Rumour has it that iPhones will soon include a ‘cinema mode’. According to Sonny Dixon, a man renowned for leaking Apple information, a ‘popcorn’ icon will feature in the next iOS update. Exactly what this new feature will be (if, indeed, it is going to appear at all) is open to speculation. Theories include that it will ‘disable system sounds’ and ‘reduce initial screen brightness during a movie’.
There are obviously far more important things in the world to worry about and I’ll avoid going into full outrage mode on a subject that is obviously trivial, but, having said that, it’s still worth pointing out that if you think encouraging people to use their mobiles in a cinema is a good idea then you are an imbecile of cinematic proportions.
The light issue has always been the main bugbear for sensible cinemagoers. Small screens lit up across an auditorium are a distraction from the big screen. This new popcorn mode may solve that issue to some extent, but that still won’t appease me. The communal nature of the cinema experience is one of its main attractions and people tapping away on their phones undermines that. Just catching sight of, or even just sensing, people who are texting or checking their Twitter feeds while a film plays drives me mad.
Perhaps the problem is all mine. I get annoyed at home when people scroll through Facebook while the TV is on (and by ‘people’, I mean my wife). Maybe I’m being old-fashioned, but I stand by the point that people should be capable of sitting through an entire film they’ve paid to watch without looking at their phones (and, while we’re at it, noisily stuffing their faces with popcorn, too).
In my capacity as a film critic, I regularly attend press screenings and I’m sad to report that even these are not immune from illicit phone use. Reviewers, who obviously should know better, increasingly can’t help themselves. During a recent screening I attended, one moron even got his laptop out and started typing up his notes as we watched.
There has been talk of text-friendly cinema screenings. Corralling people who lack the power to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time into one place would certainly be a start, but it’s still not enough.
Instead of creating a ‘movie mode’ to enable phone addicts, Apple should include a device in iPhones that gives people who use them in cinemas excruciating electric shocks. At the very least, anyone pressing the popcorn button should be blocked automatically from all of my social media channels, and deleted from my contact list forever.