[UPDATE BELOW] Movie ticket sales are down. This has been the case for some time now, and experts attribute a lot of factors to the decline—high ticket prices, Netflix, bedbugs, the golden age of television, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. But one savvy multiplex executive says it's those silly texting millennials who are killing the cinema industry, and he's got the solution—"mobile friendly" theaters!
AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron sat down with Variety this week to discuss plans to revitalize the industry, and when asked if he was targeting any "particular demographics," he said he was paying attention to millennials. "We need to reshape our product in some concrete ways so that millennials go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives," he told the site.
This, of course, is fair. Millennials grew up with way more options for movie-watching than their parents—we had VCRs, HBO, DVRs, and DVDs as kids, and now we're laden with legal and illegal streaming options that will show us movies at-will. It is harder to lure us into theaters than it was to lure in our parents. So what can the industry offer us? Cheaper tickets? Better popcorn? Fewer films based on Nicholas Sparks novels?
The bad news is, it appears all the millennials Aron has met are jerks, and he is convinced we're steering clear of theaters because of their draconian cell phone policies. “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,” he told Variety. “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.”
It is true that 22-year-olds are awful, but it seems unfeasible to me that the crippling fear of spending a few hours sans phone is what's keeping people in their 20s out of theaters. Movies are expensive. I spent $16 to see that crappy James Bond movie because my viewing partner INSISTED it was better than Skyfall. It was not. I could have gotten a fancy cocktail for $16. I could have eaten 5 bagels for $16. I could have taken a taxi for $16.
Back when movies were only $7 it wasn't a huge deal to take a chance on Batman & Robin, but I'd rather save nearly $20 for other pursuits than see Batman vs. Superman. That is not to say that I won't spend money on movies I really want to see, like Star Wars, Spotlight, and Zootopia (yes Zootopia is ADORABLE) but why waste money on some overblown masturbatory CGI-fest when I could get drunk instead?
But though I find Aron's proposal insulting, this sadly isn't one-sided, and I have a plea. Millennials, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop feeding into all the dumb stereotypes we've been slapped with by the Olds. Do not text during a movie. Do not scroll through Instagram during a movie. Do not send Snapchats during a movie. Do not let the warm, REM cycle-ruining glow of your iPhone disturb all the strangers and bedbugs with whom you share this cinematic experience. Unless there is some sort of emergency (i.e. imminent death, not a Facebook notification) you can wait three hours to check your phone. Please do not provide the Daily News any fodder for ledes like "Because turning off your phone for two hours seems like an impossible task to millennials..." The Daily News can go fuck itself.
Anyway, it's unclear if and when these theaters full of texters will become a reality, and maybe it won't be so bad if and when they do. But if older generations could stop characterizing millennials as self-absorbed tech-addicted idiots—and if the younger generation could stop proving to older folks that we are indeed comprised of self-absorbed tech-addicted idiots, the world would be a better place, and I a happier person. As I am a millennial, that is obviously all that matters.
— Rebecca Fishbein (@bfishbfish) April 14, 2016
Update 4/15: It appears AMC Entertainment has heard the Internet's plea to keep movie theaters phone-free:
NO TEXTING AT AMC. Won't happen. You spoke. We listened. Quickly, that idea has been sent to the cutting room floor. pic.twitter.com/JR0fo5megR
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) April 15, 2016