"NO TEXTING AT AMC. Won't happen. You spoke. We listened. Quickly, that idea has been sent to the cutting room floor."
The internet spoke, and AMC listened. Just hours after Adam Aron announced the possibility of texting-friendly theaters, AMC axed the idea.
For most (99.9 percent) moviegoers, texting while in the theater is quite possibly one of the gravest sins possible. Whether the clicking of typing away or the light from the screen, cell phone use has long been frowned upon, even disdained, by both the theater industry and film buffs alike.
Well that may come to an end soon, at least in some places.
While attending CinemaCon this week in Las Vegas, the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron sat down for an interview with Variety. During that interview, he shared a potential marketing plan many may find quite surprising: allowing text-friendly theaters.
The topic came up when Aron was asked if there were any particular demographics the company was planning to target with a nearly $4 billion marketing campaign. He mentioned three groups: people already interested in movie who could be enticed to see more, market share taken away from competitors and the third, “pockets of consumers who do not see as many movies as other segments of the population and that we can be doing more to attract those people,” he said.
Aron mentioned millennials as a potential consumer base to be tapped, and said the company would need to reshape its product in order to attract younger customers.
Variety reporter Brent Long asked if appealing to millennials involved cell phone use in theaters, Aron had this to say:
“Yes. When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cell phone. That’s not how they live their life.”
While the idea of a bright screen ruining a movie should be quite appalling, Aron is keeping traditional moviegoers in mind.
“At the same time, though, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on.”
Some of the possible ways mentioned to possibly create a texting-friendly theater included a texting zone, or even auditorium specifically designated to allow for cell phone usage.
In the immediate aftermath of Aron’s idea, scores of websites and internet users took to the web to voice their displeasure at the idea of including texting at the theater, causing Aron to release a clarifying statement today:
"There is no specific time frame as to when we might introduce such a test, if ever…We would only introduce a concept like this when we are totally confident that we can fully satisfy the desires of our current guests," the statement added.”
Here in Tucson, AMC owns and operates the AMC Loews Foothills Theater at the Foothills Mall. Though there is a relatively small presence in town, AMC Entertainment will be the largest movie theater operator in the world after a $1.1 billion merger with Carmike Cinemas.
Texting in theaters: a good idea, or a horrible possibility?