Earlier this year, we surveyed you – and got thousands of replies! – on your thoughts on the state of British cinemas. There were lots of positive stories to share, but also, you gave us lots of examples of times when things hadn’t quite gone to plan.
We’ve read every single one of them, and provided, for a mix of your horror and entertainment, 92 examples you cited. In fact, it’s 91, and one we added because we thought it was funny, and we’re a bit immature.
It would be fair to say that around half of the respondents we had were complaining, with utter justification, about mobile phones. The light from mobile phones, the noise, people updating their social media status. That, children in 12A screenings, and the smell of nachos were the big themes. But without further ado, here are some of your grumbles…
The last time myself and my then girlfriend went to our local multiplex the hall was quite empty apart from a few groups scattered about. There was a group of younger ones sitting midway down, their behaviour was atrocious. Someone else went out to complain about them and a staff member and the manager came in and threw myself and my girl out thinking we were at fault. Even though other people were telling them it wasn’t us they were adamant we were to leave. I have never been back.
I was once reported to the manager for repeating asking a woman to put away her mobile phone. Apparently, my constant talking disturbed her daughter’s, who was crawling around on the floor for most of the film, enjoyment of the film.
Had to ask a mother to stop filming the whole film on her phone just yesterday, and was simply asked “Why?”. Had to run through all the reasons – annoying for us to only see her screen, it is illegal, disrespectful and a bad example to her children, who were clearly bored and bouncing off the seats and slamming their drinks and food around anyway.
Look who it is!
12 year old kids on the row behind shouting “Shit! it’s Batman!” when watching Batman Vs Superman. For an hour.
I was at a late night screening one night in Cambridge and there was some sort of disagreement at the back of the room. Things quietened down but then, five minutes later, the rear doors smashed open and a guy in his 20s roared “TELL ME TO BE QUIET YOU BITCHES!” before gassing the entire audience with a CO2 fire extinguisher he’d torn from the wall. This blurred the line between a good and bad experience for me.
Worst includes a man taking shoes and socks off to pick his feet. Was quiet though.
A ‘gentleman’ next to my wife took his sock off and started picking his feet during the film
Are you sure you should be here?
I was watching the first Avengers movie. During the film, the guy next to me was repeatedly checking his phone, much to my annoyance. When I challenged him, he said his wife was in labour and he was waiting to be told to go to the hospital.
‘Should know better’
Most annoying was being able to hear ushers discussing their weekend plans outside of the screen. It wasn’t overly intrusive, only slightly distracting, but it got to me because they should know better.
I once went to the cinema and a girl was quite obviously performing a sex act on her partner. Someone else went and complained, and they were asked to leave the cinema – but no one could quite concentrate on the film after that…
I used to work for Cineworld, but it gave a great insight into how audiences behaved (and what they left behind afterwards. Fifty Shades? Don’t make me relive it…)
I was trying to watch Moana and there was a couple attempting to have sex discreetly in the corner. I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to miss any of the film and they were finished quite quickly. I thought it was a tad inappropriate for a kids film though.
Choose your battle
Being threatened after asking man in front to stop talking throughout the film. He jumped over seat to start a fight. I stood up and at 6ft 3 was 6 inches taller. I won.
On the same note
Went to see the original Let The Right One In. Cinema to myself. Bliss. In walk two couples of forty somethings. ‘Could be worse’ I think. They don’t realise it’s subtitled until the film starts and moan incessantly about it among themselves for the opening 10 minutes or so.
I have enough and politely, yet maybe slightly menacingly ask them to be quiet. I’m big, I shave my head, I have tattoos and a Scottish accent.
Two elderly ladies sat a couple of empty seats along a row from me during a Bond movie and spent much of the film talking loudly about what a nice man Daniel Craig was (and he was “a very nice man”).
Two mature ladies sat behind me and my wife (when we were the only people in the screening) and continued to talk. Why would we want to pay money to listen to an old lady talk about her bowels?
A call for projectionists
Went to go see Mockingjay at the local Reel Cinema with my mum – a lot of families there for a 12 rated film. There had been a mistake in the computer, and they actually started showing the remake of Carrie – an 18! They then could not show Mockingjay after all, and tried to apologise by giving us vouchers to reimburse us for the cost of the tickets, and did not wish to reimburse us with cash or for the refreshments we had bought for a film that they refused to show.
