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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.

  • Caper June 9, 2011, 2:19 pm

    The worst part is that a lot of commenters on news sites that are covering this are saying “If you’re so easily distracted by cell phone screens, you shouldn’t go out” or “The whole point of texting is being quiet – better than talking right” or some variation of that.

    Some people don’t seem to understand that texting during a movie is rude, rude, rude !! So is talking – to your seat mate or on the phone, using the seat in front of you as a foot rest, etc.

  • Caper June 9, 2011, 2:25 pm

    I wish I posted this with my last comment, but I also wanted to say – why does there even HAVE to be PSA’s and signs posted stating no texting / chatting on phone ? I always thought it was the kind of thing that went without saying. Common courtesy and all of that.

  • --Lia June 9, 2011, 3:00 pm

    It isn’t just movie theaters. I’d love it if every business advertised that they don’t want disruptive customers and that they kick such customers out. Take the bad fliers from yesterday. If a major airline had a clever television ad showing them kicking the rude passengers off the plane, I’d give that airline my business. If restaurants made it clear that they want the dining experience to be pleasurable for everyone, perhaps that they ask (nay, demand) that the parents of the squalling infants get up from their own dinners so they can take care of their children, I’d go back to that restaurant. (I’m not talking about a place that caters to kids; I mean one that serves wine and expensive entrees.) The list goes on: supermarkets, gift shops, sports events, department stores. If the management gets rid of the few that make it horrible for everyone else, if the management advertised that they did so and kept their word, I, and I bet many others, would flood them with business and tip well besides.

  • tankgirl June 9, 2011, 3:12 pm

    I twisted my ankle at the alamo drafthouse so I’m getting a kick out of these replies….

    No, seriously, I did. One of their locations is kept waaay darker than the others. We weren’t late either – they had darkened the theatre for some of their pre-pre-show stuff. I wiped out and was horribly embarrassed. Limped for a day or so.

    The girl was unbearably rude, and I love the drafthouse, but I stopped going to one of their locations because of the poor lighting.

  • Jillybean June 9, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I was at a movie once where someone’s phone rang. I figure they’ll pull it out and quickly silence it (as I would, if it happened to me somehow). Next thing you hear is, “Hello?” “Oh yeah, man.” “No, I’m at the movies.” Seriously – this guy HAD A CONVERSATION! It was easily 5 minutes long. No amount of people turning and glaring at him, no amount of people shushing him, etc. made any difference. At one point he even said, “I’ll be off in a second!” As if we were his impatient children trying to get his attention. I still can’t believe it when I think back on it. People did get up to find a staffer, but he was off by the time they got back, so nothing happened.

  • YWalkalone June 9, 2011, 4:22 pm

    If you read the original article, there is a link to another of the Drafthouse’s PSAs featuring late Gov. Ann Richards. I suggest watching it–it made me crack up!
    I second other commenters; if I lived in Texas you can bet this would be the only theater I’d patronize. It’s great to see a company enforcing their stated policies instead of becoming a doormat every time a customer who was clearly in the wrong gives them a dirty look.

  • AS June 9, 2011, 4:55 pm

    @Tankgirl – maybe you can send a comment/suggestion to the management about the low light in a corridor. A friendly comment from a loyal customer might be taken into consideration.

    In my hometown (not in USA), there were staffs from the theatre with flashlights who would guide people who come in after the lights have gone off. They never disturbed anyone watching the movie.

    Coming back to the booroner in Austin, I was confused too as to whether she claimed she was texting or using the phone as a flash light. Based on the comments from others here, it seems that she should have been given several warnings before being shown the door. Unless someone likes to see constantly the place they are seated on, I don’t see why she couldn’t turn off the phone after the first warning.

  • LaurenP June 9, 2011, 5:19 pm

    To be fair, texting is better than calling in cinemas etc. Kind of in the same way that breaking your leg is better than having it amputated…

    Don’t people go to cinemas to watch films anymore?

  • starstruck June 9, 2011, 5:26 pm

    i am not excusing her behavior by any means, but i honestly don’t mind when people text. i guess being a mom and having kids left at home with a sitter, i like to be able to check on them without leaving the theatre. but i always make it a point to hide my phone as much as possible so it doesn’t disturb anyone else. like under my purse or jacket or something. and i surely would have stopped texting the moment i was asked to.

  • Justine June 9, 2011, 5:28 pm

    If I am ever in Texas I will remember the Alamo.

  • Andi June 9, 2011, 5:29 pm

    Oh and as far as her claim that it wSnt bothering anyone- any patron in the the-a-ter can put up a note for their server stating someone’s behavior is bothering them – anything from being obnoxious and loud to cell phones. So it’s very likely someone did complain.

    And yes, there are at least 2 PSA announcements before every movie- I love the zombi one

  • Tundra June 9, 2011, 5:36 pm

    Wow this would be fantastic. Here (Australia), staff aren’t even in and watching anyone in the theatre after the movie starts! So there’s no one to go around and say ‘stop it now, rude people!’

    This theatre sounds absolutely fantastic.

  • Babs June 9, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Love it! I head a portion of this played on the radio this morning and the DJ’s were laughing their heads off. Thanks for running the whole thing. Got a kick out of it. Unfortunately, the worst offenders will NEVER see themselves, and will just continue to make excuses for themselves and blame everybody else!

  • Rebecca June 9, 2011, 10:17 pm

    Yaay Alamo Theater. I don’t live anywhere near this place, but if I did, I think I’d be their new best customer.

  • walden June 9, 2011, 11:41 pm

    Oooh, Livvy, you nailed a particular peeve of mine: That large group of entitled folks that wander in five minutes after the beginning of a general seating event of some sort, hover around standing, walking around in front of you, being generally distracting, looking for those last seats, having a confab in the aisle, discuss who’s going to sit where after begging people to change rows for you doesn’t work, then finally get seated in time for you to have missed about 15 minutes of the beginning…

  • walden June 9, 2011, 11:48 pm

    Beachmum and others: Do NOT feel you have to put up with this behavior the whole movie. Go complain! If the ushers can’t handle the problem, ask for a refund and get out of there. You should never have to pay for a bad experience. This is the way we make change in the theatres we attend, by punishing the businesses that are lax about these distractions.

  • Kry June 10, 2011, 12:11 am

    Hope that girl is named and shamed for that call.
    Last summer (in australia) I went to a live ïn the park” performance of A mid summers night dream. This consists of the actors using the whole area (including around and in the audience). on 3 seperate times the actors in the audience stopped and stated to the person they were near to turn off the phone or leave (in apropriate Shakesperian). At the end of the show many of us gave an extra round of aplause for doing that.

  • Shiksagoddess June 10, 2011, 12:14 am

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen since 27bslash6

  • Mojo June 10, 2011, 1:29 am

    Two British radio presenters, Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, wrote their own Moviegoer’s Code of Conduct, which I think is great fun.

    It is wonderful to see other theatres have the same idea. If only they were all like this, and enforced the rules, for the comfort of all their customers.

  • Xena_Xavier June 10, 2011, 3:56 am

    I caught this on YouTube, and just don’t get it. I’ve always switched my phone off completely before the film starts. Who wants to text a friend when you’ve paid a full-price ticket to see a new release or beloved classic??? At least this young lady – who, btw’s, mouth should be washed out with soap – got her comeuppance.

  • Zelda June 10, 2011, 8:53 am

    In the words of dear Mr. Spock, “The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few.” People who insist on their right to text, tweet and chat wherever they please have no regard for anyone but themselves. I’ve been annoyed by people doing this at movies, lectures, concerts, and yes, even during prayers at a wake. Unless you’re Steven Hawking , NOTHING you’re thinking is earth-shattering enough that the world can’t wait to hear it.

