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AMC backs away from plan to allow texting in theaters

After AMC Theatres announced plans to allow moviegoers to text in the theater, customers fired back against the idea. The movie theater chain said Friday it will scrap plans to allow some theater patrons to text during movies, a move its CEO had said it considered to attract more millennials. “We have heard loud and clear this is a concept our audience does not want,” said AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said in a statement:

AMC’s about-face follows an interview Aron gave to Variety, where he suggested making some theaters friendlier to moviegoers who want to use their smartphones while watching a movie.   Aron says the company will focus on other plans to entice more consumers to go to the movies, including investing more than $1 billion to enhance theaters and their systems.

With your advice at hand, there will be NO TEXTING ALLOWED in any of the auditoriums at AMC Theatres,” he says. “Not today, not tomorrow, and not in the foreseeable future.”

The harsh reaction to AMC’s proposal falls in line with U.S. sentiment on when it’s appropriate to use a smartphone. According to a national survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans polled said it’s not OK to use a smartphone “at the movie theater or other places where others are usually quiet.” Because theater attendance is down. In 2009, there were more than 1.4 billion admissions in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. Since then, only two years have been worse than 2015, which saw 1.32 billion admissions.

The rise of streaming video has coincided with the rise of theaters that serve food and booze. Alamo Drafthouse, which started as a single theater in Austin, Texas, in 1997, has expanded aggressively across the country in recent years. This summer, it will open its 24th location in Brooklyn.

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