"Mastication in the dark should be kept to an absolute minimum." So says Paul Ross, leading Empire's new campaign to instil some film-watching etiquette into the UK's cinemas.
What's the most annoying thing that's happened to you in the cinema? Munching, talking, texting plus "all the usual noises, yelps and growls"... Paul Ross can name a few.
What's Your Most Annoying Film-Watching Experience? Feel Free To Rant...
His worst experience? Well, he can recall a genteel cinema date with his wife in Birmingham, disrupted when a man in front started eating chicken choi mein... "with his fingers". Or the time in Herne Bay when a fellow filmgoer took the opportunity of a quiet bit to start fiddling with a high bar stool... "what goes through people's minds? Do they think they're invisible?"
According to a recent poll of Empire Cinemas customers, talking during the film is the most annoying habit of others - whether it's asking questions about the plot or just having a chinwag mid-film, over half (52%) voted this to be their top pet peeve.
Ross admits he's been on the receiving end of a few complaints himself, but not since childhood. As the eldest of six, including boisterous bro Jonathan, the brood would treat the local flicks as their own giant, dark playroom, including sitting through the same time three times, much to the chagrin of Mrs Ross, who'd be summoned to collect.
And now a father himself, Ross admits there's something bonding about a loud box of popcorn, and the ritual of passing it up and down the row.
Loud rustling, crunching and drink slurping is the second biggest gripe (25%), closely followed by those awkward public displays of affection (15%) that tend to occur when the lights go down. Other top irritations include people playing on their mobile phones, putting their feet up on the chairs and having the plot or ending of the film ruined by social media. Close to four in ten (39%) claim to have read a film plotline on Twitter or Facebook, diminishing the enjoyment and suspense of the film they're seeing.
But he thinks it's time to be vigilant - "Just as people forget they're visible, other people are equally invisible, and should ssshhh at their pleasure. There's courage in numbers too, everyone should join in."
Paul Ross's personal favourite film, during which no sound must be made? 'The Wild Bunch' OR 'Singing In The Rain'
What about committing all these sins through the ads and trailers at the beginning? Equally unforgivable, according to Ross. "They're to get you in the mood, you want to see what's coming up at the flicks, what's going on in the cinematic world - it's all part of it and should be treated as such."
Are there any exceptions to the rule, or any films that are acceptable to talk or rustle through?
"Absolutely not," he claims. "A brain surgeon might be allowed to check on his patient, but then only during the ads and trailers. By then, he's done everything he can, he should just sit back and enjoy the film."
Paul Ross is championing the Empire Cinemas Etiquette Guide - here are its 10 guidelines - DO YOU AGREE?
The Empire Cinemas Etiquette Guide:
1. Keep talking to a minimum; save the chat for after the film
2. Enjoy your treats quietly; keep rustling to a minimum
3. No PDAs; keep public displays of affection until after the film
4. No mobile phones; keep all mobile phone use until after the film including texting, social networking and internet surfing. All phones should be switched off or turned to silent so they don't interrupt others mid-film
5. Keep feet off chairs; remember your fellow cinema goers have to sit in them
6. Don't disturb your fellow cinema goers; arrive on time / no getting up to go to the toilet
7. No removing of shoes; keep your foot odour confined to your shoes
8. No littering; take your leftovers with you and no popcorn fights
9. No plot spoilers; don't ruin the movie ending for others by posting on social media
10. Allocated seating; no sitting in other peoples pre-booked seats
For more information, visit www.empirecinemas.co.uk