What would Joni Mitchell say we will miss about the movie theater experience when it’s gone? How about a dark theater without the distraction of bright cell phone screens popping up? You might think that everyone would want that. And, you’d be wrong.

There was a lot of noise back in April 2016 when AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron suggested in a Variety Magazine interview that they might allow texting in theaters. Quickly AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan, responded to the backlash and announced that there was no specific timeframe for a test that would allow texting in the dark.

No texting in a dark theater sounds like a good standard to uphold. In a Rolling Stone online article from October 2013 Alamo Drafthouse Theater CEO Tim League said, “Over my dead body will I introduce texting into the movie theater…it’s our job to understand that this is a sacred space and we have to teach manners.”

Not everyone sees the movie theater as a sacred space. Last year, when the AMC story went viral, one opinionist, Amber Jamieson, from The Guardian suggested that “Going to the movie theater doesn’t have to be like a visit to a holy temple…Allowing cellphones-in certain screenings, in certain movies-is just another reimagining of what a cinema experience can be.”

The cinema experience is definitely being challenged to reinvent itself in a way that will bring back the pre-streaming level of audience attendance. Change is inevitable and innovation seems like the right next step to boost the movie theater business model. Just as Joni Mitchell predicted, there has been a lot of paving paradise and putting up parking lots over the past century. With all the tech advancement and innovation, let’s not wait until something is gone before we know what we’ve got.

At lilspace we want to keep these kinds of conversations going and support people putting away their phones to focus on what matters most. Follow us @getlilspace on Instagram and FB

Originally published at medium.com


  • Kim Anenberg Cavallo

    Executive Director, Founder

    Unplug Collaborative, Lilspace

    Kim first became aware of the downside of mobile technology when she found herself in the bathroom of a yoga studio in 2015 reading her emails instead of participating in the class. In between anxious impulses to check her phone, she built a digital wellness company, lilspace, and the Unplug for a Cause® Timer app that was launched in 2018. Since then, Kim and her team have worked with educators in bringing unplugging challenges to schools and other youth communities across the United States. Before turning her focus to the intersection of digital wellness and social impact, Kim spent 25 years raising money and connecting people to non-profit causes and creating educational, arts and culture programs in and around Los Angeles. Kim recently took on the role of Executive Director of Unplug Collaborative, home of National Day of Unplugging where she is part of a team distributing free resources to organizers who want their communities to get healthier with technology. When Kim puts away her phone, she loves to spend time with her husband + 2 adult sons, doing yoga and traveling.