  • BB-VA June 10, 2011, 1:21 pm

    @Justine – you can remember the Alamo here at the top of VA too – we have the only one outside of TX (so far).

  • Ginya June 10, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Oh, I love the Alamo Drafthouse! I went to one in San Antonio and they’re wonderful, I’m so glad they stuck to their guns. Of course in a room that’s almost completely back a bright little screen floating in the darkness is going to be disruptive. I can’t believe people who somehow think they’re entitled to this kind of behavior. Good for them 🙂

  • Acadianna June 10, 2011, 6:05 pm

    We go to Alamo Drafthouse often — we love that place! The “no-talking-no-texting” rule is just one part of that.

  • Guinevere June 10, 2011, 11:16 pm

    With 20+ minutes of previews in dim (but not dark) lighting, how can anyone be late to a movie anymore and have to use their own “flashlight”? I never go to movies anymore unless it’s one of those “gotta see it on a huge screen”, because people suck at the movies. They are loud, stinky, crinkle their food wrappers and take possession of the armrests. It’s not a good experience anymore. Too bad…..

  • Enna June 11, 2011, 10:30 am

    Its when people text constantly in the movie then it’s rude and distracting, plus the buttons do make some noise. It’s one thing if someone is texting before the film starts and it’s something important like a last minute change in travel arrangments to get home after the film but if it is something that can wait leave it until after the film.

  • Snowy June 11, 2011, 11:38 am

    @Guinevere: I was late to a movie just yesterday. I had an appointment that was set to end strictly at 4, so when it was over I got in the car and drove right to the theater (5 minutes), only to discover that our timekeeper had *not* kept time and we ended at 4:20. But I was set on seeing the movie and gambled on the 4:05 showing having plenty of ads, but I was wrong. The movie was already playing, some of the step lights were out on the stairs, and it was too dark for me to see a thing.

    So I stood there, discreetly to the side and out of anyone’s way, until my eyes had adjust enough and the scene brightened enough that I could identify an available seat and get to it quickly and quietly. No phone needed.

    Seriously, these people who claim “I NEEDED IT AS A FLASHLIGHT!!!111” What did people do in the 70’s, 80’s, early 90’s? Show up with a maglight?

  • Andrea June 11, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I used to go to the Alamo Drafthouse and I applaud the owners for fighting rudeness with cleverness and a good bit of Austin irony and snark. Rudeness during a movie drives me batty. I remember going to a movie with a friend and having it ruined because out of at least 100 empty seats, a chatty couple chose the seats right behind my friend and me. We eventually moved after repeatedly shushing them, but honestly–some people are so self-centered that they are oblivious. It was truly amazing. And testing is just as bad–I don’t want to see a bunch of screens light up in front of me as I’m being transported to medieval England or to a space adventure. 🙂

  • Fanboy Wife June 11, 2011, 6:06 pm

    I saw this earlier this week, and I love it! If I was a patron at that theater, I would be pleased that they don’t want her coming back. Going to see a movie is expensive enough, so I can’t imagine going and playing on one’s phone the entire time. Even if it’s quiet texting, the light is very annoying. It’s not just movie theaters either. I’ve seen this sort of behavior in plays and musicals too. I wonder how the actors feel when they can see the audience texting instead of watching the show they paid to see.

  • Enna June 12, 2011, 10:33 am

    @ Fanboy Wife: it is rude esp when it is a live performance and the actors can see that their work is being so disrepsected. The only time it is acceptable to text in a situation like that is if it is something urgent e.g. a parent seeing they have a text from the baby sitter which could be something important about their child. Or teenagers double checking that someone’s mum/dad is going to pick them up afterwards if there’s been a sudden change of plan.

  • Sarah Peart June 13, 2011, 3:31 am

    I welcome all forms of technology but we have to differentiate between want and need. The poster who used the example of text messages from parents in my opinion has mistaken one for the other. It is important but not urgent! If they are being picked up later or in a different place then knowing at the end of the movie is soon enough. Yes it is lovely to know things as they happen but is it necessary? I would suggest that it is not.

