The 10 commandments for attending the theatre and cinema

  1. As soon as the trailers are over, shut up. The company logos are often accompanied by a soundtrack that someone worked hard on. This is usually to establish the atmosphere that’ll define the rest of the cinema experience. Same thing with the establishing scenes of a play or musical. Phantom of the Opera opens on a quiet scene, but that’s because it’s BUILDING AN ATMOSPHERE! So, please shut up.
  2. No one cares what you have to say or especially, sing. If you have trivia on a certain scene or love a song in a musical, great! Save it for the post show discussion with your mates or karaoke. No noise should be coming from your mouth.
  3. Similarly, quiet moments in films/shows are not an excuse to start talking. Often, they’re the most tense moments and hearing about ‘how good you think this is’ or asking, ‘wasn’t he in x…?’ murders the mood for everyone else.
  4. It’s depressing to even need to reinforce this, but never, EVER, use your phone. It’s so selfish. If you’re so addicted to your phone that you can’t go the length of a show or movie without checking it, maybe you shouldn’t be there. Don’t ruin the experience for everyone else by sitting there with an illuminated crotch.
  5. Laugh when it’s appropriate to laugh. Don’t be stupid. Comedies are funny, yes. What isn’t funny, is you repeating the joke. I heard it the first time. And you’re not a professionally trained actor (probably – sorry if you are).
  6. Pick your moments to pick at your food. As in commandment two, if it’s a tense or tender moment, please don’t shove your hand into your popcorn and add a nice ‘rustling’ sound to the scene. I doubt that was on the sound designer’s agenda.
  7. Horror films are scary. Yep, that’s the idea. You can flinch at a jump-scare without howling at the screen in terror (yes, I’ve seen this happen).
  8. Getting up to leave the theatre/cinema. This one is more aimed at the theatre, but there’s nothing more immersion-killing, than having to stand to let some idiot who downed a bottle of Fanta pre show, to pass six times per performance.
  9. Don’t rest your feet up against my chair. If I want a deep tissue, I’ll pay for one.
  10. Don’t bother turning up if you can’t abide by these commandments, which, let’s be fair; are all common sense and basic manners. If you are going to the cinema or theatre without investment and respect for what you’re watching, please don’t bother. There are people who do care and you’re ruining the experience for someone else.


  • Never be afraid to shush someone or ask them politely to stop if they’re disobeying any of the above. Unless they look like they might stab you, post show. Probably not worth the moral high ground at that point.
  • Some screenings encourage audience participation. When ‘The Room’ screens, for example, the audience are meant to shout quotes and plot holes at the screen. That’s fine.
  • Try to enforce these rules into your kids at an early age. However, kids film screenings require a little more leniency. They’re learning the ropes of manners, so don’t be an arse and shush a kid. If they’re super loud, just politely and discreetly let the parent know. They may sass back to remind you that you’re at a screening of ‘Toy Story 3’ though, so you may not have a leg to stand on.

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