I was listening to the We Hate Movies podcast mailbag episode this morning as I was brushing my teeth, and a story was shared that concerned unruly customers and assigned seating in movie theaters. It’s a great story, and I love the guys at WHM, but I have to say, I agree with Eric Szyszka that sometimes assigned seating is more of a pain than it is good.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I do love being able to stroll into a movie right as the previews are ending, knowing that my seat is secure. Due to NYC subways being built upon lies, there are always delays, traffic, and other things that can turn a 30-minute commute to a 45-minute one—especially if you’re in a rush.
However, many times I have noticed that assigned seating has also limited many people’s sense of propriety in terms of arriving on time for the movie itself. Because the urgency to get a seat is gone, I’ve watched people come in after the movie has already started, phone-flashlights on and blocking the entire screen. Now, I get it; stuff happens, and sometimes you’re late, but showing up to a film 15 minutes deep, with all your snacks in-hand and loudly disrupting everyone’s experience, is a pain.
And there is almost always a situation where someone is sitting in somebody else’s seat. Rather than this being a simple switch, it now becomes an entire conga line of people having to switch over and over again until everyone is in their proper place. This is not only obnoxious, but it’s distracting from the movie that we all paid to see if it’s going on after the main event has begun.
That’s especially so when it’s a “big” movie like Midsommar or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Avengers: Endgame. You want to be able to pay attention to the film because you know that you’ll have to debate everyone on the internet for clout, and how can you do it with someone standing in the middle of the screen fighting with someone about who has the right to an assigned seat? For the opening two weeks of a big movie, I absolutely get the point of an assigned seat. Still having assigned seating for Ma nearly two months after it’s come out? What is the point of that?
Frequent moviegoers, how has assigned seating affected your film experience? Are you enjoying being able to cruise in after the previews, or have you sighed one too many times watching people fight over a seat?
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