How one movie theater dealt with a customer texting during film

Paula Duffy's picture

The no-texting policy at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, TX is one of zero-tolerance for customers who ignore it.

In what can only be called justice for customers who abide by the rules, the movie theater has taken a profane, angry phone message left by an offending movie goer and turned it into a cautionary video for everyone's edification.

Alamo Drafthouse makes customers leave the theater without a refund if they have the audacity to use their mobile phones after a film has begun. Most, if not all big theater chains ask movie patrons to refrain from using cellphones for any purpose, but without the same penalty.

Typically, the message of "Please turn off all cellphones" is displayed in text on the theater screen, after all new movie promos and advertisements are finished. It usually is accompanied by a plea for silence during the film. The Alamo Drafthouse chain does more than ask or even insist that no phones be activated. They clearly state that those who ignore the warning will be asked to leave the theater.

Before anyone is left with the impression that the theater is a no-fun zone, please be advised that the Alamo Drafthouse chain serves burgers and beer for paying customers who are old enough to consume alcohol, under the prevailing laws of the states in which they have cinemas. Their website promotes it.

"The Alamo Drafthouse has been one of America's favorite cinema-eateries since the mid-1990s, when Tim and Karrie League first opened their single screen venue and offered Austin movie-goers the chance to drink a beer and eat a burger with their movie."

After enforcing their policy against phone usage with one female patron, the Austin location received a rambling message from her that not only is full of profanity, but offers an excuse for her phone being on.

According to her, it was too dark for her to see when she got into the screening room, which forced her to turn her phone on and use the light from its screen to find a seat. She claims that the sound was turned off so there was no possibility of anyone being disturbed by the noise of the phone ringing.

The patron adds that she didn't know about their "stupid" policy, presumably because she entered after the lights were dimmed and the warning had already been shown to the audience.

Not only is the theater not offering her return of the money paid for her ticket or a free pass for the next time she wants to see a movie at their location, they are using her own voice and the text of her voice message as a cautionary tale.

It is an astounding strategy that seems to be well received by many movie fans who watch and listen as their fellow audience members ignore the warning to shut their phones down.

Plastered at the top of the theater's blog on their website, is a short film under the title, "She Texted. We Kicked Her Out." Originally reported by Boingboing.com, the story has become a lesson about the consequences of selfishness and bad behavior. It may begin a trend among other theater chains who couldn't be blamed if they wanted to adopt the "kicked her out" policy.

Right now, the choices for someone who has to suffer through another person's rule breaking behavior is to try and ignore it, or get up and leave the screening room to inform the location manager, all the while missing part of the film they paid to see. Neither way is pleasant.

There has been no legal action taken to remove the video from the theater's website as of this writing. Perhaps even litigious attorneys see the wisdom in Alamo Drafthouse's decision.

The video can be viewed here. WARNING, it is filled with profanity.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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