Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 by Angie Han
And here we thought the Alamo Drafthouse was zealous about rooting out cell phone use in theaters. But even their strongly worded PSAs and strict ushers seem downright passive compared to what one theater in London’s Leicester Square is doing.
The Prince Charles Cinema is said to be employing volunteer “ninjas” to regulate good behavior among the audience. The term “ninja” is being used loosely here — they’re really more like glorified ushers in black skintight bodysuits — but whatever you want to call them, it’s certainly an interesting way to keep the peace. More afer the jump.
The so-called ninjas are ordinary cinephiles who agree to “guard” screenings in exchange for free admission. When they spot a patron talking, texting, throwing popcorn, kicking seats, or otherwise engaging in rude behavior, they swoop down to give the jerk in question a talking-to. One of the program’s recent targets, moviegoer Abdul Stagg, recounted his experience:
I normally hate noisy people in cinemas, but I got a call from my friend just as the movie started and thought I could get away with taking it. The last thing I expected was two completely blacked-out people suddenly appearing by our seats and give me and my mates a warning to shut up. It was actually pretty terrifying at first, but then I realised it was a bit of a laugh and a great way to make it clear what I was doing was having an impact on those around me. It certainly made me hang up and shut up for the rest of the film.
The scheme came about when Morphsuits co-founder Gregor Lawson found himself fed up with the inconsiderate audiences he ran into at the theater. Lawson’s Edinburgh-based company is known for their skintight full-body “zentai” suits, and he wondered if he could use his products to help solve the problem.
I’m a big fan of going to the cinema, but there’s an unspoken code of conduct when you’re watching a movie that some people just don’t understand. Then when some fans were discussing being ninjas in their Morphsuits on our Facebook page I had a eureka moment. I thought I’d find a cinema and see if we could bring a light hearted taskforce to the aid of movie fans.”
Absurd as the program seems at first glance, it makes an odd sort of sense. The problem isn’t just that some moviegoers are jerks, but also that the people around said jerks are often reluctant to confront them about their behavior. Having a little ninja army dedicated to calling these people out seems like a tidy and entertaining way to solve both parts of the issue. And all at no cost to either theaters or patrons. Now, who wants to be the first to bring this program to the U.S.?