Texting-friendly theaters could 'seriously hurt' industry, Alamo Drafthouse founder says

Texting-friendly theaters could 'seriously hurt' industry, Alamo Drafthouse founder says
An AMC Entertainment theater in Monterey Park, east of downtown Los Angeles. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse cinema circuit, is not happy that a major chain might consider special auditoriums to allow texting.

League on Thursday responded to comments made by AMC Entertainment Chief Executive Adam Aron, who said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the company may have to designate "texting friendly" theaters to better attract millennials.

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"Innovation in this direction could seriously hurt our industry," League said in a statement.

In remarks at the CinemaCon film business conference in Las Vegas, Aron told The Times that telling millennials to not text is akin to ordering them to "cut off your left arm above the elbow."

League, whose company operates 23 locations, took exception to that sentiment, saying texting during movies is not just an affliction of the young, but a "global attention span epidemic."

Strong words, to be sure.

But League sees the elimination of texting from his theaters as key to preserving the cinema industry.

"We as exhibitors rely completely on these creators for our content and have an unwritten obligation to present their films in the best possible way: on a big screen with big sound and a bright picture in a silent, dark room," he said.

In other words, texting isn't just disrespectful, it's bad for business, in League's estimation.

For its part, AMC walked back the comments after they provoked negative responses on social media.

"Press reports we are considering test allowing texts in a very few screens," the company said on its official Twitter account. "We know vast majority of audience wants no texting. If ever, we only would pursue in a way that we can be totally confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy the moviegoing experience at AMC."

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder