Two days after AMC's CEO suggested plans to test "text-friendly" auditoriums in an effort to attract "22-year-olds," the theater chain said it is not changing its policy banning cellphones from screenings.
"During the past few days, you may have heard media reports about another idea AMC Theatres was considering, testing whether some movie goers might want texting allowed in a small selection of our theaters," AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. "Unlike the many AMC advancements that you have applauded, we have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want."
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After reports suggested Aron was considering allowing texting in some auditoriums sparked immediate backlash from theatergoers on social media, the company "just as instantaneously" abandoned the idea on the "cutting room floor," Aron said.
"Not today, not tomorrow and not in the foreseeable future," he added. [[238904721, C]]
In an interview with Variety, published online Wednesday, Aron indicated that the theater chain may allow texting in some auditoriums in an effort to appeal to millennials.
"When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow," Aron said. "You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life."
Aron, who took on the roll of CEO less than four months ago, was talking about demographics the company planned to spend resources targeting when he was asked if "appealing to millennials would involve allowing texting or cellphone use." [[375846851, C]]
But, Aron noted that the chain would have to find a way to allow texting without disturbing the audience and yet getting "millennials go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives."
After a backlash on social media from theatergoers, Aron attempted to clarify reports that the theater chain was "considering a test allowing texts in a very few screens."
"IF ever, we ONLY would pursue in a way we'd be TOTALLY confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy movie going experience at AMC," he tweeted. [[375851891, C]]
On Friday, AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan said in an email to NBC that there will be "no texting at AMC."
Instead, the company plans on drawing audiences by investing in enhancing its theaters and systems with the absolute best in sight and sound technology, more comfortable seating, improved food and beverage quality and a more engaging AMC Stubs program, among other upgrades, Aron said.
"So, as always, we invite you to join us in sharing the excitement of seeing stories told well. However, when the lights dim, we'll remember your advice that your fellow moviegoers should turn off their phones," Aron said.