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Movie Theater Texter Gets The Boot And A Starring Role

Alamo Drafthouse, a local chain of dine-and-screen movie theaters in Austin, Texas, has long waged a war against impolite moviegoers. And the latest customer to object to their firm rules against talking and texting during an evening out has become the unwitting star of a Public Service Announcement released by the company on Monday.

According to Tim League, the Drafthouse’s founder, the woman in question was warned twice about texting during a screening, and then, in accordance with company policy, was escorted out without a refund. “I don’t think people realize that it is distracting,” League told The Lookout. “It seems like nothing, but if you spend as much time as I do at the movies, you realize the entire theater sees it and it pulls you out of the movie experience. It’s every bit as intrusive as talking.”

However, the determined texter was not about to let the matter rest. She called up the Alamo Drafthouse and left a profanity-laced (and perhaps slightly inebriated) message decrying the theater’s policies. “Yeah, I was wondering if you guys actually enjoy treating your customers like a pieces of sh*t,” she opened, “Because that’s how I felt when I went to the Alamo Drafthouse!”

“So excuse me for using my phone, in USA magnited States of America” she raged, “where yer-you are free to text in a the-a-ter!”

But the theater (and its future patrons) are getting the last laugh. The Drafthouse took audio of the woman’s voicemail, transcribed it, and turned it into an in-house preview that warns theatergoers against cell phone use during movies. Given the former patron’s colorful language, they’ll only be screening it before R-rated films. We’ve embedded a clean version of the PSA below, with objectionable language beeped out:
To read the rest of the news article, click HERE.

Did you all catch the texter’s definition of polite behavior?  Being polite means letting her get away with selfishly annoying the bejeebers out of her fellow moviegoers as she defies movie theater rules and good courtesy for others.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • FLS June 9, 2011, 6:53 am

    I wish every the-a-ter on the planet would do this.

  • Quiea June 9, 2011, 7:02 am

    This seriously made my day. I wish other theatre’s had this much of a spine!

    Go Alamo Drafthouse! 😀

  • coralreef June 9, 2011, 7:03 am

    Theater owner for the WIN! As many others, when I pay to see a movie, I don’t care to hear about anyone’s love life (or lack of), their work troubles or anything else. I don’t want to be distracted by electronic gadgets. Humanity lived without them for millenias, you can do without for a couple of hours.

  • Aje June 9, 2011, 7:06 am

    I HATE when people text during movies. I was chaperoning a movie with the kids at my church and two girls were using their cell phones. I leaned over and asked, “WHAT are you DOING?” maybe the tone of my voice wasn’t enough. They were like, “Huh?” To which I said, “Remember when the movie told us to turn our phones off?” Would you believe it, these girls refused? I told them at the end that I would not take them to the movies again unless I collected their phones before we got in the theater.
    Guess what? Those girls stopped coming to youth group. They turned an issue which should have been small and inconsequential into a huge deal. They told the pastor that I was too mean. That’s not how Christians should act. Whenever they see me in the store in our neighborhood they refuse to talk to me and turn away.
    The pastor said it was a shame but these girls were trying to punish the church for not following common courtesy and that it was no fault of mine. Nice man. 🙂

  • Juanita Ecker June 9, 2011, 7:13 am

    This post hits the nail on the head! It is so frustrating to have people using their cell phones in a theater. I am proud of this facility for sticking to its rules!

    I also find it interesting this girl thinks being “polite” means allowing her to do what she pleases and not worry about all the other customers. I am happy to see they used this situation to point out proper movie etiquette.

    Thanks for the post!

    Juanita Ecker

  • Chrysla June 9, 2011, 7:45 am

    This should have been a “Feel Good Friday!” It made me feel very good indeed. I guess it’s impolite to gloat – but I can’t help it. It just feels so good to know that some businesses will back up their policies. I think it is wonderful that they have turned the tables on her. I hate it when people use their phones in the theater. Sound on or not, that light is VERY distracting. By the way, if you wait a few minutes in a dark theater at the entrance after returning from the lobby, bathroom, etc… a magical thing happens – YOUR EYES ADJUST TO THE DARK!!!!!!!! You can actually find your way back to your seat without difficulty.

    Her use of language is amazing! I consider myself to have an excellent command of the English language but I will now have to incorporate the words “anint” and “magnited” into my lexicon. Very impressive!

  • Orwellian June 9, 2011, 7:50 am

    I’ve been told that there’s a special hell for those that talk at the theater. Guess this is it. At least she’s now in show business.