When visiting my local Odeon I was the only person at a screening of a film. The start time came and went without the obligatory adverts starting so I wondered out to see what was happening. Apparently, they didn’t know anyone was in the screening and so had turned the projector off and apparently there was no one left in the cinema who knew how to turn it back on again. I questioned this and was offered the chance to watch another film instead. When I remained adamant that there was no other film I wanted to see they begrudgingly gave me ‘free tickets’ for another time but wouldn’t give me a full refund.
This isn’t necessarily audience behaviour but the behaviour of the cinema towards an issue put forward to them about a showing of a film. I went to see Guardians Of The Galaxy at my local Vue and the image down both sides was blurry, the middle of the image was fine. So it was an issue with the focus of the projector. Several of the audience including myself complained, they took a look, restarted the film and said as its automatic they can’t do anything about it for this film showing. So we asked if we would get a refund on at least some of the ticket price for not seeing the film in its indented state. They said no, you stay and watch the film then no refund of any sort. I understand not a full refund as we watched the film, but it was a sub-par experience and it wasn’t how the film should be presented. it was the only showing I was able to make for a while, so had to endure watching a film that was ever so slightly out of focus. That may not sound much but it is certainly distracting.
Choose your seat
One latecomer (an old lady) couldn’t find an empty seat in the dark and nearly sat on me thinking the seat was free.
We had lots of people unhappy with facets of reserved seating. Here are a few examples. Some likes reserved seating, some didn’t. There was no consensus here, really…
People not sitting in the assigned seat even though they were asked at the time of purchase to choose a particular row and seat. Particularly when it is a popular showing which causes disruption, annoyance and general chaos.
With Cineworld it’s selected seating. So when people are late and the cinema is barely full, they still insist on trying to find their seat, rather than use common sense and find any seat. Bearing in mind, the chances of them choosing someone else’s seat when they are already 10-15 mins into the film are slim
Couple sat in our row who brought a multiple course picnic with them, each course in its own Tupperware box, wrapped in silver foil. Stank the place out, made plenty of noise and left a real mess. Carried on despite being asked to stop by several people.
I wish popcorn was issued in cardboard cartons like they used to. Paper bags may be cheaper (for the cinema) but too noisy. [lots of people asked for this]
Picturehouse Clapham allowed a guy into a screening of Frank with some kind of salmon dish, eating it loudly with a knife and fork and it stank the place out.
Once had someone using very intimidating behaviour accusing me of eating my sweets too loudly behind him so that he and his wife were forced to move seats.
When we went to see Don’t Breathe when the lights went down a woman decided to use the flashlight on her mobile to be able to see her nachos. I put up with it for a couple of minutes but it was blinding half of the cinema so I sternly asked her from my seat to turn it off because why the hell should an audience put up with that type of behaviour? She did and I got a cheer and thanks lol.
I once sat behind someone eating sweets loudly, and me and my wife were forced to move seats as a result. I admit I was a bit harsh.
Scotland audiences habitually bring plastic carrier bags full of snacks to avoid getting ripped off – but this leads to endless rustling of these bags all the way through most films. Plainly we need more hipsters with tote bags north of the border.
Family of six or seven took their seats and dished out a full, pungent-smelling curry/casserole on paper plates.
I sat next to a couple who took up six seats with the whole picnic they brought. Sandwiches, family size crisps, trifle and treacle tart along with giant bottles of coke and also nachos and popcorn from the kiosk! All absolutely true, and they left all their mess on the seats and floor which is how I knew what they’d scoffed when the lights came up!
We had a man eating see home made food in the screen. It smelt so bad it made people feel ill. Also, his eating mannerisms weren’t the most pleasant. I had to leave for some air and a staff member asked me what was wrong. I told her, she followed me into the screen and couldn’t believe the smell. She then left and did nothing about it!
Sat next to a hipster couple who brought hummous, apples and celery as their picnic for Frances Ha!
This one time, during a screening of The Martian, an individual turned up very late to the near-three hour film with every item of food from the stand… I mean everything… nachos, popcorn, sweets, XL drink and sat right down next to me where there were 100s of empty seats around. He decided to chomp his way through his items. He then decided to put his food on the chair between us where we had put our coats and belongings. About 60% into the movie he spilt his popcorn all over our coats, no apology and then continued to eat… EAT… his spilt food off my clothes.
