have had many cinema-going experiences where the ELDERLY audiences caused the most aggravation. Most recently was during a screening of RED (which was rubbish by the way). The cinema was filled with patrons of many ages, but the two old ladies sitting to my left were the repeat offenders, chatting throughout the whole film, tittering at unfunny scenes and saying silly things like "That's not very nice" when Bruce Willis is shot at. I hesitated to shout 'Shut Up' at them for fears of cardiac arrest.

  • Comment number 75.

    Stop people using the chair in front of them "which always seems to be close to me" as a footstool to put their feet up on.

  • Comment number 76.

    Thou shalt not enter a film after it has started (okay maybe a couple of minutes) - but ESPECIALLY not 40 minutes after the beginning of Buried - and intense and atmospheric film - arriving in a group, laden down with nachos and ten gallon buckets of coke, take five minutes to discuss your seating arrangements, and then another five minutes to discuss what might or might not have happened before you bothered to come into the theatre (if you're worried about the plot then get there earlier!).
    Actually to be fair, perhaps it's the management of AMC cinemas in Manchester (other transgressing cinema chains are available) who should be chastised for selling them the tickets in the first place.

  • Comment number 77.

    Cut off the legs below the knees of those incredibly cool cats who are so laidback in any environment that they put their manky feet up on the seat in front.

    Also trim the adverts, twenty minutes is too much! Why not just subliminally advertise during the trailers instead?

    Get the writers of that mobile phone company's adverts to jump in the DeLorean and go back to re-learn whatever they knew when their ads were funny instead of eyeball-poppingly irritating.

  • Comment number 78.

    No laughing at adverts you've already watched dozens of time from home on your very own couch that you usually don't even raise a smile at.

  • Comment number 79.

    Why DO people make noises, eat, talk or muck around in the cinema? Haven't they spent well-earned money to watch the film? Why don't they just go and text/eat popcorn/have sex/argue/giggle somewhere else for free?

    Those who have paid their money and really want to see a film expect and deserve to see and hear every second of it. They are the ones the cinema proprietors should encourage. They could pay their staff bonuses for ousting out troublemakers. Maybe then they (the staff) would be less "wussy" about enforcing some rules, as pointed out in post 44 above.

    And my addition to the prolific list above. NO BREATHING in tense, quiet moments.

  • Comment number 80.

    If you are going to eat sweets from a bag made of the rustliest material known to science (which I'd prefer you didn't!), don't try to do it quietly. This might be an admirable attempt to act considerately to your fellow cinema-goers, but it doesn't work. It merely stretches the time of the rustling out as you try to scrabble at the wrapper a bit more each time there's a noisy bit in the film. You then try to stop when the film goes quiet, but the wrapper tries to attain its original shape on its own, slowly and loudly!

    Oh, and @tanhauser (post 33), I agree. My local multi-plex recently went from nice collectable cardboard tickets to horrible, badly torn paper ones.

  • Comment number 81.

    The obvious answer is to have different screenings. One for people and the other for people who don't like people who mistakenly think the cinema is a public place. Carrie just isn't Carrie if someone doesn't shout 'One hundred and Eighty'.

  • Comment number 82.

    Dear Dr K and Mr Mayo,
    Upon listening to your podcast and reading the comments on your page, I have seen that a few of them refer to the behaviour of teenagers, and how we shouldn't be allowed in big groups, or worse banned forever. As one myself and a keen cinema goer, I am aware that what you have said is fairly accurate. However, when me and my boyfriend go to cinema we are as quiet as mice, start to finish. However, much to my annoyance, our friends at the end then express their surprise as to how silent we were. I was not impressed.
    So I know how you feel when teens talk in the cinema, I hate it also, but just to let you know it isn't ALL OF US!
    Holly, in North Yorkshire

  • Comment number 83.

    Some things which bothered me allot when i was in a screening of Wall Street 2 was smug laughter. There was a row of people behind me who kept letting out a second of laughter every time someone said anything. Then the worst thing they did was to make the loudest ooooo noise of recodnition i have ever heard, when Charlie Sheen made an apearence as if to let the whole screening room know they had seen the first Wall Street. I dont care if you have seen the first one and there is nothing funny or ironic about someone walking down a street although Shia Lablagh did look weird in a suit.

    Dont laugh if its not funny!

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree with the comments that the vast majority of teenagers and children are well behaved in the pictures, however it is the small minority of teenagers (and adults for that matter) who treat it as an expensive theme park that ruin it for everyone else.

