Matt Heath: Five movie watching rules - break them at your peril

Publish Date
Monday, 27 August 2018, 10:23AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Some New Zealanders shouldn't be allowed to go to the movies. They can't be trusted. They don't know the rules.

Humans are social. We love being around each other. We pay to see movies in a crowd when we could be watching at home alone. It's somehow more meaningful to go on a cinematic journey with 200 others.

But we don't go along to listen to mid-movie chatter, to smell others' smells or get blinded by their cell phones.

Last week I took my kids to The Meg. They love a creature feature.

Sadly the audience was packed with punishers. It got me thinking about movie etiquette. Do people not know the rules or are they just being selfish?

I've listed below the film watcher's honour code, in the hopes of making things clear for everyone. Five iron clad movie rules as old, respected and solid as time itself.

1 Open your packets of junk food in the loud bits not the quiet bits, you spoon.

At The Meg the other night two large boned ladies sat down beside us. They were carrying more food than any human needs. Then proceeded to open packets of crisps and lollies throughout the entire movie. It was so bloody noisy.

Their disgusting popcorn munching sounds were even worse. It's not like either of them were in danger of starvation. Great New Zealanders take a couple of minutes off the feedbag and wait for the loud bits at the movies.

2 Gasp, scream and laugh when you need to, otherwise shut up.

If you really need to talk to your friends in a movie (which you don't), whisper. No one paid to hear your opinion. No one including your friends cares that you've been before and know what's happening next.

The only permitted noises are laughing in the funny bits and gasping or screaming in the scary bits. Your discussions about what you are doing after the film were not included in the ticket price. Great New Zealanders shut the hell up at the flicks.

3 Your phone is a torch so don't be a selfish so-and-so.

Only a psycho would turn a torch on in a movie. Yet that's exactly what you're doing when you text. The problem is simple. Movies are long and most New Zealanders are addicted to their phones. A dude beside me at Antman and the Wasp must have lit up his woundingly bright screen 25 times . He wasn't checking in to see if his mum was okay in hospital or checking on an important business deal. He was looking at Instagram, mainly bikini pix. If you need to check your phone that often, don't go to the movies. You're too addicted.

The only light we paid to see is the stuff bouncing off the screen. Great New Zealanders leave their phones in their pockets for the full duration.

4 Don't turn up stinky and definitely don't make additional smells.

At Mission Impossible a few weeks back a young gentleman with a horrific case of body odour sat near us. But that wasn't all, mid movie he started adding additional smells to the mix. Unless the smell you're expelling fits the plot exactly, keep it to yourself. Great New Zealanders don't stink up the cinema.

5 Don't let the sods get you down.

If you're getting punished by your fellow movie goers you have three choices. Say something, say nothing or say nothing then sit fuming for the rest of the movie. The last option is the worst. If you're not going to say something, find a way to zone into the movie. If you're not willing to fight the offender, don't get obsessed. You've paid your money, get what you can out of the film.

It's easy to take it personally. To get vengeful. But usually the rudeness is not directed at you, these people are just too stupid to know the rules.

New Zealanders love being around each other. Sharing the joy of a movie with a crowd of strangers is one of life's great pleasures.

But you have to stick to the code. I think we can agree, people who break the rules should be dragged out and spanked, pants down next to the ticket counter where everyone can see.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.