I turned and looked to the individual and asked kindly to stop and if he could eat quietly. In return he told me to ‘F’ off and naturally I said the same. He moved one seat further away and the film basically ended. He got up and left as quick as possible but the worst part was all the mess he left behind.
And, echoing what dozens of people wrote…
Nachos!!!!! Why on God’s earth are these sold.
Once the hot dog, popcorn and cheese-covered nacho eaters have had their way, my local Odeon stinks like the inside of my trainers.
A guy drinking a full bottle of wine and laughing his way through Fences.
Someone once vomited on the person in front of them during The Matrix Reloaded. Think they’d been drinking, it ruined the screening for everyone because of the smell.
During a screening of Captain America: Civil War at Cineworld, a drunk patron repeatedly fell asleep during the screening and was loudly snoring. Despite repeated attempts to get staff to intervene, nobody would assist. The staff told us that they could not leave the refreshments counter and help because they were understaffed. This isn’t the only time I’ve had issues in cinemas due to a lack of staff or ushers.
When I went to see Logan there was a child literally dancing on the ledge above the door, a fall from there would definitely have killed him.
Too many adverts!
Films starting sometimes 45 mins after the time given due to 30 mins of adverts. It is too much.
Missing the adverts!
Previous cleaning happening too close to the start of the next screening. Once stood outside due to the cleaning barrier being up and listened to the start of our trailers.
A family complaining they could not sit in the bigger seats! When they had not paid for them!
Nothing in the UK has compared to seeing The Blair Witch Project in Florida, and a couple bringing a baby in a pushchair and two young children; they argued with everyone in the place that they were entitled to do it, and the fact that they couldn’t stop the two little ones being terrified (which made the baby cry) wasn’t their fault.
I attended a Cineworld with my dad. A woman was with two children misbehaving. These kids went on to rummage through one man’s bag and attempted to do it to my dad’s. He said “What are you doing?” to which an argument broke out with the mum who then slapped my dad and tried to a second time. Manager was a nice woman who gave us complementary tickets.
A time when there was a party of kids and the parent/s thought it would be a good idea to give them swinging glowstick lights.
During The Martian, two unsupervised children (parent later found to be seated elsewhere at same screening) spent the whole film laughing, whooping and clapping whenever they felt like it, having nothing to do with what was on screen.
You can never find staff and if you question a parent you will get yelled at! I asked a women’s child to stop talking and kicking my seat and the mother defended her child and told her to talk as much as she wanted because she was three. We were watching a children’s film and she told us we should have gone to an adult showing (they don’t exist) and acted as if we were at fault even though all the other children and adults could behave themselves. Staff don’t stop this behaviour unless told even if they see it which is very annoying.
The 12A problem
I’ve seen people with babies in prams and pushchairs in our local Cineworld, and Cineworld say it’s fine in a 12A because they’re accompanied by an adult, because we all know babies and 12 year olds are interchangeable.
Sully – 10pm screening at my local Showcase in Leicester. A family had brought along their children – aged around 7 and 4. The seven year old was sitting very happily and quietly but the four year old was talking all the way though the trailers – there was a bit of shushing as the certificate went up, and it all went quiet. The film started, and the kid started murmuring again – so the dad took her out. But not completely out – he stood with her in the corridor still watching the film. The kid kept talking, so he took her completely out – 10 minutes later they come back in and reclaim their seats. 3 minutes of silence – then the kid starts talking again. More and more people in the screen got agitated and started having a pop at the dad – eventually he says to his wife “I think we’ll have to go” – and then takes five minutes of faffing at maximum volume before actually leaving with a “Sorry – enjoy your film”. Nice try mate, you completely ruined that.
Lack of taste!
After watching my favourite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 72 mm, at the Prince Charles Cinema, as the audience filed out of the building, I heard a guy turn to his girlfriend and say, “See, I told you that would be a waste of time.” I wanted to cause an incident.
A drunken fool attempted to climb up to the screen during a showing of Jason X at Odeon Southampton. Luckily for us, he was wearing his empty popcorn bucket on his head, so the resulting fall and possible concussion caused him to exit the screen.
It’s too hot!
A very common problem in British cinemas, Vue especially, is a severe lack in temperature management. I assume that as it is normally cold out in England they make no efforts to monitor the temp in cinemas, but in crowded viewings it can get unbearably hot, to the point of falling asleep or passing out!
It’s too cold!
