It’s not hard to become a serial offender. It’s much harder to avoid becoming one. It’s hardest of all when your offence – serial, nearly serial, or otherwise – is Movie Rage.

I'M WATCHING A FILM! Pic: Marc McCormack

This is a seriously under-studied syndrome suffered by usually polite and self-effacing people who go to the movies to see a film.

Not to have lunch, morning or afternoon tea. To see a film.

The movie The King’s Speech is great. When I went just after Christmas it was full house for all sessions.

If he hasn’t already, actor Geoffrey Rush (who plays eccentric Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue) will inspire young actors to enter the profession confident that they just have to learn their craft and don’t have to commit their inheritance on perfectly capped, evenly matched, white teeth to make it in Hollywood.

At my screening, the woman next to me (and like airline seating, one is intimately close) waited until the screen ads and the movie trailers had finished and the film was rolling before producing a pasty from a brown paper bag which she settled down to enjoy for lunch.

I spent many dollars and overcame the fear of surgery to have a nose job to clear my sinuses and regain my sense of smell. There are times I wish I hadn’t. This was one of them.

My neighbour’s pasty lunch along with her friend on the other side stage whispering “that’s Guy Pearce” (playing King Edward VIII) made me wonder if these ladies were let out often. Or whether they should have been let out at all.

I can speak with some authority on the inconsideration of some movie goers.

In 2006 at the Cinemark Theatre in Kemah, Texas, I was arrested and charged with assault well into the screening of Brokeback Mountain.

Besides being a seriously dramatic piece, beautifully acted by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal along with others of note, the scenery high in the mountains was spectacular. You were there.

Until that is, my neighbour dug in her cavernous bag to take out her ringing mobile phone and answered the call.

Hardly assault in my view, just a tap on the shoulder.

The advice from a gracious Texas Ranger was that if I didn’t sign the citation (for assault on a complaint that “She invaded my personal space”) they had this little room with an iron door, and “We would have to put you in there ma’am and lock the door”.

I signed, and it was then I discovered the incredible power and speed of the internet.

Moviegoers around the world rose en masse to reveal just how much anger they hold for those who eat, drink and chat throughout movie screenings.

My incident touched such a collective nerve that the response to just one article that appeared following a short telephone interview by then-Los Angeles-based Australian journalist Nick Papps resounded within hours around the world.

ABC Radio National’s movie program even came in to bat, saying “Movietime would like to congratulate Pauline Clayton who was charged with assault and fined $US150 in a Texas court after she tried to shush a local woman talking on her mobile phone during a screening of Brokeback Mountain.”

But it was on the internet that the movie-going public went ballistic. Thousands of people commented. Many offered funds for my legal defence.  Others apologised for the rudeness of one of their own.

The incident even made the American Arts Journal and The College Hill Independent, along with Amazing Crimes, detailing Australians who have committed crimes overseas.
I’m in Phone Fury along with Russell Crowe.

If the lady enjoying her lunch during The King’s Speech could comprehend the global loathing of anyone who eats, slurps, chats and ignores the “personal space” of those around them during a theatre performance, she would be afraid.

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    • Ben in Canberra says:

      11:09am | 22/01/11

      Jesus, grow up! The world isn’t your personal oyster! The woman eating her lunch paid for the ticket just the same as you did, and yet you chide her for having the audacity to enjoy the film in the way she wants to? Is she standing in front of you hindering your view of the screen? No. Is she poking you with a stick and distracting you? No. The only reason you’ve provided as to why she has ruined your experience is your ultra sensitive nasal cavity!

      Reality is on the phone, will you accept the charges?

    • Robert Smissen, rural SA, God's own country says:

      01:21pm | 22/01/11

      Ben I bet you’re the b@stard that eats chips out of a bag & kicks the back of my seat aren’t you. As for you Pauline, no jury on earth would convict you if you’d turned her phone into an electronic supository. My only question is, would you do it again? ?

