Master Movie Theatre Etiquette in Time for TIFF

September in Toronto means two things for me: back to school and time for TIFF! TIFF, also known as the Toronto International Film Festival, is a fabulous event full of celebrity watching, amazing energy and, most importantly, incredible films. In order to watch those films, that means we need to head into the movie theatre. Movie theatres to me are wonderful, magical places that allow you to immerse yourself in imagination — so there’s nothing worse than being jolted out of that special state by a poorly behaved movie-goer.

Here are my top five tips for how to behave at the movie theatre.

1. Be Early!
Festival movies are notoriously busy, often with long lines and challenging parking. If you plan to arrive early you can take in the whole experience and perhaps even sight a celebrity but most importantly you can take your seat and get organized without disturbing other movie-goers who are there to enjoy the film.

2. Eat carefully.
If I had it my way, food would not be allowed in movie theatres — I really don’t understand why someone needs to be fed while they are sitting still. However, popcorn and soda are traditional movie theatre food, so for those that do enjoy eating in the theatre, please be mindful of the sounds you make while eating. Try not to crinkle or make too much noise that could be a distraction for other patrons trying to enjoy the film. Also, be mindful of your food (e.g. try not to spill particularly sticky sodas, and wipe them up as best as you can if you do).

3. Stay still.
I know it’s hard, but try to stay still for the entire film. Go to the bathroom before the movie starts, complete any necessary calls or emails and then try to stay in place. Please don’t be the person who remembers they are desperately thirsty 45 minutes into the film, and who also happens to be sitting in the centre seat in the centre of the theatre — this distracts everyone’s focus as the person tries to shimmy down their row on the way out and then back in.

4. No talking!
No matter what fabulous idea you feel you need to share or comment you want to make about the film, please, please, please keep it to yourself until the film is complete. There’s nothing more distracting then being immersed in the plot of a powerful film than to be distracted by someone chatting about their to-do list.

5. Cellphones OFF please.
That’s right, I said off. No vibrate, no silent, no checking email or tweeting throughout the film. You might ask, How can I be disconnected for a whole two or three 3 hours? Think about it as a mini-vacation you are giving yourself. The exception to this is if you are in some kind of emergency role and need to be available 24/7. In that very unusual case, please try and take the least distracting seat, preferably in the back and on an aisle

The huge benefit of following these tips and being marvelously well-mannered at the movies is that you’ll find that you will get so much more out of the entire movie-going experience and the film itself.

As the great Roger Ebert said, “I’ll see you at the movies!”


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About Lisa Orr