  • Chocobo June 9, 2011, 7:57 am

    FINALLY. The Revenge of the Company! It’s about time.

  • J's Mama June 9, 2011, 8:03 am

    Well good for the theater, for not letting one obnoxious person walk all over a policy. I think too many times, companies believe in the customer is always right. Good for them, having the last laugh!

  • madame-mim June 9, 2011, 8:09 am

    There’s definitely a generation gap when it comes to perceptions of appropriate cell phone behavior. I teach college, and although I’m only about 10 years older than my students I constantly have to spell out for them how rude and disruptive it is to text in class. Regardless of how discreet you think you’re being about it (which this movie-goer obviously wasn’t), or how confident you are that you can multi-task, texting in many social settings sends the message that you have more important things to focus on and more important people to consider than those right in front of you. Sometimes this is true, so it seems only right to unburden the movie patrons/college students/employees/etc. in question of having to divide their attention by dismissing them right away.

  • Xtina June 9, 2011, 8:16 am

    This is so funny–I’d read this in an online newspaper yesterday and was going to submit it–someone beat me to it.

    This reminds me of the lady that was featured here recently who got kicked off the quiet car of the train for talking on her cell non-stop. Apparently, there has been a strong push in recent times by residents of the planet Booron to infiltrate polite society–the weapon of choice seems to be cell phones. The use of cell phones really brings out the worst in people and they have no scruples whatsoever about their feelings of entitlement to use it wherever, whenever, and as loudly (or in this case, brightly) as they want.

    I applaud the theater for giving her the boot, and then exposing her for the trash-talking jerk she obviously is. Never ceases to amaze me how some people’s worlds are so self-centered that they feel they are above rules and common courtesy–yet I’m sure if someone had been bothering HER, she would have been the first to lead the charge against management disciplining that person.

  • Twik June 9, 2011, 8:19 am

    That’s priceless! It reminds me of Acts of Gord – “I’m never coming back to this store again!” “And we thank you for that.”

  • Skoffin June 9, 2011, 8:23 am

    If I lived in the area where this Theatre chain is you bet they’d become my theatre of choice!

    I stopped going to movies because of all the inconsiderate patrons and cinemas that would not do anything about it. Glad someone has the back of considerate customers.

    I hate the argument that ‘I’m not talking so it can’t bother you!’ in regards to texting; actually, the light of the phone will be shining into the eyes of those around you. Particularly if you hold the phone close to your own face to see the buttons you’ll be shining the light directly into the face of whomever is directly behind. Watch the movie of get out of the cinema. arrrgh!

  • Victoria June 9, 2011, 8:27 am

    Living in Austin and frequenting the Alamo Drafthouse almost exclusively (beer & pizza for the same price as crappy popcorn and soda at normal theaters? Yeah, I’ll be there) I can assure you she was warned more than twice. Before every showing there is a PSA that announces their policy – this video is now the current PSA – and there are signs in the lobby.

    It isn’t that she didn’t know she couldn’t text in the theater, it is that she didn’t believe they enforced their incredibly well posted rules. Maybe this will encourage people in other theaters not to talk/text but for now, I’ll continue spending all my movie money at the Drafthouse.

  • Andi June 9, 2011, 8:30 am

    I live in Austin and the Draft House is my favorite place to see movies because of policies like this a d thier age rules in the evening. I’ve frequent 3 different locations regularly and have never seen employees treat a patron unprofessionally. Yay Draft House!!

  • essie June 9, 2011, 8:33 am

    Dang. Does the theater sell annual passes? I want one, if they do…

  • Pursy June 9, 2011, 8:43 am

    Totally unfair that all the other theaters in Austin politely let her text thereby misleading her into thinking that she could do so in this establishment. Clearly, she was not at any fault whatsoever. 🙂

  • Lizajane June 9, 2011, 8:49 am

    I want to go to the Alamo Drafthouse! I would crack up if I saw this as a pre-movie message and probably start a round of applause. I won’t be surprised, though, if this “ettiquette maven” decides to file suit for use of her voice and “intellectual property.”

    Go Alamo Drafthouse!

  • Kitty Lizard June 9, 2011, 8:51 am

    What an absolutely charming person. I would love to have the misfortune of sitting next to her in (in her words) a the-a-ter. This is why I don’t go to movie theaters anymore.


  • lkb June 9, 2011, 9:05 am

    Okay, the texter/caller was wrong to text during the show and in using profanity in her complaint call.
    Yes, the theater did right in throwing her out and creating the PSA around the call.