    • WayneT says:

      02:20pm | 22/01/11

      Actually most if not all Cinemas have rules that state you are not allowed to consume hot food in the theatre, which includes hot drinks.  Obviously the lady in question knew that because she waited until the lights dimmed before pulling out her pasty.  There are Health and Safety Regulatory ramifications for the Cinema, on top of the fact someone could spill or throw hot material in the Theatre and injure someone.  The Cinema would then be liable as they are in control of that space.  And yes, I’m aware that there are now Cinemas that have dining in theatre but they have strict guidelines and have to be segregated from the general public.  They also control the types of meals that enter the theatre with regard to aroma.  The last thing they want to do is intrude on someone’s space while they are watching a movie they bought and paid for.

    • Seano says:

      04:30pm | 22/01/11

      I agree, I have no problem with eating, although people should try to do it quitely.

      But talking on the phone during a movie is taking the piss. Clearly they’re not watching the movie so why should you be distracted my someone too self important to go outside?

    • Chris L says:

      05:21pm | 22/01/11

      Nor is the world that food smuggling woman’s oyster Ben, and a pungent odour can be very distracting.

      Buying a ticket for yourself does not grant you ownership of the theatre nor the right to impose your noise and smell on others. It’s called courtesy and it isn’t such a hardship.

    • Reg says:

      10:04pm | 22/01/11

      For some reason this reminds me of the school age kid sitting in the back seat of the Gosford train one morning, eating a garlic bulb like any normal person might eats an apple. I guess it would be alright in a theatre, as long as he was quiet about it. No?

      I suppose it would be assault with an offensive weapon if you took a garlic bulb into the theatre to ward off the pie-eater. Ah but of course, a concealed garlic necklace to be silently produced in an emergency. But hang on, I have observed that some people, (other than myself,) have the most dreadful smelling feet and are in the habit of removing the cover from the offending articles during movies.  Should one complain or just move?

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    • Yes,Its true says:

      11:21am | 22/01/11

      I caught Dick Dastardly Syndrome after seeing The Great Race,now I have a problem with damsels and railway tracks

    • Thommo says:

      11:28am | 22/01/11

      This is why I bought a giant plasma and blu ray -  I’ve put my movie scheduleback 3 months so I don’r care what’s on at the cinema. Now I can sit down and watch films on the Gold Class comfort of my home. And if I want to pause the film I can. Why woudl anyone go to the pictures these days?

    • NEFFA says:

      04:25pm | 24/01/11

      i’m with you, i cant stand going to the cinema anymore. people are disgusting

    • michael j says:

      11:41am | 22/01/11

      LOL a mate of mine was at the movies with his girl,two blokes keept talking a few rows behind them so he sat behind them an asked them to be quiet,this didn’t work so he flicked one on the ear an told them to shutup,then security got called and after a heated debate my mate ,n, his girl had to leave before the police were called,,still ol mate recons if he wanted to listen to blokes talkin s—t he would have taken the missess to the pub for lunch,,

    • The Badger says:

      11:46am | 22/01/11

      “global loathing of anyone who eats, slurps, chats”
      errr Is it ok to eat popcorn?

      just asking.

    • Thommo says:

      12:52pm | 22/01/11

      no - nothing crunchy. It’s beyond me why the Cinemas sell popcorn and worse still, Chips! And bottom of cup straw slurpers. I bought a mobile phone jammer from japan and operate it whenever i’m in the pictures. No one can call in our our. Works a treat and under $100. Great Investment

    • Angry God says:

      11:51am | 22/01/11

      I personally subscribe to the death penalty for mobile users in movies. They receive fair and adequate warnings and I have paid my $16 so screw em.

    • Michelle says:

      12:00pm | 22/01/11

      Sign me up! I want to join the “collective nerve” movement.

    • Mcloud says:

      12:09pm | 22/01/11

      I will never go to the Cinema again after the last time I went, It was to see “Tron” at Imax, on the left of me was some guy eating from a massive bucket of popcorn… digging his hand in over and over again, shaking the bucket to get the good bits and then sucking his fingers just to make sure he didnt waste any butter… this went on for around 45mins, On the right of me sat small child prob only around four years old…  who had the concentration span of about 5 mins, and would constantly ask her parents “whats that” “who’s that” “mum I’m Tired” etc…honestly unless it’s a screening of “Yogi the Bear” Leave them at HOME!

