More distracting still is the bloke who sets out to impress his girlfriend by explaining the plot – and gets it hopelessly wrong! Resist if you can the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, mate – you really haven't got a feckin’ clue, have you?"

Chronic Masticators

When I were a lad, a snack at the cinema meant a shared box of Maltesers which one struggled to locate amid the fug of cigarette smoke (remember that?).

Today's increasingly obese cinemagoers are more likely to be seen consuming vast, nutrition-free three-course meals at their seats, with all the attendant irritating odours and crunching and slurping noises.

There's a reason for this. It long ago became uneconomic for cinemas to show films alone. No, really. If you pay to watch a big blockbuster these days, up to 90% of your ticket price goes straight back to the distributor.

Adapting to the new economics of exhibition, cinemas now make the bulk of their cash from over-priced concessions, which also explains why you're practically strip-searched if they suspect you of attempting to sneak in a sarnie.


I'm going to qualify this, because many years' experience has taught me that there are three groups one baits at one's peril: god-botherers and their fellow travellers (i.e. agnostics – the Liberal Democrats of the religion debate ageing punk rockers and breeders.

So let the record show that plenty of children, especially the offspring of nice middle class Venue readers, are perfectly capable of enjoying films quietly. However, a significant minority of parents seem to labour under the misapprehension


peace-and-quiet surcharge. The fatal flaw in this concept, however, is the notion that people stop being annoying when they reach the age of 18.

Other Stuff

In addition to the hell that is other people (and I didn't even get around to mentioning personal hygiene) cinemas seem to conspire to pile on the misery. Not content with treating their customers like criminals who have yet to be caught illegallycamcording films, they force us to endure endless trailers and ads.

Thanks to the advent of the PVR (Sky+ and the like there's no reason why any sane person should ever have to endure another television commercial. But cinemas don't have fast forward buttons, so we must suffer excruciating aspirational bullshit pitched at social inadequates over and over again.

Oh, and memo to the people who make those funny EE ads: they're great the first time, moderately funny the second time, and then become increasingly irritating with each repetition. And nobody takes the slightest notice of the message.

My least favourite ad, however, has to be the 'Be an Insider' one that you get all the time at Showcase cinemas. This plays like a recruitment drive for a sinister religious cult, with smiley, attractive, dead-eyed young people beckoning spods to join them in their exciting inner circle of celebrity gossip, like the Flirty Fishers of the Children of God (Google it).

And even if I was minded to join a religious cult, it wouldn't be the one with that bloke who looks like a serial killer. You know the one I mean.


that by purchasing a ticket they enter into a contract that places the cinema in loco parentis for the duration of the film.

Result: hellspawn running up and down the aisles, screaming, kicking the backs of chairs and so on, while their parents – presumably numbed by this behaviour, which is considered normal in the family home – remain supine and slack-jawed, oblivious to our suffering.

Some cinemas now acknowledge this tacitly with over-18s screenings, for which they have the audacity to append a