Friday, May 11, 2012

Michael Madsen's PSA for the Alamo Draft House

I'm not sure if you're aware of the huge cultural divide amongst movie theater patrons these days, so just in case, I'll break it down real quick. On one side, you have your older demographic and your movie theater purists - like myself and everyone else who writes for this site - who believe the theater is a sacred place, and there's a certain amount of courtesy and respect that should be shown, both towards the film and your fellow attendees. Because of that philosophy, we say leave the cell phones and tablets at home; it's not a time for socializing and laughing with your friends. But that being said, there's also this younger demographic that studies show prefer the allowance to text and "hangout" during a movie. They don't want to feel restricted as they're all now so used to being connected through their phones 24-hours a day. So the problem then becomes, should cell phone usage be allowed freely in theaters? For someone like you or me, this seems ridiculous and not even debatable. But for theater chains, it's not quite so easy. The problem here is that this younger demographic drives most ticket sales. And as they get older they'll control the market even more. So now chains are having to become more lenient towards the act as to not scare off potential customers. And theaters are already, unfortunately, struggling enough as it is. Principle vs. Profit.

Don't get me wrong, I understand what theater owners are dealing with. It's hard to fault them. At the end of the day, it is a business, and sometimes, even if you don't want to, you have to play to your markets.

But all of that being said, it's so nice when you see someone take a stance against all the shenanigans, and make very clear their position on the subject. The Alamo Draft House has become a sort of beacon for film-goers like myself, even though, geographically, I can't actually attend one right now. This small theater chain in central Texas has been very adamant about their demands for theater courtesy, even going so far as to kick a kid out for having his phone out during a movie - a situation that really sparked the entire debate.

Anyway, since the theater has so happily embraced the stance, they've been coming up with creative ways to show off and market their values. Below is the newest PSA for the theater, featuring Michael Madsen. This new ad will be played before every film that plays at the theater. And let me just say, I think it's fantastic! I wish more theaters would muster up the courage to demand the same.




"Don't talk or text during the movie, or Michael Madsen will strap you to a chair, cut off your ear and set you on fire." I love it!


Look, I can respect whichever viewpoint you have as long as you can make an educated defense for it. Personally, I just think it's the beginning of the end for movie theaters all around. You lift the gate on this, and where does it end? Eventually you scare off your devoted theater alums, and the youth is so unaware and uninterested in anything that they can't download or share on their phones that it's just a matter of time before they stop going to theaters, too. I just don't see any of it as a long-term win for anyone - though, it's hard for me to see much in terms of a long-term win for theater chains out there, regardless of this debate.

Honestly, if you get a quick text or something, and you want to respond, go for it. It's really not going to bother me. I don't actually need a black and white line on this matter, just one that leans a little more to the side of restrictions than freedoms (I feel like the oldest man in the world making that statement). I get how much most of us are attached to our phones. Sometimes there are just things we need to address. The problem comes when it's throughout the entire film - that's right, I'm talking to you old woman who was reading her ebook on her tablet right in front of me a few weeks ago! Surely that can't be a practice we embrace and allow freely. Who wins in that scenario?

What's your stance on this? I'd love to hear from both sides of this debate and hopefully get a educated discussion going.