    • Chris L says:

      05:14pm | 22/01/11

      When I saw the last Star Wars movie at the cinema there was a lady with her two small children. I understand why she took them to see it as the movie would theoretically have a great attraction for children, but not these two. They were bored, they kept getting up and walking around and were constantly whining that they wanted to go home.

      I suggest if people take children to a movie they should be prepared from the start to simply leave if they have to rather than force their childrens’ noise and fidgeting on everyone else. When I was a child if I made such a fuss in the cinema it would mean either leaving or getting a harsh rebuke.

    • DH says:

      09:20pm | 22/01/11

      I think you’ll find that was George Lucas’ fault.

    • Chris L says:

      11:15pm | 22/01/11

      Yeah, the movie wasn’t all I’d hoped it’d be DH, but few movies ever are. Still have fond memories of the classic trilogy though.

    • JessB says:

      03:25pm | 24/01/11

      Mcloud, I saw Tron 2 at Imax Melbourne just last night and was amazed at the staff. They let people in about 5 minutes after the movie started and didn’t even direct them to ‘just sit in empty seats’, but let them clamber over about 10 people to get to their assigned seats.

      At the same time, a man to my right was clambering over us to get out - he returned with a tray of enormous drinks and a bucket of popcorn! I was stunned! Why do staff let these people back in? There is only one cinema at Imax, so they know the movie has started.

      The people to my left had brought in a baby, which at first amazed me. However, it kept quiet and Mum and Dad sat a few seats apart and let it play in the space between them. The baby was quieter than some of the adult patrons!

      I was brought up to always stay for the credit in a film, to show respect for the makers of the movie. As I stayed during Tron 2, the entire row to my right trouped in front of me. I did point out that there was an exit at their end of the row as well, but they first guy just looked at me blankly, so I let them pass. I wish I had taken a leaf from your book, Pauline, and simply politely refused to move and directed them the other way.

      And I’m going to start taking action - offering tissues to ‘sniffers’, asking people to keep it down, etc.

      But be careful not to take it too far: when I saw Tangled last week, a number of people stayed to watch the credits. A gentleman near me actually got up and shushed people who were talking during the credits! Okay, they were quite loud, but I was really taken aback at that!

    • Warren says:

      12:24pm | 22/01/11

      Great article. I’ve taken to watching obscure films at art house cinemas at strange hours just to avoid those people who have no sense of courtesy.

    • stephen says:

      01:30pm | 22/01/11

      Ma’am, you don’t look like a feisty lady, but if you do the things you do,
      I promise to slap tape over me gob, tie me feet together
      and push my hands deep into me pockets,
      and when I come to the steamy bits on the screen,
      shall curtail in spiral-wands, not from my ears, but waft from eye-sockets.
      (Charged fer assault in Texas ? Hell, way ter go !)

    • DH says:

      01:46pm | 22/01/11

      Mmm I can’t decide on this one. Was it just the smelly pasty? Or was it the loud talking and rustling of the paper bag that went with it?

      I love the cinema. I hate the few inconsiderate people who seem to actively seek to make as much noise there as possible. Chatting throughout is a sin (why go?), as is eating loudly for a long time, though we shouldn’t exactly be banning food, just maybe people who can’t eat with their mouths closed.

      As for kids, as someone mentioned, yeah I think there is a certain age and attention span at which you know it’s probably not a good idea to take them. But I went to see ET at 5/6 and enjoyed the hell out of it, even though I cried heaps (I wasn’t expecting the lights to go out and consequently spilt my ice cream). So maybe it’s for some and not others?

      Smelly pasty aside, I think the Brokeback Mountain bit of the story is much better. Well done there!

    • Ket says:

      02:59pm | 22/01/11

      I don’t go to the movies anymore unless it’s showing at Premium.

