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Cinema chain set to allow texting

BBC News BBC News 15/04/2016
A woman texting in a cinema © Thinkstock A woman texting in a cinema

One of the largest cinema chains in the US is considering letting customers use their mobile phones during films.

People taking a selfie in the cinema: Would 'cinema selfies' encourage new visitors or irritate existing customers? © Thinkstock Would 'cinema selfies' encourage new visitors or irritate existing customers?

AMC chief executive Adam Aron said he wanted to encourage so-called millennials to visit the cinema.

He told Variety magazine: "You can't tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That's not how they live their life."

But he said he would have to find a solution that did not disturb other movie-goers.

AMC operates almost 400 cinemas in the United States, with more than 5,000 screens. The chain also has a UK multi-screen complex in Manchester.

In February the firm announced its intention to buy rival Carmike, which will make it the largest cinema chain in the US.

But Mr Aron said young adults today were not visiting the cinema as much as their parents did when they were young.

"We need to reshape our product in some concrete ways so that millennials go to movie theatres with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theatres throughout their lives," he explained.

Many cinemas display messages before films asking people to switch off their mobile devices.

Mr Aron suggested that allowing mobile phone use during a film might appeal to young adults.

"When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don't ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow," he said.

But he admitted: "Today's movie-goer doesn't want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on.

"What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting-friendly."

Elaborating on comments on Twitter, he wrote: "If ever, we only would pursue in a way we'd be totally confident all our guests will fully enjoy movie-going experience."

The UK Cinema Association, which represents a majority of operators in the UK, said its members wanted audiences to enjoy the "immersive nature of the big screen experience" and said switching phones off helps to "avoid distracting others".

Vue UK said it discouraged audiences from using phones in the auditorium to avoid distracting others.

In 2003, a cinema in Ireland was told it broke the law by installing a signal blocker that prevented people using their devices.

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