I’ve found my local Odeon to be unbearably cold on a number of occasion resulting in having to huddle for warmth under a coat.
The last Bond film was spoiled by women loudly discussing how “fit” Daniel Craig was and shouting “get your kit off” at the screen.
The first twenty minutes of Inception was marred by a man very aggressively shouting that he didn’t know what was going on. I told him “No one has, the films only just started, please be quiet” and he stormed out and reported me to the usher.
Lights too bright are still an issue, especially if I’m unfortunate enough to be watching something in 3D. Could there be separate screenings for people willing to put up with the danger of watching a movie in the dark?
Once a guy in my row kept flicking a lighter on and off. I went out and told two members of staff since it was both distracting but also the dude was literally playing with fire. The staff members acknowledged it and said someone would be in. No one ever came into the cinema. The guy flicked his lighter to the end of the film.
I was watching World War Z, sitting by the wall and I noticed two cockroaches scuttle up. Jumped half a mile and changed seats. Also had mice running around my feet for Riddick, but at least it was a distraction.
The Odeon in Weston-super-Mare insists on keeping the house lights on throughout the movie. When a number of people complained they were all told that this was for health and safety, so people don’t fall! Not sure how we survived all those dark cinemas during the last 100 years of cinema!
[In defence of cinema chains, we’ve heard from lots who have adopted this policy due to claims made against them by people tripping over in the dark]
Do you hear the mobile ring?
I once saw a phone physically wrestled out of someone’s hand during Les Miserables because they refused to stop using it. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do. What I AM saying is that it turned out to be a much more entertaining spectacle than the film itself!
I accidentally got some kids chucked out of one of the Hunger Games movies. I reported that they were running around at the front of the auditorium and making noise to the usher, expecting them to be given a good talking to. It turned out they weren’t accompanied by an adult and so were immediately ejected. My own family asked what I’d said to the cinema staff to affect such drastic action. I told them I asked for the children to be dragged away and sent to the real Hunger Games….
The loud laughers
Guardians Of The Galaxy at Prince Charles; love the film but there was one bloke laughing loudly at everything, absolutely everything and pretty much the entire audience told him to shut up at some point.
It doesn’t sound right
My regular issue is one of sound, I have slightly dodgy hearing in one ear and every now and again the sound is distorted. Often with films these days, or so it seems there can be quite a discrepancy between the volume of the dialogue and the rest of the films sound effects/ music etc.
Funniest experience has to be the opening night of Logan at my local cinema, standard audience of superfans, geeks and nerds. guy gets seated at the end of our row and behaves oddly from the outset. He keeps muttering, and sighing, and shuffling in his chair.
I should also mention the chap sat behind me whose breathing is so deep and slow that he’s either asleep or meditating or just so incredibly engrossed in the minutiae of the whole cinema experience; back to the guy on the end… it’s getting to the point where I’m stifling laughter as he keeps commenting and reacting to the film, particularly the appearance of Caliban, which seems to elicit a very favourable reaction from our neighbour.
He perks up and says the name whenever the character has been off screen for a while then reappears. I know well enough not to even glance at my friend next to me as she can obviously tell that I’m finding the whole thing humorous and that one look will unleash the mirth bubbling away. But a squeak of laughter erupts, having been held under pressure for too long, when the character appears once more, and our friend, longingly calls out in climactic fashion “Ohhhhhhh, Caliban”. I shall avoid opening nights in future.
No words, and no further detail provided
I was chokeslammed once during a showing of Kiss Of The Dragon in Odeon Leicester.
Not a scaredy cat
I’ve had to give up on watching horror films in the cinema as there’s always that one guy that’s trying to hide the fact he’s scared by laughing loudly at everything and talking incessantly. Loudly.
Incorrect dinosaur trivia
A couple with a child of about 7 or 8 who decided to narrate most of Jurassic World. The parents joined in by loudly asking him questions about the dinosaurs.
He was frequently wrong about the dinosaurs, which didn’t help.
There’s a fly in my film!
There was a fly in the projector lens for about an hour of the film the other day and no one did anything. I think it just escaped eventually.
A very annoying thing is when some ‘not very nice person’ in the backbenches drops a round sweet like an M&M, which then rolls down and drops on each lower row with a repeating sound effect, until it finally ends on the first row before the screen. So sneaky and purposely done during quiet emotional scenes…
A ticket counter please!