      The last movie I saw at the standard cinema was Avatar and the whole way through there were four teenage girls sitting behind me talking about how hot Harry Potter is and how they can’t wait to see the new Harry Potter film and how Harry Potter is the greatest thing to ever happen to both the film industry and the literature world. Even if I didn’t hate Harry Potter, I don’t want to hear about Harry Potter during Avatar. Then I got kicked in the head when one of them put her feet on the back of the chair.

      I’ll admit, I lost my cool. I turned around and told them exactly what I thought of them, their opinions on Harry Potter, Harry Potter in general, their behaviour and their feet. I caused A Scene. Then I walked out, demanded (and got) a refund from the ticket counter and swore on the Torah I was never ever going to the cinema like that again.

      So Premium it is. At least there I’m not going to be kicked in the head, I can curl up on my big chair with a shawl and just enjoy the movie. Otherwise I wait for the bluray and just watch it at home.

    • Hamlyn says:

      01:23am | 25/01/11

      Teenage girls are the worst. The last few times i’ve been All i’ve heard is girls giggling, talking and checking messages on their phones. I havent been for ages. For the price you pay id rather watch a movie at home.

    • Consider others says:

      03:57pm | 22/01/11

      I remember one time when a woman in the row in front of me took out her phone and started telling the person on the other end, everything that was happening on screen.

      But it’s not just cinemas, it’s other shows as well. I went to a show in which Kamahl was an honoured guest. The people at the table next to me decided they weren’t interested in him. All throughout his part these women, who are themselves performers from a local theatre company, talked and laughed loudly. When I and others asked them if they could bring it down a touch, instead of lowering their volume, they said that they were there to have fun and if we wanted to hear Kamahl we should’ve sat somewhere else. Then they made a point of becoming even louder.

    • Hamlyn says:

      01:29am | 25/01/11

      This sort of thing happened at my kids end of year concert. One class finished their performance and a couple of mothers then started talking as if it was all over just because their kid was finnished. No one could hear what was going on until a father told them straight out “if youre not interested f*** off outside” Several other parents actually clapped! And they went outside.

    • Steve) says:

      04:32pm | 22/01/11


      You rock

      Ben from Canberra:

      You’re a giant douche

      Lotsa love,


    • Cloud Strife says:

      07:38pm | 22/01/11

      I will happily tell anyone talking during a movie to STFU.

      However, one of the strangest things that ever happened to me was a guy who went off at me for talking at the Astor - DURING THE PREVIEWS!!

      This was at the Astor - these movies were already out to rent or buy!

      Of course I didn’t utter a peep during the actual movies, but, seriously, man? The previews???

    • Dan says:

      02:51am | 23/01/11

      So what if it was the Astor? I agree that it’s weird going off at you for talking during previews, but during the actual film itself, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Astor or not.

    • Kate says:

      07:43pm | 22/01/11

      This is exactly why I download movies.

      I went to see Inception the day it came out, I’d been hanging out to see it ever since I read about it (I’m a big Christopher Nolan/Cillian Murphy fan). Right behind my boyfriend and I were a group of mates who talked in loud whispers through the first half of the film and, as a result, missed a fairly significant portion of the plot. For the rest of the movie we heard “Who’s that? I don’t get it? But why are they there? Where’s Leo Di Caprio? Hey wasn’t that dude in Batman?” etc.
      My boyfriend is infinitely more patient than I am, and restricted his annoyance to occasionally rolling his eyes. I was about three seconds away from punching someone.

    • Mr Pod says:

      08:39pm | 22/01/11

      Maybe your profession/location/social standing keeps you away from disgusting people,  I have to deal with them daily so I cannot see why your single experience warrants an article.  When I have a film ruined I go to the box office immediately and ask for a refund and it has never been refused.

    • Huey says:

      10:01pm | 22/01/11

      YEA! Steve.


      10:17pm | 22/01/11

      Hi Pauline,

      Going to the cinema to see a new release movie has always been special to our generation throughout our lives.  However, I have noticed in the last few years, it has lost its special touch and effect in our lives.  Before videos and DVDs, it was like nothing like we knew or felt , just to sit there to enjoy “the actual movie experience at the actual theatre”. 

