Header image courtesy of Antonio Diaz (via Shutterstock)
We love going to the cinema, we really do. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience only possible within the four walls of a darkened auditorium, where you can fully immerse yourself in a film with little to no distraction. Unfortunately, when you throw strangers into the mix, there are unfortunate things that happen to whiplash you back into reality instantly. How many of these have you encountered recently?
Obviously, this is at the top of our list. We get it; the hectic life in Hong Kong has people working long hours and fiddling with their work even during leisure time. But for those busy bees scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and indulging in dedicated text sessions mid-film, surely you’re aware that your attempt to multi-task on your smartphones is distracting. In a pitch-black auditorium, an active phone screen is the brightest object in the entire solar system. To make matters worse, some even pick up and speak on their phones, treating the cinema like it’s their own living room. Why bother going to the movies at all?
We can’t think of a single cinema in Hong Kong that offers intermissions (though with the elaborate run times of many Hollywood blockbusters—cough, Lord of the Rings trilogy, cough—we think they should). When nature calls, you either have to sit in ever-growing discomfort or gamble on the best time to rush to the restroom without missing any of the good parts. Now, we think there’s a difference between a “normal” visit rate to the washroom—such as once throughout a two-hour film—and an excessive frequency.
If you’re watching an epic drama like Dunkirk in a theatre, it really does ruin the atmosphere when your neighbouring cinema-goer has to go to the toilet every half an hour, and you have to make way for them every single time. Our best suggestion for those who have a hard time holding it in: Maybe opt for an aisle seat next time or slow down on the soft drinks.
Whether they’re tapping their feet to the soundtrack or are overly exhilarated by the film that sitting still isn’t an option (not that we care), having someone continuously kicking your seat from behind is beyond annoying. While we don’t want to cause a fuss during the film, there is no polite way to tell them to stop.
And people, please keep your feet off of the other seats. Resting against the chairs in front of you or on the handles in between them may seem smart when you want to maximise the relaxation potential of the theatre, but not when your fellow cinema-goers have to sit in them. Your feet are a constant reminder that people need to adopt better cinema etiquette. So—feet off, please.
Bad cinema-goers seem to have a timely knack for cracking open a bag of crisps amid silent scenes without any dialogues or music score. We’re just as keen on delectable, crunchy nacho chips as you are, but maybe enjoy your treats quietly and keep rustling to a minimum. Especially during those dead silent horrors or art-house indie flicks, we can hear that you’re chewing with your mouth open—not a good look.
Picture this: You’re watching The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (oh, don’t judge) and the film arrives at the final climax of the battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines. The couple to your right, likewise, also get it on to a full-blown make-out session that involves sloppy smooching and other assorted, squelchy noise (we’re not even making this up). PDA is utterly unsettling to people around. Why pay $120 to go to a film when all you’re going to be watching is each other? Here’s some helpful advice for steamy couples: Just get a room already. Or ramp it up in front of the entire cinema so we can all be treated to a good show.
We’ve witnessed a mum bringing her five-year-old boy to the screening of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises—a sombre film that depicts a doom-shrouded Gotham, where urban terrorism and class warfare is gradually ripping the imaginary city apart. All we can ask is: why? Perhaps it’s the fact that the film is loosely based on DC Comics’ Batman that drove the logic of, “Maybe my son will love to see a comic adaptation.”As you can guess, the kid cried and yelled almost throughout the entire film.
Now, parents, if you want to entertain the little ones, we’re sure that they would rather engage with something more age-appropriate, even when it comes to precocious younglings. There’s nothing wrong with a G-rated animation, although they may not be as thrilling for you. Isn’t this the perfect time to sneak in a nap? Just imagine how everyone else might feel in an auditorium with screaming children. In other words, horrors, thrillers, and PG-13 blockbusters are out of the question.
Yes, there exists a unique breed of cinema-goers who seem to feed on the perverse joy of ruining experiences for others by offering mid-film spoilers. It’s that guy sitting across from you—a hardcore Marvel fan who has already seen Avengers: Endgame several times over—who just cannot help himself and has to delight everyone with his unsolicited insider knowledge on what we can expect to see as the film progresses.
First of all, no one wants to hear your pithy insights when they’re trying to enjoy a film. And second, please, no plot spoilers! No plot spoilers! No. Plot. Spoilers! This important message has to be reiterated three times for those with a particularly incurable spoiler habit.
One of our editors had Avengers: Endgame spoiled for her, even though she attended an 11 am screening on opening day. How, you ask? She was caught in the washroom with a duo of inconsiderate cinema-goers who had caught an even earlier show that morning and decided to openly talk about it as they groomed themselves after the screening. Just save the chat until you’ve left the cinema and don’t ruin films for others.
It must be a case of Murphy’s Law, but we always seem to draw the short end of the stick and find ourselves sandwiched in-between the most enthusiastic chatterboxes in the whole cinema. Whether they are providing running commentary on every plot twist that occurs, or openly analysing the screenplay’s nuances, chatterboxes almost always guarantee that you miss at least 25 percent of what’s going on, as you’ll be spending way too much time and effort straining to make out the on-screen dialogue through their endless gabbing.