Cell phones still No. 1 movie irritant for Regal CEO
People who talk and text on cell phones are still the number one source of movie theater complaints tracked by Regal Entertainment Group, Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Campbell told the Reuters Media Summit on Wednesday.
Campbell made news at a the 2006 Reuters summit by disclosing that Regal, the largest U.S. theater chain, had armed patrons in a few test theaters with gizmos that summon ushers to deal with problems ranging from rowdy audiences to a freezing auditoriums. Back then, Campbell reported that some patrons were “getting into physical battles in the theaters” over cell phones and that the chain had “had people assaulted with bats, knives and guns” over their electronic umbilical cords.
The program worked so well that Regal has now expanded it to 100 of its highest volume locations, and cell phone talkers and texters seem to be getting the message, Campbell said.
“We have noticed — at least our perception over the last couple of years is — we don’t seem to be having quite as many issues there,” Campbell said. “I think the message that we are trying to get out to customers, both subtle and not so subtle, is beginning to have some impact.”
Regal has used data from the expanded program to track whether a particular disturbance “is mostly a… one-off situation or is there a pattern across the country,” Campbell said.
Still, the most common problems are “cell phone related — texting…and cell phone usage,” Campbell said. “In general, the number one complaint… continues to be some kind of customer disruption.”
(Photo: Director/actor Woody Allen uses his phone, but not in the movie theater. Reuters)