So last weekend Tay and I went to see Spiderman – we ended up going to see it at the theater in Brampton because it’s half the price of the other theatres. As a result of this reduced pricing, the theatre was pretty busy – and the theatre we were in was filled with a bunch of kids – mostly 6 and up. I kind of groaned when I saw the kids there but got over it pretty quickly – it is Spiderman and he’s a huge fad right now, so we had to expect a high-kid turnout. And that’s the deal with afternoon matinees as opposed to evening matinees. And for the most part, I don’t mind kids in the theatres as long as they know to behave themselves and understand that they’re not the only ones in the theatre, that there are other people trying to enjoy the show as well. This brings me to my top-three child-related grievances at the movies, which are as follows:

1) Kids who talk loudly during the movies. More specifically, kids who get bored during emotional/intense/sensitive parts of a film and then declare that they are ‘bored’.

 

2) Kids who can’t sit still for 120 minutes and fidget – usually in the form of drumming their feet against the back of the seat in front of them; therefore disturbing the patron in front of them.

 

3) Kids who are too young to be at movies that are not intended for their age group.

And while these grievances are child-related they are not neccesarily child-caused – more specifically the party responsible for said greivances are the parents that bring their kids to the theatre but don’t bother to teach their children how to behave properly. When we went to see Spiderman last weekend I was stuck in front of a kid who would sporadically kick the back of my seat. And a couple of times, I turned my head to let them know that I was bothered but I never once heard a parent disciplining the child not to kick my seat. And I remember a few years ago we went to see a special screening of The Exorcist and there was a birthday party of kids sitting 3 rows in front of us, the ages ranging anywhere from 8-14 years old. And of course the maturity of the movie was totally lost on them, and there reactions to the film made it very clear that they should not have been in the theatre.

And then, is there anything more frustrating than paying $14 to see a movie only to have a baby cry through half of it?

I do believe that some responsibility needs to lay on the theatres of course – it’s a little too easy that they hide behind the classification of certain films and allow parents to make the decision about what their kids should or shouldn’t see. This “if accompanied by an adult” rule takes care of any liability that the theatre might face but it doesn’t do much for looking out for the rest of their patrons. There should be a minimum age limit to children being permitted into the theatre – say three years old, or at least charge admission to try and deter parents from bringing their toddlers and babies. Renu and Jai often take both kids to the theatres and Jagrit, who is turning two next month, gets in for free. If the theatre charged admission for toddlers and for babies, I would expect that would change a lot of parents minds about taking their kids to the movies. They might make the right decision  to leave the child at home with a babysitter rather than paying the admission. I know of a couple with a baby who take turns going to the movies because they don’t have anyone to babysit and they won’t bring her along. Yes it means that they have to see the movie alone while the other stays at home with their child, but it also means that they are able to enjoy the movie without distraction and so are the other patrons in the theatre.

One might argue that the solution here is to not go during afternoon movies when kids are more likely to be present. But that doesn’t work for two reasons – the first being that you can still go to a movie in the evening and not be guaranteed that there won’t be kids there. The other is that afternoon movies are cheaper and an incentive for people going to the movies, and with ticket prices being what they are, it’s helpful to save a few dollars. Some of the theatres have tried to come up with a solution of offering screenings specifically for parents with babies – at Cineplex Odeon it’s called Stars & Strollers – and they offer kid-friendly features like diapers and change tables and lower volume levels. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

But in a perfect world, there would always be two screenings of a movie – one that allowed kids and another that restricted them. You could let your kid thump the seats and talk in a normal talking voice and cry throughout the whole thing and I’d be fine with that, because I’d be in the next theatre basking in the quiet. It would be ideal.

When we went to see Spiderman last week Renu had asked me earlier that day if I wanted to go see it with them – when I found out that they would be bringing Jagrit along, I very quickly declined. As much as I love Jagrit, I don’t believe that he’s old enough to go to the movies. I emphasized my feelings regarding the matter by then asking her to let me know what showtime they would be going to – she asked why and I replied so I would know not to go to that particular screening :).

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