    What about the texter/caller’s claim that she was using her phone to get to her seat? I’ve been in theaters that were wicked dark. I can see where using a discretely aimed phone would be a help. (Granted, she was probably not aiming it well, but I think she has a valid point.)

    Also, in my opinion, I don’t think the theater helped their case much in using vulgarities/obscenities (i.e. “p—“) in the PSA. Couldn’t management have taken the high road and edited words like that out of its portion of the message?

  • Saskia June 9, 2011, 9:21 am

    @lkb While profanity in most cases makes the speaker/writer seem ignorant, in this case it is part of the “public shaming.” You want to text during the movie? Okay, just know that the entire theatre will have this script of a woman clearly high on self-importance and low on etiquette running through their heads when they hear those clicks and see that irritating light.
    Profanity has a place and can actually be used to highlight, not destroy, the meaning of the speech/text. Catcher in the Rye, anyone?

  • Mike Johnson June 9, 2011, 9:23 am

    Sorry IKB but people have been finding their way to their seats in theaters for about a hundred years now without a cell phone and we have all heard this kind of language and worse since we were in kindergarten. Don’t necessarily want to hear it but it did say that it was bleeped for all but R rated movies which will have all of the above and worse in the film. This lady was warned twice and still found a way to excuse her actions.

  • Lizajane June 9, 2011, 9:28 am


    While it’s possible, I seriously doubt that this person was only using her phone as a flashlight to get to her seat. It sounds like a juicy rationalization to me. A previous poster who frequents Alamo Drafthouse assures us that the woman was almost certainly warned more than once.

  • vanessaga June 9, 2011, 9:30 am

    @IKB she says she was using the phone then repeatedly says she didnt know she couldn’t text. So she had to text to get to her seat? And I disagree. She behaved badly and she deserves to be shown publically in the light in which she placed herself.

  • tinytx June 9, 2011, 9:56 am

    @IKB, Alamo Drafthouse regular here. Although their theaters are dark, they have very subtle lighting so the waitstaff can see that a customer has an order (you write your order on a slip of paper that you prop upright in front of you), walk over there safely, read your order, then return with your food/beer and get it to the right seat. Not to mention later bringing your check. Therefore, although the theater is dark, it’s actually very easy to find your way around. You don’t have to wait nearly as long to adjust to the low light as you do in a regular theater.
    In her drunken rant, she was using lighting as an excuse as to why she would have her phone lit. Then she ruins that excuse by saying she texts all the time and no one has a problem with it.

    Also, she was warned. Their “don’t talk or we’ll toss you” PSAs are not subtle. This policy, along with not allowing small children after a certain hour, are part of why I like going to this theater (I do have a baby and no, I don’t take her to regular showings…Alamo has “baby day” showings for this very reason)

  • livvy June 9, 2011, 10:01 am

    Even if her story about using the phone as a flashlight were true, (which I doubt, since she confesses to regularly texting in movie the-a-ters all over Austin) I’d argue that it would STILL be a faux pas….I’m not sure how the Alamo Drafthouse works, as far as seating / dimming the lights, but it’s definitely a pet peeve of mine when people arrive to a movie so late that they have to fumble around in the dark to find seats. My annoyance goes up exponentially based on how late they arrive, how large their group is, and how loud and/or unapologetic they may be. Ultimate sin is when they come in after the movie has started with a huge group, and they ask me to move to accomodate them.

  • Jillybean June 9, 2011, 10:03 am

    I saw this story last night and immediately thought of this site. It reminds me of the Hugh Jackman cell phone incident.

  • JennJenn68 June 9, 2011, 10:06 am

    Oh, dear heavens, how I WISH we had such enforcement at our local (Canadian) movie theatres! We do have the V.I.P. cinemas which are restricted to those 19+ (no exceptions–they’re licensed) but that only gets rid of the tittering teenage trolls (hey–alliteration!) and the demented and incredibly rude children; it does nothing about the entitled it’s-all-about-MY-needs “adults” who must always be twiddling with their phones. (On a side note: In the Globe & Mail the other week a columnist referred to this behaviour as “monkeys m——-ting” and I have not been able to get that phrase out of my mind–it’s so apropos these days!!) I don’t go to the movies anymore. Period. Nothing about the experience is worth the obnoxious behaviour of the other patrons–or the fifteen minutes of commercials that one is forced to endure. (I’m not talking about movie previews. That’s expected at a movie theatre. I’m talking about the endless Toyota/Trident/Coke commercials. With the extortionate prices for admission, that’s simply adding insult to injury.)