Buying seats at the confectionary counter. WHY?!?! What happened to ticket booths?! [lots of people shared similar complaints]
Lost in translation
A man translating film into Spanish for his non-English speaking companion [we’ve had lots of examples along this lines…]
A couple of examples as to why people don’t tell others to be quiet in the cinema…
I once shushed someone at the cinema. The man was sitting behind me and came very close to my ear and said “you shush me one more time”. It was terrifying and I was uncomfortable for the rest of the film.
Guy in front had a habit of placing his hands on his head every time things on screen got exciting – which by extension blocked my view. After the umpteenth time I tapped him on the shoulder and said “could you put your hands down, please” to which he responded with an unapologetic “Fuck off!”
Asked a couple be quiet during a movie, they waited outside and attacked my wife and I in the street. Nothing to do with the venue after and off the premises but they were drinking and creating noise in the theatre. I felt the situation should have been monitored to provide safety for their patrons. There seems to be the notion that a movie hall requires the same level of decorum as a pub and I was the asshole for asking these two to be quiet.
Once during a screening of Jurassic World a group of teenagers were causing a lot of trouble. Repeated calls for them to be quiet by multiple patrons resulted in nothing, staff were called. During this chaos, two huge guys came in. One of them dragged one of the troublemakers out of his seat , threatened to rip his nuts off. They were quiet for the rest of the film.
Editor’s note: Den Of Geek does not condone threatening to rip people’s testicles off.
A bad example would be when the girls behind me in a Odeon sat through the first 20 minutes of Interstellar chatting on their phones about where they were going to clubbing afterwards. After words were exchanged they stopped for a few minutes then started at such a volume that the film was being ruined. I cracked, left the screening and found a manager, told him that they were filming the film illicitly on their phones, and they were escorted out. Thus I win. [lots of people have told us this technique]
Went to see Rogue One with my wife and 12-year old. Kids were playing up in there, parents unconcerned by their conduct, and generally making for a miserable experience. Reached a point where I’d had enough, so told my young friend to cover his ears. from the covered single at the front where we were sitting, I screamed: “SHUUUUUDDDDUUUUUPPP!!!!” The offenders fell deathly quiet and didn’t pipe up.
Some people were talking at the start of a film. Turned around and called them the C-word. After that they were very respectful of the cinemagoing experience.
Two visits to my local Cineworld in a month, both showings full of foreign exchange students behaving awfully. Complained to staff. Nothing happened. Being 6’2″ and threatening the ring leader quietly to his face… worked.
Iron Man flies!
During Iron Man 3 a guy next to me exclaimed “Oh my God he flies!” very loud. How has he got to the third film (four including Assemble) and not known that?
Just a small flavour of the phone-related complaints we’ve received…
Legitimately had to tell someone turn the torch on his phone off yesterday.
a guy during Magnificent Seven was just scrolling through his Facebook feed, literally watching videos of other things while the film was on.
Watching Logan at the Vue in Harrow the lady in the row in front decided she was going to Snapchat all the way through the film then used her phone as a mirror to check her appearance!
Was privileged to attend a preview screening of Arrival and the young lady seated next to me constantly whispered to her friend and thought it prudent to check her phone every few minutes. After finally having enough of her glowing distraction I whispered to her that her phone was on and distracting me to which she replied “I know”.
Recently a guy got bored and whipped out his laptop during The Girl With All The Gifts. Then looked genuinely baffled when asked to put it away.
When I saw The Hateful Eight, I saw the 70mm roadshow version in Leicester Square. Super fun event cinema. The film started with a three minute overture, during which three separate people took out their phones and took a picture to share on social media. Technically, I guess the film hadn’t started, even though technically it really had. The worse part is that the third person took a picture of the screen… In portrait! At a 70mm screening! I had to laugh, it was amazing.
The one woman who I scared the living daylights out of when I tapped her on the shoulder. She hadn’t heard me ask her to turn her phone of because she was playing a game with her headphones on.
Group of lads discussing one of the actresses during the film and then looking her up on Imdb
Once was sat next to a woman whose phone rang and she answered it saying “no I’m fine to talk, just in cinema”
And finally, perhaps our favourite…
Someone came to The Walk 3D in their shopmobility scooter and spent the first five minutes flashing lights at the screen while reversing into space with the ‘bleep bleep bleep’ noise going
Thank you to everybody who responded!