While I don’t often go to the movies anymore now that I have young kids, a previous post (and its comments) about theater behavior got me thinking about the many, many movies I attended in my younger years and a situation that arose often that aggravated me.
Being a “follow the rules” person, I knew, even as a teen, that if I was seeing a very popular movie on a weekend night I needed to arrive extra early to make sure I could procure seats together with my friends. Often I would arrive 30 minutes before showtime and pick the “perfect” spot with my movie mates before the theater filled up. Inevitably, a group of 2 or 3 people would walk in at the end of the previews and see a nearly-full theater. The problem arose when they’d notice 3 empty seats in my row (not together as groups would keep a seat between them as “buffers”), and ask everyone in the row to move over so they could slide in on the end. Because I hate confrontation I’d always comply and end up behind a very tall person or in a suspiciously stained/broken seat, and end up straining my neck to see around them for the movie or hearing my chair squeak with every shift of body weight.
What should be the etiquette when something like this happens? Technically there are 3 open seats and 3 people who need them. To deny their request would seem really rude and petty. But at the same time why should I, who arrived significantly early to obtain a “good” seat, have to be inconvenienced for their lack of proper planning and arriving 30 seconds before (or sometimes right after) the start of a movie? 0115-15
Note to readers, I needed to reread the second paragraph a few times before I realized the writer is describing a situation where a theater row has several unclaimed seats that are scattered in the row as opposed to being clustered together. The late arrivals are requesting people move towards the middle of the row to consolidate all the empty seats into a few on the end of the row.
The answer is simple. Repeat after me, “I’m sorry but I cannot accommodate that request. You are free to use this empty seat though.” It has always been my understanding that if you arrive late to the theater, you take whatever seats you can find even if that means your party is split among several rows. One of the benefits of arriving early is that you do not have to resort to that but can choose to seat yourselves as a group.
Thankfully, American theaters are finally selling tickets for specific seats so this may be less of a problem.