In my last two cinema trips I have had disruptive people in the cinema.

One was a group of 4-5 early 20s men, one of whom in particular was talking very loudly. I stared at him until he looked back at me, and I did the international sign for "what the hell are you doing?" (holding your hands up in a sort of shrug with a scowl on my face) and he did it back to me sarcastically, and continued talking. This angered me, and I said loudly "If you want to have a conversation, *&!# off somewhere else and do it" which was met with threats of physical violence... but he did then shut up for the rest of the film.

Most recently this weekend there were people sat next to me and my wife who were on their phones a lot, not talking but mainly texting. The light from the phones was very distracting. About 10 minutes from the end of the film one got their phone out and wasn't even doing anything, he was just scrolling through pages of apps looking for something to do. This annoyed me and I said "Can you put your phone away please? The movie isn't finished yet" and all I got back from him was "Just watch the movie yeah? Don't worry about me on my phone". I replied "I'm trying to watch the movie but the light from your phone is very distracting", which was met with "just watch the movie". I protested some more and was met with deflection "you're raising your voice now just watch the movie yeah?". Ultimately I left it but it ruined the moviegoing experience for me.

Please bear in mind that there don't seem to be ushers in the theatre in UK cinemas anymore - at least there haven't been in the cinemas I've been in for the last 10 years or more.

My options seem to be either to leave the theatre, find an usher and report the behaviour, or to attempt to deal with it myself. I'm not keen on leaving the cinema to find an usher because a) That involves me missing part of the movie and b)The usher may not even do anything - even if they come into the theatre the person might not be on their phone anymore. This leaves me to try and deal with it myself.

Frankly the whole thing makes me not want to go to the cinema anymore. I feel like there's an increase in entitled behaviour which I've also encountered at music gigs. There seems to be an "I've paid for my ticket so I can do whatever I want" mentality and I suppose in a broader sense this is part of what I'd like to try and combat.

I'm aware that my previous approaches may not have been the best - how can I do better to quash this disruptive and annoying behaviour? My goal is to make people realise they're being disruptive to others and change their behaviour.

Edit: I've also contacted the cinema chain to ask for their input so I will update when I've got their position on it!


5 Answers 5


As an ex Usher (1 Year Ago or so) in a cinema in the United Kingdom, I would highly recommend briefly leaving the screen in order to tell an Usher. This will not be the first time they have had to deal with this kind of situation.

Even if the usher is unwilling to do anything, try to talk to a manager. We always had 2 managers on at one time and they are incredibly passionate about films and loathe people talking in screens.

In our Cinema, one of our key roles was to regularly check in each screen and we were responsible to check multiple things like volume, temperature, people recording the film and also disruptive people. You may even notice them if you are looking for them however generally we tried to be as quiet as possible when entering.

The manager of the Cinema has every ability to ask someone to leave and / or threaten to call the Police if they are being disruptive so I would highly reccomend speaking to someone.

I know this wont apply to all cinemas and also has the negative impact of you leaving the screen for a couple of minutes however I personally would rather that then have the whole screening ruined for you and anyone else in there because some people cannot be quiet.

Once when I managed a screen, someone came and complained about a group of teenage boys talking in the back of the screen. My manager instructed me to litterally sit in the closest seat to them that was empty and just stay there for the whole film. There was a seat right next to them and they were quiet for the rest of the film.

Also a side note about mobile phones : Most cinemas wont allow phones usage within a screen whilst it is showing for anti Piracy reasons as well as the light being very irritating.


Yeah, it's unfortunate people behave this way.

However, reading what you've written it sounds like you might initiate those encounters with an angry or annoyed tone. While you have every right to feel that way, maybe try to approach people more calmly and politely. Just ask them, as calm as a Buddhist monk, "Excuse me, would you mind turning off your cell phone? The light is distracting me." Assume they're decent, well meaning people who lack self-awareness.

If you approach someone angrily (even if it's very subtle), people have a tendency to dig their heels in and refuse in order to save face. If you're super calm and polite about it, sometimes they go out of their way to help you.

However, if you try this approach and people are still rude -- you're right, people suck. :) It's worth a try though.


If the disruptive person is within whispering distance, often a polite but firm "can you please be careful of your language / put the phone away / turn down the volume" suffices. I recently had to do this myself with a fellow cinema-goer who found a particular plot twist quite shocking (I'm in the UK too). If they ignore your request or are too far away, this is the time to find an usher. The longer you leave them, the more they will think they can get away with their disruptive actions. Unfortunately, inconsiderate people like this are perfectly aware that you have no legal power to MAKE them comply and will assume you will not pursue it further. Equally unfortunately, it's always a gamble going to the cinema if we end up near one of these people.

Theatres may not always have one usher per theatre, but there will be some staff member available somewhere who can deal with the problem. Cinema staff are (or should) be trained to resolve these problems. If they really cannot get rid of the disruptive presence due to improper training or it taking you too long to find a staff member, you might be able to argue for a refund or a free chance to watch the movie again. Beyond this, there is little you can do.


I often encounter a similar situation where people are talking when they're not supposed to. I will attempt to draw an analogy between my situation and yours.

I prefer to study in silence, as I am easily detracted and often processing highly technical material. As such, I place myself on a silent floor of my school's library. There are signs everywhere that say "silence, respect others," but to some people silence means whisper.

How I Deal With It:

1) I relax and give the people talking a moment. If I enter this interaction with resentment or a sense of self-righteousness, even if I am totally in the right, I may not achieve my end goal, which is silence.

2) "Shhhhhh" is the next step. Often, others on the floor will back me up with some of their own "shhhh"s, indicating to the people talking that a collective finds their behavior unacceptable. I repeat this a few times until I feel that it is having no effect. This is usually as far as it goes.

3) I get up, walk over to the people talking, and address them politely along the lines of "I would really appreciate it if you took your collaborative work to a different floor." Remember, people hate being told what to do! Much more so when it comes from someone they see as their equal.

4) If this fails, the final step is to go down to the front desk and speak with one of the staff. I have never had to go this far, but the culmination is having someone with authority ask the talkers to be quiet.

What's Different in Your Situation

I'm in a study context. People are stressed, and may have a word occasionally to decompress or discuss work. As such, the people in my situation are more receptive to my needs and requests. In your situation, however, it is socially accepted that talking is taboo, meaning that the person talking is actively ignoring the needs of others. Simply, they're more likely to be a jerk. In such a case step (3) may be unadvised, as it could lead to the outcome you described. More likely, a combination of steps (2) and (4) may lead to the most direct resolution of the problem. If you have reached step (4), and have to exit the theater to find an employee to tell the talkers to be quiet, I would also request a refund as your enjoyment of the movie (your primary goal) is probably pretty shot.

I think step (1) is still useful, as it will reduce the adrenaline produced in steps (2) and (3) and allow you to salvage more enjoyment from the negative situation.


  • Remember, your primary goal is to enjoy the movie. Act calmly and this is most likely to be achieved. Avoid abrasive behavior!
  • If shhh-ing fails, just get an employee to remove the talking people, request your money back, and leave.
  • Generally I would not 'shh' someone as a lot of the time, if someone for example is whispering to a friend which irritates you and the people around you and you respond with a 'shh', generally people who may not of heard the initial comments by the offender will probably hear the 'shh' as it is quite a harsh sound and a lot of people will do it loudly. If repeated 'shh' will definitely irritate other people and will be entirely counterproductive. Commented May 2, 2018 at 13:54

When we go to the cinema it is to watch the movie - and in order to watch this properly, the lights are turned off. Also the sound is amplified for our pleasure.

As well as providing this atmosphere and of course the film itself, the Cinema Chain also has a duty of care to ensure that movie goers are not also trying to cram their other activities into the visit, with no consideration for the rest of the viewers.

Plainly, your argument is with the Cinema Chain - Definitely not the trouble makers. Soewhere out there there is a Manager sitting down doing his nails - for what else do you need to do once the auditorium is full?

What else is looking after his customers that is what because he is paid to do it. Next time, quietly go to the Manager and ask for the removal of the offenders. They need not know who you are at all. If he fails to sort the problem then raise a customer complaint, asking for the correct procedure for a written complaint.

Simply if the Cinema do not have a proper set of rules for the behaviour of the cinema goers - it is their problem and not yours. Do not get involved with these people personally - that is the thing that you never ever do. You have paid for a service - so make sure that you get it. Plenty of the others will support you or the manager if he has to eject the trouble makers.

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