Saturday, August 6, 2011

"The Buffer" and Other Notes on Cinema Etiquette

***These are not real. It's just what I myself (and my friends and family) go by.

For any social situation involving other people there are always those unspoken "rules" or personal etiquette guidelines we should follow, out of respect for everyone else around us.
This includes how we behave when we go through the community experience of seeing a film in a public theatre.

I've never really had a problem with other people while watching a movie, because I'm pretty easy-going when it comes to that stuff, but the other day, I had a... let's say "confused" moment when someone broke the one rule my sister and I always go by. And that rule is known as "The Buffer".

The Buffer:
A two seat gap (one if fine, two is better) you leave empty between you/your viewing party and another person/their viewing party when there are other ample seats to be filled around you and throughout the theatre.

You know what I mean? I was going to see Friends with Benefits with my sister and her friend, and the theatre was almost empty, --just a couple of small groups-- and this one couple decided to plop down right next to me right off the bat, even though there were countless seats not even near me!

Okay okay, so it's not that big of a deal and I don't mind sitting next to other people. In fact, it happens a lot, I was just so confused as to why out of all the seats, the one directly beside me looked the most appealing? Especially since the two people seemed incredibly confused by some of my laughing moments that they "didn't get" and other reactions while watching it. To which I thought, "Hey, you chose to sit next to me, remember?"

To be honest, the breach of The Buffer isn't that bad. It's just kind of strange when a completely random person really wants to sit beside you when the rest of the theatre is empty.

The thing with The Buffer, too, is that sometimes, a theatre gets full. Well okay, so if a theatre is fuller, you can sit right next to someone. That is perfectly fine. If you leave a buffer and the theatre starts to fill up, go ahead and scooch over to make room, but just leave that buffer there initially out of courtesy. And for goodness sake, when you make a buffer, always leave at least 2 spaces. Why? Because then, if the theatre fills and couple comes looking for seats, well they will fit very nicely in between you and not have to make others scooch or split up or anything. I mean, I know sometimes people go to movies alone, but it's usually a group thing.

And that, my friends, is what the usage of The Buffer is all about.

Here are a couple of other "Notes on Cinema Etiquette" as defined by myself and my sister.
(And you better listen to us, because we are well-seasoned film viewers, at both cineplexes, and smaller theaters).


- I firmly believe that in those silent couple of seconds after a preview ends, you are allowed to say one quick line regarding whatever you feel about that you just saw. For example, "No. No no. Hell no. Not today." Or "I think Adrian Brody is way better than this." Or "I think I've seen this movie before... Just... A different Holiday." (*Cough* New Year's Eve* Cough*)

Verbal Reactions to Film:

Seeing a movie at a theatre in public turns it into a community experience. I don't see why we can't have certain reactions to things we see on screen. I mean, we go to a scary movie to be scared with others, or see something funny to laugh along with the group when it's in theaters, right? Not to just stifle ourselves like we might at home. Anyways...

- Laughing when you aren't necessarily supposed to because you find something humorous unintentionally is totally fine. Sure, people might stare or be confused, but it makes for a great time! Just hold off if it's like a really really serious thing you are laughing at, like a kid's father dying or cancer or genocide, or anything like that. Seriously, what kind of a sick person are you?

- The occasional "What?!" or gasp, or other exclamation is fine. Actually it's kind of funny when people do that. Though I have to be honest and say it's usually me who is the culprit.

- Incessant talking is just a no-brainer. Don't do it. However, the odd, strategically placed line about the actors, plot, action is okay. See, this way it's not constant talking, though you are able to get the most important questions out there or things said before you forget about them. Just be careful dow much you do it, since I always abuse this one.

- Crying is one of those things that sometimes happens during a movie, and it can't really be helped. When a young child cries, I let it slide, because they don't know any better, but for adults, crying makes people uncomfortable. But like, I said, sometimes it can't be helped! For crying, I say it's okay to do so in a theater, but only if you are very very quit about it. Don't go sobbing away or loudly sniveling, bothering everyone else around you. Let those tears run down your face and quietly wipe them away with a kleenex, or press your thumbs to your tear ducts to hold it, or blink back the welling in your eyes, I really don't care! Just don't make any noise. That way, only the people you came with are likely to notice your tears, and they shouldn't be too weirded out by it, right?


- If you smuggle in a soda can (come on, everyone does it) or buy a soda in a bottle, open it up before the film starts or during previews. Everyone hates a random can crack in the middle.

- Skittles and other candies roll. Just be careful, and catch them in your crotch if you can.

- Garbage goes in the cup-holders or under your seat, on in front. Nobody wants to step in that.

- Don't get mad at the person that is sliding past you to work their way to the washroom. They are just as uncomfortable as you are, and really don't want to be bothering you, but they have to. As a person who holds it every time, that can get painful if you have a tiny bladder.


- It's kind of a given to put your phone on silent,and not talk on it. Seriously, this isn't a phone booth. However, I have a little thing about texting. If you are in the back 2 rows or so, you can have a freebie of 2 texts during the film. Why only the back rows? Because little to nobody can see your phone's light back there, whereas in the front, you see something shining and your eye is directly drawn to it, like a crow and a shiny thing. Just don't, if you are closer than the back 3 rows.

I feel like there was more but that also seems like a lot for now.
With that, I give you my random notes on Cinema Etiquette! What do you think on the subject? Anything that really annoys you in a movie or you would add to the list?

P.S: Please note my choice of photos giving props to the Edmonton Princess Theatre and (sadly, just closed) Garneau Theatre. I hear it's turning into Metro city now though? I'm not sure...


  1. Garneau is closing?! Le sad!!!

  2. Yeah, they didn't renew their lease or something like that! Very le sad.
    But I'm pretty sure they are being bought up by Metro City theatres, so we will just have to keep our eyes peeled and see what happens...