My Ideal Seat

When I go to a movie, generally my first priority is to see it with as few other people as possible. I don’t mean friends or family here, I mean that I to minimize the total number of audience members. This objective is, of course, opposed by my eagerness to see films when they’re released and when the print is fresh.

I got to a lot of weekday matinees–the earlier in the day, the better. I usually go by myself, and generally there’s very few people in the theatre. When I arrive in the theatre, I undertake a complex, subconscious evaluation to determine where to sit. There are many factors, but the most important is the noise potential of my fellow cinema-goers.

To try to quantify this evaluation, I’ve created the following diagram. It displays a typical audience and illustrates the scope of each group’s perceived ‘noise threat’. As you can see, single men tend to be very quiet (silent really, except for the rare cell phone call) while middle-aged women and teenagers tend to be chatty.


  1. Unfortunately, the “quiet” factor of the single man is cancelled out by the “potential b.o.” factor.
    (I don’t know why, but they’re the only “theatre group” I’ve noticed with consistent b.o. potential.)

  2. Yup. My ideal seat is the same as your but on the left. By ideal I mean where I actually like to sit in the theatre. I really do not like to be forced to sit elsewhere.

    I would rather listen to teenage boys than girls any day because young girls are not only loud but often accompanied by louder perfume. I would also steer clear of said middle-aged women due to perfume as well.

    I usually do not sit near the single dudes in case they think I am trying to pick up.

    As for talkers and shushing… I talk sometimes (verrry quietly and briefly) because I am a film snob and think I really do get special rules.I am trying to cut that out. SOmeone shushed me during a COMMERCIAL in the theatre and I nearly had a fit. “I did not come here to have PEPSI pushed down my throat. And sorry for disturbing you.” I figured that since I didn’t want to see a commercial, no one else did. I was wrong. I behave now.

  3. I like to sit on the aisles because I’m tall and it gives me extra leg room in the aisle.

    Otherwise, I agree with you completely. I’ve stopped going to movies on opening weekend as much as possible. I can’t stand crowds, and I hate people. =)

  4. the centre is best for ideal sound mixes…I generally take the centre, but a few rows up if I have to. Depends on the theatre too, there’s a fair few out there where the projectionist can’t even aim the bloody film on the screen properly.

  5. Wouldn’t it be better, noise avoidance-wise, to sit further back in the theatre?

    The voices from the other patrons will be projected forward (as shown in the excellent diagram). Sitting behind everybody else would be better.

  6. Winston: True, and I’ve got a friend who always sits at the back row of the theatre for this reason. However, my ideal viewing position is pretty close to the front, so the positioning is always a compromise.

    Additionally, I imagine that the cinema’s sound design (such as it is) is optimized for the person sitting in the dead-centre of the theatre.

  7. I agree totally with this. I hate the packet crinklers more than the talkers, I think. When I went to see I Am Legend, two old women slowly and chattily entered. One was quite feeble, and I could hear them slowly progressing up the entry tunnel bit. I was gritting my teeth as they SLOWLY made their way to some seats near me.

    Then they brought out the shopping bags with something to eat. Crinkle rustle rustle. Talk talk murmur. Did I really have it in myself to tell two old ladies to be quiet?

    Then, they realised that they were watching a a guy wandering through a deserted city with an assault rifle.

    Slowly they crinkled the bags bag into their handbags, got up, and talking the whole way left the cinema.

  8. For me, it’s not the sound level, but the commentary that bothers me. If someone is just making idle chatter, I can generally tune that out quite well. It’s when they start making snide remarks or running commentary about the film on screen that I get super upset.

    Nice chart, by the way.

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