Alan Dee: A ban on supersized cinema drinks? It’s only a start

It’s all very well for the government to be planning a ban on cinemas serving supersized fizzy drinks as part of a crackdown on the causes of obesity, but it doesn’t go far enough.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th February 2013, 7:19 am

I very rarely go to the cinema these days and it’s nothing to do with the films, it’s the people.

Now I’ve got no objection to movie multitasking – I can quite happily tuck into supper on a tray while watching my chosen feature in the privacy of my own home. I might even have a glass of wine.

But I don’t expect other paying customers to put up with it, and the sounds of scoffing are just one of the everyday irritations that cinemas ought to be stamping out.

Talking is a no-no, as far as I am concerned. Whispered enquiries about who is doing what and why, or what that bloke was in with that other woman, are bad enough.

But what really gets my goat are the people who seem to think it’s entirely appropriate to have complete conversations about anything other than what’s playing out on the screen in front of them.

And conversations between two punters in the same cinema are only part of the problem – what about the phone junkies who can’t bear to turn off their lifelines at the door?

They’ll take a call, they’ll make a call, and even if they turn the ringtone to mute you’ll be constantly irritated by the glowing screen in the row in front as its owner maintains contact with friends, family and unknown social network followers for the duration.

Multiplex movie venues have enough screens at their disposal that they could easily set aside a proportion for the sole use of customers who are prepared to promise that they won’t use their phones, won’t slurp giant drinks, won’t rustle sweet papers and chomp confectionery, and won’t offend others with the stale stink of their popcorn.

A quiet screen might bite into the huge margins the cinema operators make on drinks and snacks, but it would draw disaffected moviegoers back to the box office.

Those with long memories will recall the days when every film was projected onto the big screen through a fug of smoke because virtually everyone in the audience was puffing away.

Then smokers began to be corralled into specific areas, or expected to go outside if they wanted to light up.

The same progress when it comes to feeding your face would produce similar dividends, and while a single quiet screen would be a start, it wouldn’t be long before it was the chompers and the chatters who were in the minority, and expected to make do with a filthy, smelly, noisy auditorium set aside for them and their kind while the rest of us were able to relax and watch the movie in blessed peace and quiet.