Smart Watches and Dumb Theatergoers…

harry potter and the goblet of fire posterA group of us headed to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for a fun experience the other day: the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the DMNS IMAX screen. Big screen, primed audience, and a dark story that was rather more scary than I remembered. Fortunately I didn’t bring my 14yo with me as I think she would have had a hard time with some of the heavier scenes: a beloved schoolboy dies in this installment of the series.

So there we are at a museum-sponsored screening of a fan favorite film, there are kids dressed up as members of House Gryffindor, and even some adults with school scarves, capes and other accoutrements of the most sophisticated of Hogwarts attendees. You’d think, then, that the chance of people disturbing the experience for others would be far, far less than a regular theater showing, right?


There was the one guy in the third row who actually checked his phone every so often, scrolling down to see what notifications he’d received. If he weren’t a dozen rows in front of me, I would have yelled at him. And then there were the smart watches. Yes, it turns out that those cute little Apple Watches can prove to be really annoying in a dark movie theater and I had the disadvantage sitting next to a guy who had one on his wrist that he checked occasionally. It wasn’t as annoying as the person on their phone, but still, how do people attend a movie without realizing that every time they look at something illuminated, so does everyone else near them?

apple watch - theater modeApple realized this long ago and added a theater mode to the watch that turns it off completely until you push one of the side buttons to wake it up – post movie or show – and catch up on the raft of critical events that transpired without your active attention. So why don’t people know about this? A single tap and they’re now great digital citizens of the moviegoing world!

I dunno, maybe it’s just me and some sort of Luddite expectation that if I’m in a dark room to enjoy a cinematic experience that everyone else in the space is equally prepped for just that, phones put away and watches off. Then again, this is why I also prefer an empty afternoon matinee to a busy evening showing with lots of crowd interaction. How about you? Do all the lights, beeps and buzzes of modern technology interrupt your theater experience too?

Oh, and the film was really fun anyway. I just didn’t want to keep being pulled back to 2018 with the flashes of light around me…

2 comments on “Smart Watches and Dumb Theatergoers…

  1. Before a terrible theater attack a few years ago, I was using a laser pointer on Theater Phonies. Worked a treat.

  2. Despite the name, smartwatches can be kind of dumb. Sure, they can do cool things, like control your music and put notifications on your wrist. But battery life woes and underwhelming platforms leave you questioning the real IQ of these supposedly “smart” devices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *