No Talking or Phones Warning

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
"If you have an emergency, step into the hallway. Otherwise... IT CAN WAIT!"

A form of Paratext used in cinemas and live theater, that reminds audiences to turn off cell phones and refrain from conversation during the performance. They range in complexity from a simple oral or written request for silence, to faux-trailers for nonexistent movies that get interrupted by noise from the audience to show how distracting such racket can be.

The cinematic versions, produced by theater chains, are formally known as "policy trailers". Older versions sometimes mention crying babies rather than cell phones, asking that noisy infants be taken to the lobby. Warnings against smoking and littering are optional. And of course, there is the obligatory, "In case of fire run screaming out any door walk quietly to the nearest exit. This notice required by law."


Amusing or noteworthy examples[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Spoofed in Tampopo, in which a Yakuza gangster does the reminder at the start of the movie and not-so-subtly hints at violent punishment for offenders.
  • Cirque Du Soleil's KA features a dialog-free warning in which an actor in the audience is caught breaking the rules: using flash photography, having his cell phone on, and smoking. They throw his camera into a giant pit, then his cell phone, then him.
  • AMC has some really clever ones. One involves Martin Scorsese directing somebody kissing her child good night because she talked through his last movie. Another involves a Wuxia-type movie stopping in mid-fight because there's a cell phone ringing.
    • There's another that plays like the trailer for a nonexistent Disney animated flick about a bald eagle ... at least, until a ringtone distracts her when she's trying to save her father from vultures, and gets them both toasted by a volcano.
    • A recent one features a man surrounded by a cloud of viral-video and Adobe Flash game animations, which groan in disappointment when he tells them to stay in the lobby while he's watching the movie.
  • Regal Cinemas has a warning at the ticket booth when you purchase tickets that says, "The Angry Birds have now entered a no-fly zone."
  • A trailer for the 2011 film The Muppets is staged like one of these, with Piggy and Kermit sitting in a theater and being annoyed by other Muppets' use of cell phones, a microwave oven (Swedish chef) and drums (Animal, of course) in the audience.
  • Mobile phone company Orange has a long-running British campaign that depicts real films or actors getting totally messed up by Orange sponsorship - thereby combining reverse psychology with movie cross-promotion. For example, a 2011-2012 ad features The Muppets movie being promoted as "The Orange Show", much to Kermit's disgust. The punchline to all of these ads is, "Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie. Turn it off now".
  • Drive-in theaters use a version that instructs audiences to keep vehicle headlights off, parking brakes engaged, and other necessary courtesies and safety rules in force.
  • Broadway has been trying to get these to be more interesting in recent years, in an ineffectual attempt to get people to pay attention and actually DO it. One way is getting celebrities to make a recorded announcement played before the show, like Harvey Fierstein before the recent revival of La Cage aux Folles, or David Mamet before the Broadway premiere of American Buffalo (with a Precision F-Strike). Another is using sound effects to make it seem like phones are actually going off in the audience before an official announcement (which I heard before The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, and which actually tied into the sound design for the show itself).
  • Spoofed in the The Simpsons with a theater running a graphic sketch "To Kill A Talking Bird" featuring Itchy And Scratchy.
  • If you go to a AMC/Cinemark/Regal (most of the United States) movie theater, you will see a campaign backed by Sprint reminding people to turn off their phones, with the tagline "It takes a lot of phone calls to make a movie. And only one to ruin it."
  • The Alamo Drafthouse, a local theater chain centered in Austin, Texas, is famous for their strict "you talk or phone/text, we throw your ass out" policy.
    • One of them actually achieved national recognition when it was featured on The Consumerist. (warning: foul language)
  • Live performances can become pretty interesting when combined with this. One of the MD renaissance-festival acts will collect ringing phones in a glass jar with other phones (most of which are broken already).
  • No-Smoking variant: A memorable one was simply a very short clip from the movie RoboCop 2 where Robo surrounds a guy's head with bulletholes, holsters his weapon, and as the cigarette drops from the terrified punter's mouth, Robo calmly says, "Thank you... for not smoking."
  • The Movieplex chain had such a trailer featuring Mr. Bean smoking from a cigar, a pipe and a bong, talking on a mobile phone, operating a vacuum cleaner and serving cocktails.
  • Homestar Runner featured a "No rocket launchers" warning in a movie theater. "Dadala-dadala-da-da-DIE!!!" (DOOJ)
  • Non-entertainment example: Most college instructors include a "set phones off/to vibrate" warning in their course syllabi, and insist on their deactivation during tests if not all lectures.
  • Some stage productions have fun with this; for example, the Broadway revival of Rocky Horror suggested the audience set their phones on vibrate, Spamalot told the audience to "let their phones ring willy-nilly" before reminding them that most of the characters in the show are heavily-armed knights, and at least one regional production of Urinetown had an actor planted in the audience whose cell phone rang during the pre-show message - causing the police to drag him away.