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.