Last Friday during a screening of RUBBER at the Ritz, there was a group of patrons in the theater who were talking and being disruptive during the film. Three conscientious patrons raised flags to complain about the talkers, yet the talkers were not thrown out and the problem persisted throughout the film.
First off, let me say to anyone whose moviegoing experience was disrupted, I am truly sorry. I cannot abide people talking during the movie and personally developed our system that is supposed to stop this from happening. Last Friday, this system failed. I am now taking this time to reflect on our policy and make some improvements to see if we can do a better job.
Here’s what currently happens. If there is a loud group of patrons in the theater disrupting the show, a customer can raise an order card to alert staff to the problem. The complaint is delivered right away to management who then comes into the theater to listen and identify the talkers. If they hear talking, they issue a warning, something to the effect of “we have had complaints from the other customers, if we receive one more complaint, we will have to ask you to leave.” If there is a second complaint, the manager again enters the theater and waits to hear talking. If they do hear talking again from the same group, we kick them out. That’s been the system for a long time, and we have quieted and/or kicked out hundreds of groups over the years for being disruptive.
Upon reflection of our failure to quiet the group of talkers on last Friday, however, I am hereby changing the policy company-wide.
1) We will retrain the entire Alamo staff. If a customer has to raise an order card about a loud and disruptive table, then we have already failed to a certain extent. The first change is going to be a retraining of all waitstaff to charge them with being the ones to be on the lookout for rude talkers or texters. If they spot people texting or talking, they must notify the manager at once.
2) A staff member shall be in the theater at all times during peak shows. As soon as the initial wave of food orders are all delivered, we will now require a staff member to be in the theater at all times during peak shows. This is good for two reasons. Hopefully this will both shrink the time from customers raising a food/drink order card until it gets picked up as well cut down on overall talking and texting in the theater. A monitored classroom is more orderly; the same will likely be the case in the theater.
3) Once there is a customer complaint, a manager or manager’s representative will stay in the theater for the duration of the film. Sometimes the manager will stay in the theater after a complaint and that presence alone with quiet a talker. Sometimes we issue a warning to the offending talkers that works for about 15 minutes, but then they slip right back into talking. Once there is a first complaint, the manager will now stay in the theater for the duration of the film and catch any recidivism as soon as it happens.
My hope is these three refinements to our system will fix the problem. We know that our hard-line policy towards movie-talkers is one of the reasons people like to come to the Alamo in the first place. It is one of our founding principles, and all of our locations need to live up to your expectations. Bear with us for the next couple of weeks as we do some additional training and get our managers up to speed with the new policies. Hopefully in very short order we will cure the problem and last Friday’s experience will not be repeated.
And to the jackasses that ruined Rubber for the rest of the audience last Friday at the Ritz, change your ways or stay at home. Rude talkers are not welcome at the Alamo.
Founder and CEO
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema