What’s worse than sitting next to someone using a phone during a movie? If you're a millennial, it's having to wait until the film is over to pull out your device—at least that’s the opinion of Adam Aron, the new CEO of AMC Entertainment.
According to Variety, Aron—who will soon become head of the world’s largest movie theater operator when AMC’s proposed merger with Carmike goes through—says he has considered letting theatergoers use their mobile devices during film screenings. That way, young people with smartphones will want to attend more movies.
“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,” Aron told Variety. “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s now how they live their life.”
Don’t worry, your local AMC auditorium won’t be transforming into a lawless land of glowing lights and bleeping electronics anytime soon. Aron acknowledges that his company needs to figure out a way to allow texting that doesn’t disrupt audiences.
While certain “texting-friendly” theater sections haven’t been entirely ruled out, a sea of bright screens would undoubtedly distract audience members. “What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting-friendly," Aron says.
Some film lovers are outraged by this plan. Backlash against Aron’s millennial-targeted scheme prompted the CEO to tweet that he knows the vast majority of his audience “wants no texting.” If AMC did ever allow phones, they would only do so if they were "TOTALLY confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy movie going experience at AMC," he added.
As Deadline pointed out, this isn’t the first time theater executives have toyed with the idea of making movie theaters phone-friendly. In 2012, Greg Foster, senior executive vice president of IMAX Corporation, made a similar pro-phone argument while speaking on a panel at the annual CinemaCon convention.
"We want [millennials] to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie,” Foster said. “But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.” The banning of cell phones might cause young movie-goers to “feel a little handcuffed,” he said.