Memo to AMC Theater Management:
Hey, guys, thanks for those new cell phone PSAs ‒ the ones using the Muppets and those cute flying apps.
They’re funny and creative. I love seeing Fozzie Bear talking on a banana as Miss Piggy shushes him.
One problem: The spots are next to useless.
After sitting through “Footloose” at one of your San Jose houses and watching cell phones pop on one after another like Christmas lights, I’d go further ‒ your new spots are not only useless, they encourage cell phone use during the movie by making a joke of the practice.
The thinking now among repeat offenders: If management thinks it’s funny, it’s obviously no big deal.
In other words, you’re contributing to a problem that’s grown to epidemic proportions and caused a noticeable drop in movie attendance.
What you should be doing is taking a tougher, less conciliatory stance, like the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin. Management there lays it out, plain and simple: “If you talk or text during a movie, we kick you out.”
And they do, as an angry voicemail — turned into a hilarious Drafthouse PSA — attests.
Why don’t you follow suit? I’ll tell you why. You’re afraid of offending your worst customers and losing their business. You’ve capitulated by accepting cell phones as a minor nuisance.
Worse, you’re in bed with the cell phone companies. That Kermit and Miss Piggy PSA, besides being a promo for Disney’s new Muppet movie, is brought to us by Sprint, the very folks who profit from cell phone use in theaters.
You need to get control of this problem. Fast. A while back the National Association of Theater Owners petitioned the FCC to follow France’s lead and block cell phone reception in theaters. That effort went nowhere as NATO yielded to pressure from special interest groups. Their tired argument: We need our cell phones with us at all times, in case of an emergency. Phone jammers, they also protested, infringe upon our First Amendment right to act like jerks in public.
If you want to do something worthwhile, AMC, scrub the lip-service PSAs and make your theaters no-reception zones. Sure, you’ll lose some customers. But you’ll win back better ones.