  • shostet June 13, 2011, 1:19 pm

    If the phone is visible enough to you to text (and how could you text if you couldn’t see it?) then it is visible enough to disturb someone else. As far as offering to stop texting if someone asks, you shouldn’t have to be asked. It just shouldn’t be done. If you need to check text messages before the movie is over, go to the lobby.

  • Jack June 14, 2011, 12:44 am


    I don’t see the issue with quietly whispering to your seat mate. If you are in a packed cinema, maybe not as you would disturb others, but in a semi-full cinema, whispering so as to be heard by the person next to you and no-one else doesn’t seem too rude. Texting however, is rude. I don’t want to see your little white light out of the corner of my eye.

  • lkb June 14, 2011, 7:15 am

    @Snowy: I understand your point but in the case described in your post, I would have asked at the ticket window about the number of previews and gone to a different showing rather than go in and possibly have missed up to 25 minutes (or more depending on how much time was spent stumbling over people in the dark, settling in and mentally bringing oneself up to speed) and potentially disturbing other people in the process.

    Personally I don’t object to someone using a phone as a flashlight discreetly in a very dark theater. Back in the day ushers did use flashlights. As long as it is aimed low and not in people’s line of vision and turned off promptly, it’s not generally a problem.

    I’m still not crazy about the vulgarities in the PSA but at least it was only shown before R-rated movies. Even if the bleeped out version was shown before movies with milder ratings, I’m uncomfortable about it. There are a lot of kids that go to those — and those of us who don’t particularly care to hear/read that kind of language or expose our kids to it. Do we always have to aim for the lowest common denominator?

  • Slytherinpurbld June 14, 2011, 5:48 pm

    at a theater in my hometown I went to see Jane Eyre in a very old theater and I was a little late (like a min or two) and the theater was pitch dark and the first couple min in the movie was dark. Since the light strips on the ground were not that bright and I didn’t wanna sit on anyone soI waited til the movie got brighter then found a seat

  • Krissy26 June 15, 2011, 12:54 pm

    I don’t think it was right of her to use her phone to text or to call the movie theater whining and useing profanity, however, I don’t feel like the proper response to bad behavior is shaming someone.

  • Alice June 17, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Krissy26, while I would normally agree with your statement, I think shaming is exactly apporpriate in this case. She thought she could just leave an outrageous message, venting and using any crude language she wanted because of her anonymity, but she ended up being, as we say, “hoist on her own petard.” Serves her exactly right; I hope she is ashamed, but I doubt it.

  • Enna June 22, 2011, 6:18 am

    I wonder what the woman’s behaviour was like when they escorted her out of the cinema? If it was like “I’m too well educated to have manners” post and she used some colourful langauge at the same time I’m not surprsied.

    Sarah Peart: the point I was trying to make is if it was a safety issue and it was done at the start e.g during ads before the film started properly it would be okay – txting “okay” only takes 2 secs before swithcing the phone off completely. I don’t know how I’ve mistaken one for the other.

    Krissy 26 – I think in this case shaming her is not a big issue as she isn’t named or identified.

  • Movie theatres are not cafes July 2, 2011, 5:15 am

    People are terrible in movie theatres. My 16yo sister cheerfully told the family the other day how when she went on dates they deliberately picked boring movies so they could talk o.O Honestly – why can’t you just go to a cafe or something if you aren’t going to focus on the movie anyway??

    I do leave my phone on during movies in case of emergencies – eg having to pick up my siblings from school at the last minute because my parent’s train was cancelled or something – but it’s always on vibrate and if I have to answer it I leave the theatre. I could understand someone taking a call as quietly as possible (while leaving the theatre to continue talking…) for this sort of reason, but texting during a movie is utterly unnecessary – there is no excuse.