  • Yellow Rose June 9, 2011, 10:06 am

    I’m so glad to live in the Magnited States Of America, where there’s at least one movie house I can go to and not be bothered by boorish, disruptive behavior.

  • SHOEGAL June 9, 2011, 10:23 am

    Texting is now a way of life – and it happens everywhere now regardless of rules and restrictions. You can’t even enjoy a dinner out without someone having their nose stuck to their phones. I was having cocktails with a friend and throughout our conversation she carried on another conversation with someone else via her phone. Talk about annoying. It is getting worse. People use their cell phones to stay connected everywhere at every time. It is ridiculous to think we can’t be unavailable for a couple of hours.

  • BeachMum June 9, 2011, 10:33 am

    Can we do the same thing for people who take babies to movies? I have kids, love them, but don’t take them to adult movies.

    We saw Fast Five a few weeks ago. The woman in front of us was texting. She finally stopped and we heard a baby crying. I figured it was from the movie (since the scene was in a neigborhood with very close together houses) but it kept on going. Then I saw that at the end of my aisle, there was a family with two young children. How they got into the theater is beyond me, but the kids cried and whined through the entire movie.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people feel that their rights override mine.

  • Ashley June 9, 2011, 10:42 am

    I saw this earlier in the week and shared it on Facebook. Everyone was telling me it was the best thing they saw all day, lol. I can’t lie, I do text. I text more than I make calls. But the simple fact remains, if I am in a movie theater, the second the previews start, my phone is on vibrate, and I don’t touch it till the movie is over. I paid $10 to see that movie, not listen to clicky keyboards and get distracted by tiny glowing screens.

  • Hemi Halliwell June 9, 2011, 10:42 am

    Hallelujah! I can NOT stand it when people use their phones during movies!! It disrupts your “night vision” and ruins the movie, IMO.
    Congrats to the movie theater for turning her phone call around to bite her in the bum! It has to be humiliating to her for people who know her to hear her ranting like a lunatic and cursing during the PSA before movies. Of course, she probably does not feel humiliation considering her behavior.

  • Butterfly June 9, 2011, 10:47 am

    I swore when I quit my lousy job at my local theater that I would never go back to the movie business, but I think I could actually work for the Alamo (if I lived in Texas). They seem to have the cajones my home theater was missing!

  • DGS June 9, 2011, 10:57 am

    As someone who had lived in Austin for a number of years and a UT alumna, all I have to say is, “Hook’em, Horns” and “Bless the Alamo Drafthouse”!

  • Mippa June 9, 2011, 11:02 am

    @IKB: What all the others have said. Also, as a frequent Drafthouse-goer (I think I’ve gone to all the locations both in my hometown of San Antonio *and* Austin!) I assure you that this person was told *REPEATEDLY* to put away her phone.

    I love Drafthouse for many reasons, and I’m glad they’re getting the positive publicity they so totally deserve.

    …now if only they’d make their menu a bit healthier…;)

  • Leslie Holman-Anderson June 9, 2011, 11:09 am

    This is a perfectly WONDERFUL (yes, I know I’m yelling, or in this case, exclaiming) way for Alamo Drafthouse to make their point once and for all and turn a nasty little incident into a triumph of a PSA.
    RE: the use of profanity: It has its place. Dr. Hiakawa, the great linguist, once defended it by pointing out the difference between a nice day and a helluva nice day. In this case, bleeping but leaving it obvious what she’d said revealed for all to hear what a nasty little tart the girl was. I hope all her friends recognized her voice and rag her about it for the next five years.

  • Enna June 9, 2011, 11:11 am

    Wow some people need to go back to the Kindgergarten school of manners. Shocking.

    @ Ake, I can’t believe those girls were so silly. They aren’t punishing the Church they are cutting their noses off to dispite their face. It might be that they are embrassed but I bet it’s cos they are too immature and rude.

  • ferretrick June 9, 2011, 11:48 am

    “What about the texter/caller’s claim that she was using her phone to get to her seat?”

    That whole part of the message was you-know-what. If you notice, the first thing she says is she didn’t know about texting in the theater-then she starts in on the flashlight thing-then later she’s back to saying she was texting again. So, which was it really? Flashlight or text? I’m thinking #2.

  • Michelle June 9, 2011, 11:51 am

    @BeachMum, this theater actually doesn’t allow children under 6 except on “baby days,” and all other children (under 18) must be accompanied by an adult.

