It wasn’t that the chairs were uncomfortable. After shelling out for what had been billed as a “Premium Cinema Experience” they were practically four poster beds. The red velvet was new and plush, the back and headrest were at the ideal angle for viewing the screen and the armrests were sturdy enough to keep distance enough between strangers (and movable enough to close that distance for other purposes if and as required). Even the film itself was living up to expectations.
No, the problem wasn’t the upholstery. The problem was the people. The people who brought in food in crinkly wrappers. The people who couldn’t go more than three scenes without illuminating their phones, creating for the people behind them the galaxy’s most transient and irritating constellations. The people who slurped. The people who rustled. The people who TALKED.
Some time thereafter a small, experimental screening series started at the cinema. They never played on the larger screens and maybe they never would be in the theatres with the hydraulic seats, but the “Silent Movies” sessions became a modest success. The rules were simple: you could laugh at something funny, gasp at something shocking or discretely cry at something sad, but otherwise you were silent. The premium ticket price went to paying the ushers who ejected those who preferred, shall we say, a more interactive cinematic experience.
Not everyone understood the appeal, but those who did went all the time.