    To that end, my rules are:

    - Phones off
    - No talking, and particularly no 'Who's that? What did they just say?'-type conversations
    - No slurping drinks
    - No loud or smelly food (if you know you can't eat popcorn quietly, just buy the sweets)
    - Tall people at the back (although I say that as someone who's only 5'2")
    - No TV adverts. I don't mind trailers or those silent one-frame local business adverts before the film starts, but I resent sitting through 20 minutes of adverts I could watch on telly and not have paid £6 plus transport for the privilege
    - No kicking the seats
    - No putting your feet on top of the seat in front of you
    - No small children in a non-parents and children screening, and I'm not even sure about those anyway, but that's by the by. Based on my three year old nephew toddlers simply don't have the attention span for most ninety minute films
    - Except for emergencies, no-one allowed in after the trailers start, but you can come in during the adverts before they're outlawed, and no leaving before the credits finish (unless there are medical reasons, or it's a horror film and you scare easily, in which case please sit on the aisle seat)

  • Comment number 85.

    Cheers Kevin (post 80) - It's good to know that there are other Wittertainment listeners with cinema ticket OCD!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    I also collect tickets and have a hole whole host of stupid paper tickets from cineworld. I am greatful to my local indie cinema who give out large card tickets.

  • Comment number 87.

    Rule: No breaking wind.

    We went to see The Kids Are All Right tonight. We loved it, but our enjoyment was a little spoiled by the gentlemen sat two (empty) seats to my left who farted continually through the full 110 minutes of the film.

    Charming it was not.

  • Comment number 88.

    Giggleing teenage girls are NOT aloud in groups of more than two, and must be sat in the furthest possible seat from other pairs of giggleing teenage girls. (Is it too much to ask for them to be gagged?????).

  • Comment number 89.

    No sex or heavy petting. Late night showings of Reservoir Dogs at Withington Cinema (Manchester) always used to contain couples getting rather frisky in the dark corners of the theatre. Nothing worse than some bumping and grinding to put you off the film.

  • Comment number 90.

    No standing up at the end of a film and shouting:
    a) "This is the death of narrative cinema"
    b) "That brings back memories" or
    c) "Everyone involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves"
    .....unless it is, it does, or they should be.

  • Comment number 91.

    No tall hairstyles please. Quiffs and spikes should be flattened for the duration of the film.

  • Comment number 92.

    No ducking out of the way when your partner blows a straw at you, and allowing it to hit a single man watching Love Actually next to you.

  • Comment number 93.

    No food or drink of any kind, live or dead.
    No waving or bodily movements extraneous to focal area of seating arrangement.
    No sounds that can be construed as invasive of the film makers work.
    No phones or other objects that can be utilized outside the context of the film ie: all.
    No animals, as they do not watch films, i have read studies.
    No deployment of smells.
    No seat wetness.
    No permitting others, to do same.

    Adherence to the simple tenets above are nearly impossible for humans. As it is this is why i do not go to cinemas in the uk.

  • Comment number 94.

    1. Thou shallt love thy neighbour as thy would love thyself (covers 99% of all other rules)
    2. If thine eye or ear be offended, leave (My wife and I sat through 'The Piano' and after both agreed that we would never be so foolish again)
    3. Thou shallt not sing, dance or air drum along to the Pearl and Dean music (I know its wrong but it feels so right).

  • Comment number 95.

    We've all experienced the same problems at the local cinema but it does seem to be getting worse in today's technological age. Just today I was annoyed by a person across the aisle in a screening of HP7a with the noisiest, largest bag of chips/crisps that just wouldn't stop. A young girl who was determined to keep texting who knows what, to one of her friends.

    Not only that, the woman behind me kept digging her knees into the seat every time she moved (roughly every five minutes). But that's what you get with a large cinema with cheap priced tickets ($6 each session).

    My biggest bugbear is people coming into a cinema after the movie has started. I agree with those who have already mentioned this. They shouldn't be allowed in after the movie has started and disrupt audience members.

    There should be a "gold class" cinema for everyone in the world. I adore it. Sure it's expensive, nearly $50, but there are only 40 seats in the cinema, you get your own plush recliner and the only hushed talking is the serving staff bringing you food and drinks (the highest quality and price, of course) and the people that are willing to pay the money expect the best behaviour of everyone else.

    For me, it's the way to go. Smaller cinemas and higher prices will ensure only those who are willing to pay for it, get to see the movie.

  • Comment number 96.

    I see someone was shot in Riga for eating popcorn too loudly https://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/feb/21/man-shot-latvian-cinema-popcorn. I'm not suggesting that this bit of house-of-cine rage had anything to do with the campaign to instil some civility into the habits of moviegoers, but there is a tendency to regard the picture house as some sort of holy building where hushed decorum must be observed. By all means heap scorn on chattering and disturbance (and the discharge of firearms, for that matter. Although I note the shooter in this case waited for the film to end) but complaints about crunchy food, sweet wrappers and so on is going beyond anal.


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