Etiquette isn’t as widely emphasized as it was in years past. It’s still just as important, but since it’s not constantly reinforced, it’s easy to forget what’s considered polite, especially when certain behaviors have become normal. For example, it used to be considered proper etiquette to remove your hat before entering a building, but today, it’s normal for people to wear all types of hats indoors.

When going to the movies, you don’t have to take your hat off to be polite, but certain behaviors and actions will keep the experience positive for everyone.

1. Don’t use your phone at all when the lights go out

Once the lights go out, it’s time to turn your phone off and tuck it away in your pocket. It’s not good enough to put it on silent because it’s not just the noise that disrupts others – it’s also the light from the screen.

If you’re used to watching movies at home on your television and phone at the same time, this might take some effort to remember. Movie theaters aren’t like concerts where the artists don’t mind if you film them. There are rules to follow and other patrons to respect.

There are consequences for using your phone in a movie theater. Although it’s not illegal, and you can’t be arrested or fined for filming in a theater, it will get you kicked out and potentially banned. Another potential is that you might drop your phone into the next aisle over and be unable to retrieve it immediately. If you have a strong phone case, you won’t need to worry about someone stepping on your phone, but if not, you could be out of luck.

2. Get your seats early

A genius once said that if you’re not early, you’re late. Take this advice to heart and show up to the theater early enough to get your seats before there’s a crowd. It will be easier for you and everyone else. Nobody likes to be interrupted by people who enter a movie late and make noise trying to find a seat. It’s even worse when a theater is packed.

3. Get a babysitter for loud children

With the exception of a children’s movie, where kids are going to be loud anyway, get a babysitter if your kids can’t sit through a whole adult movie in silence. It’s understandable if you can’t get a sitter, but disrupting the entire theater is rude. Consider that everyone else has paid a lot of money for their tickets and snacks, expecting to enjoy the movie. If your child ruins it for them, they’re going to be mad at you. Some bold patrons may even contact an usher to have you removed from the theater.

4. Sit near an aisle if you have children

If you bring your kids to a movie, sit close to the aisle so you can escort them to the bathroom as needed without disrupting an entire row of patrons. If your kids are old enough to take themselves to the restroom, it’s still a good idea to sit next to an aisle to limit disruptions.

5. Practice movie theater etiquette at home

Another tip if you have kids is to practice movie theater etiquette at home before going to the theater. If you can do this the night before you see a movie, it will be fresh in their minds. Have your kids practice sitting in their own seat, sitting still, staying quiet, not roughhousing with each other, and getting up silently to use the restroom. Giving them a practice run before seeing a movie in a theater will help them get better at behaving appropriately.

6. Never take a seat that isn’t yours

When a theater has assigned seating, respect that and only sit in your assigned seat. Never take an empty seat, assuming that it won’t get filled. All it takes is a few people to sit in someone else’s seat to cause a cascade of people sitting in the wrong seat, which becomes impossible for the ushers to fix in time for the movie.

Sometimes people intentionally buy tickets for seats they want to remain empty for their own comfort, so just because you don’t see a person in a seat doesn’t mean it’s up for grabs.

Etiquette makes everyone’s experience better

The point of going to see a movie is to enjoy the show, so keep that in mind the next time you get tickets to the movie theater. Try to be as polite as possible and think of the other patrons to make the experience enjoyable for all.


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