Movie theater seating etiquette

I love watching films and for the most part I love experiencing them on the big screen. Like most people, there is one particular spot in a theater that I prefer to sit. That spot is of course dead center of the screen and dead center of the side mounted speakers. This is why I always arrive early for a movie to ensure I can get this choice spot. Now if this spot is taken, I obviously have to choose an alternate seat. The question is, where do I sit? Astonishingly, most people apparently don't know that there is an unwritten rule that establishes an etiquette for theater seating. Last night I went with a friend to the theater to see Valkyrie. At first, she and I were the only two people in the entire theater. A few moments later a small family (a father, mother, and two kids) walked in. Even though they had hundreds of seats available to them, the family chose to take the four seats directly behind where we were seated. This my friends, is not good theater seating etiquette.

You see, the unwritten rules of theater seating are a lot like the unwritten rules of urinal usage in a men's public bathroom.

1) You never take the space adjacent to an occupied urinal unless there are no more spaces available to you.

2) You never split the difference between two occupied urinals if there is an open one on the outer extremity of the grouping.

These rules are universal and whether or not people have openly talked about them, they always seem to obey them. Why do people not see that this is exactly how it should work when choosing your seat at the theater? Unless it is absolutely a packed house, you should always leave a buffer of at least one row between another party and your chosen seat if you insist on sitting in the same vertical plane as them. Likewise, if the theater is starting to fill up and you have to share the same row with another party, you should really leave at least two to three seats open between them and your seat. It's not really that difficult.

posted by Christopher Schnese