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Theater will encourage cellphone use

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, the manager of a new concert and theater venue apparently believes.

By Karen Datko Nov 28, 2011 4:42PM

When we had a recent post about whether cellphones should be banned in movie theaters, we got plenty of comments like this:

I am sick and tired of seeing the bright light on the phone when someone is texting. There was a stupid teen who kept texting her friend when I went to see Shrek the musical. It was aggravating and if she didn't want to be there, she should have stayed home.

Cellphones are banned in some theaters but they won't be in the Tateuchi Center when it opens in Bellevue, Wash., in 2014. The theater, with a 2,000-seat concert hall and a smaller venue, will be "encouraging patrons to send texts and update their Twitter and Facebook accounts to their heart's content," The New York Times reports. It will even have a special in-house antenna and may distribute tiny screens to dim phone lights.

 

We heard about it on NPR this morning. "Resistance is futile," Renee Montagne said.

 

Loud conversations -- or any, perhaps -- won't be permitted. Hopefully patrons will have the sense not to give the plot twists of plays away. 

 

John Haynes, theater executive director, told the Times that mobile access will be welcomed by the people -- hipper, younger types -- the theater hopes to attract. Post continues below.

"That's a reference to Bellevue's legions of technology geeks, many of whom work at nearby companies such as Microsoft, Expedia and InfoSpace," GeekWire explains.

 

Is this what we can look forward to, as mobile devices become more integral in our lives?

 

Notably, Fandango has a new app that gains you access to the movie theater simply by swiping your phone. "Mobile Ticket is launching at select Regal Theater screens across the country just in time for the release of 'Breaking Dawn,'" Mashable says. Leaving it on inside the theater sounds like a next logical step to some.

 

Said one commenter at GeekWire:

This is great news for the connected! Cell phone coverage inside Benaroya Hall is appallingly bad. Most of my texts are undeliverable, which harms my engagement with the performance. I'm glad Bellevue is embracing technological progress.

Another said, in part, "this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard of."

 

Is Renee Montagne right? Is this the unavoidable wave of the future or simply an isolated bad idea?

 

More on MSN Money:

14Comments
Nov 29, 2011 7:42PM
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Yeah, great.  Go ahead and promote rude, "it's-all-about-me" behavior.  I avoid movie theaters already.  Garbage like this just gives me another reason.  I text just like everyone else, but not when it might annoy other people.  Passing gas is "integral in our lives" too.  Guess I can go ahead and do that if I go to a theater. 
Dec 1, 2011 9:24AM
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If people can't take a break from texting for a couple hour movie, then I feel sorry for them.  I love technology, but why pay $8-12 or more just to sit there texting throughout a movie?  If that's all you're going to do, go do it somewhere else for free and let those who want a break from the hectic day to have that break in peace.  Even those who are on-call for their jobs are not going to be on-call 24/7.  They can go to the movies when they are not on-call.  There really is not a good reason to text while watching a movie at a theater.  IF something important comes up, just go out into the hall and take care of it.  Of course, that requires a person to be considerate of others and we stopped teaching that 20+ years ago.
Dec 1, 2011 9:45AM
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They're not "embracing technology"...they're giving a thumbs up to rudeness.
Dec 1, 2011 9:41AM
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There is a simple solution.  Its called a cell phone blocker and it blocks all cell signals withing a certain radius.  If theaters and even restaurants set up "cell free"  area where incoming and outgoing calls could not happen, I think people that want to enjoy an evening out and alone would embrace these businesses.  Even churches could employ this technology.
Dec 1, 2011 8:29AM
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Right on Moneyhawk!  Next thing businesses need to do is accommodate and encouage rude behavior from customers and patrons.  That way, they are allowing customers to be who they are without restrictions and feed the ME ego....because it's all about me unless it's about taking responsibility for ones actions; then it's about YOU.

 

Bright decision there. 

Dec 1, 2011 11:31AM
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yes... go ahead and attract the younger hipper crowd...and encourage cell use.

You'll also drive away any responsible people who want to come to a movie.

 

it'll end up a drama ridden trashy place...

 

you might as well just open up a teen club with free wifi, charge admission

 and have a big screen tv playing.

you'll get the same results

Dec 1, 2011 11:06AM
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"blocking all cell phones within a radius doesnt sound very smart, what if there is an emergency?"

 

You do what people did for the past 50-100 years or more.  You let people know where you are going and they can simply call the theatre to let them know there is an emergency.  Its this entire self important generation that gets me.  Facebook, cell phones.  People tweet their daily lives like anyone really gives a crap.  I think I can safely say that 99.9999 to the infintesmal phone calls or texts people get are stupid stuff (hey how you doing, oh yea, just watching a movie) kind of calls.  I'd bet that maybe 1 in a million calls are "emergency" calls.  And yes, they do make blockers that can block signals within so much of a radikus of the person who carries the blocker.  I highly advocate their usage in places such theatres.  Of course, those who still end up texting, nothing like an "accidental" dropping of your soft drink to soak them to get them to leave the theatre.  That works like a charm. 

Dec 1, 2011 10:58AM
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I'm in this "connected" demo and I can tell you that my peers like the Geekwire poster  who have to text in order to be engaged with a performance aren't there to see a show  - it's all about the act of going so they can blog about it. Nerds will be nerds I guess.

 

The lights from phones are annoying and distracting - which harms MY engagement.

Dec 1, 2011 9:12AM
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I would love it if someone could explain this to me.  How does texting or having your texts not be delivered harm "engagement in the performance" in any way shape or form.  I admit that I use technology but deplore the rudeness that it enables.  I wonder if this is not an attempt a humor or irony.  Any explanation is welcome.
Most of my texts are undeliverable, which harms my engagement with the performance.
Dec 1, 2011 11:38AM
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Unfortunately cell blockers are illegal in the U.S.  I looked into it because I am so tired of listening to people talking on their phone in stores and restaurants.  Basically everywhere I go now.  It is annoying and inconsiderate, and completely unnecessary. 

I would display my blocker proudly on the end of my table if they were legal.
Dec 1, 2011 12:12PM
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If they open one of these theaters in my area I definitely know I will never go there but then they don't want my business anyway since I am not part of the younger, hipper crowd.  I wonder what the performers will think knowing that the crowd is texting and not really paying attention to their performance but I guess it will cut down on rehearsals since nobody will realize if the performance is bad since they are not paying attention anyway.
Dec 1, 2011 2:00PM
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I think cell phones should be banned everywhere.  This encourages rude behavior and chances are, this is going to backfire.  I might as well take my laptop to the theatre also.  Bring your IPads and your Kindle Fires.  I feel sorry for the performers.  Why put in that effort when no one cares?
Dec 1, 2011 3:05PM
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Put them in their own section problem solved..but honestly business don't care about anything other than seperating people from their money and more young people wil go to the movies than older so they are just simply trying to attract the most young people they can.

 

Dec 1, 2011 10:55AM
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blocking all cell phones within a radius doesnt sound very smart, what if there is an emergency?
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