      Along the way we either have lost interest or have a problem in concentrating to watch a movie in “peace in quiet”.  Because of the fact that we all seem to be in hurry to get things done, to the extent that we are all talking endlessly on our mobile phones, no offence intended!!

      As we were going up, there was a certain cinema culture and we all behaved accordingly “no questions asked”.  May be it all has a lot to do with our manners and how we actually all behave in public places, without any concern to how others feel about our behaviour at all.  Best regards to your editors.

    • Kerry says:

      11:36pm | 22/01/11

      When it comes to people talking during movies, putting their feet and the back of seats, using their mobiles - then assault away. That’s not part of what could be reasonably expected.

      When it comes to people eating the popcorn and candy they’ve paid for—sorry, most theatres are pretty overt about selling crunchy stuff to movie patrons. People pay for it, they’ve got a right to eat it. Don’t want to hear it? Watch movies in the comfort of your home where you can set the tone you want for your film experience.

    • Mayday says:

      06:34am | 23/01/11

      I have experienced even worse behaviour than this is cinemas such as teenagers spitting on the seated patrons from the upper level!!!

      On another occasion a mother of two teenagers told off a group nearby who were carrying on then toward the end of the movie one of her children slapped one of the group across the head and almost started a brawl.

      At the end of the movie the two involved in the slap continued pushing and verbalising each other on the way out when the mother slapped the boy too.
      I could see it was going to get nasty and told management who found them in the foyer and chucked them all out.

      Both these incidents put me off for months and with the prices they now charge going to the movies is much lower on my list of fun things to do.

    • Ex-Aussie in USA says:

      06:54am | 23/01/11

      Pauline, You are probably the obnoxious woman with the big hair who always sat in front of me at the movies or were you the one sitting far to close to me with that revolting, overpowering rose scented perfume or silently cutting the cheese and glaring at me in disdain? No matter how perfect you pretend to be, your vile habits and George Clooney drove me from the theaters long before annoying cell phones and movies about homosexual cowboys.

    • Sir Sam Chowder says:

      09:06am | 23/01/11

      I thought one went to the cinema if one couldn’t afford air conditioning at home.

    • john tracey says:

      01:49pm | 23/01/11

      from 1991 to 1997,I watched hundreds and hundreds of movies,but I got sick of the same set of polts over and over and over again.
      I got movie rage

    • Amy Sturt says:

      06:34pm | 23/01/11

      I sat through the entire screening of Lord of the Rings: Whatever the last one is called (just kidding, Return of the King), while the guy next to me ate a large packet of Smiths Crinkle Cut chips.  By hour 2 he had finally finished the whole packet.  I was relieved.  I could finally concentrate, settle in and enjoy the re… He pulled out another pack of chips, and proceeded to polish it off during the rest of the movie.  I had no idea what happened in that movie until I bought the dvd months later.  Don’t even get me started on what happened when I saw Daniel Radcliffe naked in Equus….

      I hate people with no consideration for others in their surrounding environment, and as a theatre practitioner, I have to deal with people like this all too frequently.  Yes, we can hear you opening that wrapper from on stage, and yes, it’s annoying and distracting for all of us.

      Also… I wish I could bring myself to do this.

    • Cloud Strife says:

      08:10am | 24/01/11


      It’s relevant because at the Astor, all the previews were for movies that were already available to rent or buy.

    • jammer says:

      05:09pm | 06/05/11

      We install the mobile phone jammer in order to avoid the bad things. Students using mobile phone will affect their study. We just hope that they do not use the mobile phone during the class and examination; of course, the teachers also do not use the mobile phone when they have the classes. The more important is that we prepare the device for the important examinations.

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      12:57pm | 16/10/12

      As for a simple complete home security system, your system could include:
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      Automatic Recycling Storage – Your system automatically records over the oldest footage for efficient video storage.
      Email or Cell Phone Motion Alerts – When your home surveillance system detects motion on your property ptz cameras, it sends you a message via phone or computer so you are constantly aware of the safety of your home.


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