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AMC Quashes Texting in Theaters Scuttlebutt

15 Apr, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Days after comments about younger moviegoers’ inability to separate from their cellphones prompted scuttlebutt AMC Theatres would allow texting during movie screenings, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron took to social media to kill the rumor.

“With your advice in hand, there will be NO TEXTING ALLOWED in any of the auditoriums at AMC Theatres. Not today, not tomorrow, and not in the foreseeable future,” Aron wrote.

The executive April 13 at CinamCon confab in Las Vegas opened a potential can of worms when he told Variety that the younger consumer has an association with their cellphone that apparently transcends conventional norms.

“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 cellphone. That’s not how they live their life,” Aron said.

The backlash was swift. While media outlets and social media heralded the possible move, Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League — no stranger to thinking out of the box — wrote an industry letter criticizing the idea.

“When it comes to our core business, creating a special environment for our customers to experience new stories for the first time, there is absolutely no place for the distraction of a lit phone screen,” he wrote.

Alamo Drafthouse spearheaded theatrical distribution of Sony Pictures’ embattled comedy The Interview after major theater operators canceled screenings due to alleged terrorist threats.

In his letter, AMC’s Aron said that while consumers have applauded the chain’s previous attempts to improve the moviegoing experience, management has “heard loud and clear” that texting during a movie is a bad idea.

“In this age of social media, we get feedback from you almost instantaneously and as such, we are constantly listening. Accordingly, just as instantaneously, this is an idea that we have relegated to the cutting room floor.”

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