Picture this if you will.
You’re at your local cinema and have just shelled out the best part of £15 on a ticket to see the movie you’ve been waiting months to see. The screening room is quite busy, but you’ve managed to land a decent seat and you’ve settled yourself in ready for the feature to begin.
You’ve waited patiently through the trailers, the adverts and the cinema telling you there’s still time to get a beverage, you’ve turned your phone off and the lights are finally going down as the film begins.
Then five minutes in, a glaring light draws your attention from the action on screen to the person just in front of you.
They’re checking their phone. They’re doing this intermittently throughout the film. They’re ruining your cinema experience.
If that scenario fills you with frustration and quiet rage then you’ll be interested to know there could be a way to stop people distracting you with their mobiles during a film.
That way is brought to you by Yondr.
Yondr is a company founded in 2014 and its mission is to stop people using their phones during live gigs. It works by giving patrons pouches to put their mobile devices in for the duration of the performance or event they are set to witness.
Each patron keeps hold of their phone in the pouch, which is locked by a steward before they enter the main performance venue. When they leave, the pouches are unlocked and returned to the steward and the patron leaves with their phone and the feeling of satisfaction from an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Many artists and performers have teamed up with Yondr at their gigs including Jack White, Alicia Keys, The Lumineers and Chris Rock, so it’s definitely time for the company to look into teaming up with cinema chains.
This is because the honour system is no longer fit for purpose. You and I might stick to Wittertainment’s code of conduct, but not everyone is part of the Church or cares about the shared experience you enter into when you go see a movie.
So why not give a Yondr-like policy a go? There are already stewards checking tickets on people’s way into screening rooms so they could easily hand out and take back pouches for each visitor too. There’s also the added bonus of enforcing a phone-free environment: less piracy.
According to the Film Distributor’s Association, “illegal recording in cinemas around the world is the source of over 90% of pirated films in circulation today.” They warn that because of the evolving nature of technology it’s becoming easier for movie pirates to use their mobile devices and smartphones to record at cinemas.
If cinemas enforced a pouch policy it would make it easier for stewards to monitor screening rooms. Any time they might see a phone screen light up they would be able to approach the owner and ask them to leave the room until they had locked their device away, or even eject them if they are actually recording what’s on the screen.
No more dodgy recordings of new movies landing on illegal streaming websites or Pornhub. No more end credit scenes posted to social media. No more of your cinema experience ruined by a glaring light in your peripheral vision.
It’s a win for the filmmakers, the studios and the viewers, so here’s hoping phone-free cinemas are Yondr horizon.