    A big part of that is because they serve alcohol during the movie, but as seen by this PSA, they do care about the experience as well 🙂

  • The Other Amber June 9, 2011, 11:55 am

    According to the theatre’s policy a patron is told at least twice to turn their cell phone off (or stop talking, whatever the offense is) prior to be kicked out of the theatre. In addition there are apparently signs posted throughout the theatre, and the initial on-screen PSA telling people the rules. So for her not to know is basically akin to being given a ticket for speeding after passing numerous signs posting the speed limit and being given at least 2 warnings.

    Also according to the theatre they’re showing 2 versions of her voicemail PSA – one uncensored one for the more “mature” films, and a censored version for films where there might be a younger audience.

  • nannerdoman June 9, 2011, 11:55 am

    I can never understand why people will pay to go into a movie and then spend it texting (i.e., not being at the movie)!

  • LovleAnjel June 9, 2011, 11:56 am

    @Ikb If she was using her phone to find her seat, the screen would have been pointed away from her, illuminating the ground, and she would have been walking. No one would mistake that for texting.

  • Louise June 9, 2011, 11:58 am

    I don’t understand why you would text in a movie theatre instead of watching the movie you paid a pretty price to see.

  • kristin June 9, 2011, 12:33 pm

    What I can never fathom when I see people texting in a theatre (which is just about every time I go) is – movie prices are utterly ridiculous these days in my opinion. Upwards of ten bucks a ticket for an evening showing, where I live. So why on earth would you pay for a ticket and then NOT pay attention to the movie? What is going through these little etiquette-deprived minds?!

    I have to say, I really love the way the Alamo Drafthouse handled this situation and for once in my life, wish I lived in Texas just to go to a movie theater where the NO CELL PHONES and NO TALKING rules are actually enforced. (Though this upstate NY girl would probably melt after about four minutes in Texas. It hit 95 degrees here yesterday and every store in the area ran out of air conditioners because we were in such a panic. 😉 )

  • badkitty June 9, 2011, 12:47 pm

    For me, the funniest part is where she insists that it wasn’t bothering anybody… um, in order for the staff to notice that you’re texting, it would have to be apparent from pretty far away – which means you’d have to be bothering a LOT of people. Sheesh. Just because these individuals didn’t respond as rudely as she no doubt would have done to a disruption of their movie-going experience doesn’t mean that nobody noticed. And yes, this is another example of someone being repeatedly rude and inconsiderate and then blaming others for not being kind and polite enough to let them continue with their boorish behavior. (BTW, I’m positively addicted to my phone and live in terror of missing a call or a text and I still manage to not use it in a theatre.)

  • ladycrim June 9, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I can hear the sounds of audience members cheering upon seeing that PSA in the theater…

    I’m sending this to my cousins in Austin to encourage them to patronize the Drafthouse!

  • Tyler June 9, 2011, 1:40 pm

    @madame-mim: I’m right there with you. I also teach at a university, and I’m only a few years older than those I teach, but every year, I’ve noticed that the problem with students using cell phones during class becomes worse and worse. I would have never dreamed of texting during class! Not only is it blatantly rude, but it also sends the message to one’s teacher that his/her class is less important than chatting it up with a friend. That’s not exactly the message a student wants to send to the person responsible for grading his/her papers. Even banning cell phones in the syllabus, subtracting points from grades, and being reprimanded in class hasn’t stopped the problem. If the conversation is truly so important that it would earn you a poor grade in class, why even bother showing up at all? Stay home and chat it up to your heart’s content!

    In regards to movie theater patrons, I honestly have no idea what goes through some people’s heads. I remember on one occasion while watching a movie, the couple next to me talked through the entire movie. I don’t even think they watched any of the movie the entire time they were there. Going to the movies has become pretty expensive in the last few years, and if you’re going to dole out that kind of cash, I don’t understand why you would spend the entire time there engaged in conversation (via cell phone or otherwise).

  • Maitri June 9, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Around here, people don’t wear watches and they use their cell phones to check the time. IMO, if you know it’s a 2-hour movie, assume you will be there for, oh I don’t know, two hours!??! I don’t wear a watch either, but I know going in how long I’m going to be there, so why would I need to check the time?

  • Chocobo June 9, 2011, 2:04 pm

    God Bless the Magnited States!

    A few people I know who are actually older than me do this and it drives me NUTS. We were once at a concert that we paid a pretty price to see live and one of the men who went with us spent the whole time checking the score on the Yankees game. I commented on how silly I thought it was to pay so much money to see something live when you can just listen at home for free and text all you want.