Cinema lets audience members alert staff with discreet pagers

Five cinemas in New York that belong to the Regal Entertainment Group have been giving some audience members small black pagers. These pagers can be used to alert staff whenever this is a ‘disturbance’ during the showing of the movie. What kind of disturbance? Well, one moviegoer says he would use the device when people started answering cellphones during movies, or talking out loud so that others were disturbed. For now, only audience members that participate in Regal’s customer loyalty program are given the chance to wield the pager, which apparently looks like a child’s toy.

I guess that the intentions of this move are good, I don’t like the way it places some audience members above the rest. It’s basically like choosing a couple of people at random and empowering them to be custodians of the audience during the film, without them having qualifications whatsoever. Heather DeMatteis, the manager of a cinema using this pager, said “[the audience] love it”. Well of-course they love it, whoever holds the pager has the power to call down the wrath of the staff on a target of their choice.

Ah, there’s a problem. A target of their choice – what if they don’t like a member of the audience and use the pager against them? Staff will hardly know who is telling the truth, and they’ll probably believe the person with the pager over the innocent victim – why? Because he has the pager. Heck, this could even become a marketing tactic: people want a chance with the pager, so they’ll sign up for Regal’s loyalty program.

This blog post has more details on the pager, which apparently has four buttons labelled ‘Sound’, ‘Picture’, ‘Piracy’, and ‘Other Disturbance’.

Actually, hang on – the pager is being offered in 114 cinemas. This website has a list of all the participating theatres.

Hopefully I won’t be visiting any of those in the future.

– Nishant

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