Although it's been only a day since AMC Entertainment's new chief suggested that the theater chain might be open to making certain movie theaters "texting friendly" in a bid to woo millennials, the backlash has been swift.
In an interview with Variety posted online Wednesday, CEO Adam Aron said, "You can't tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That's not how they live their life."
Aron, the former head of Starwood Hotels & Resorts who took the reins at AMC in January, acknowledged that the use of phones during movies irritates many people, and said AMC would have to find a way — such as designated auditoriums for people who wanted to text — to keep everybody happy.
This didn't reassure movie buffs, who flooded AMC's social media accounts with objections to the prospect of distracting blue screens glowing in a darkened theater, or what they viewed as pandering to an entitled, tech-obsessed generation, with many vowing to take their patronage elsewhere if AMC followed through with the idea.
Within hours, the company seemed to walk back the idea in a pair of tweets on its Twitter account, referring to the CEO's comments as, "Press reports we are considering test allowing texts," and specifying that any such test would take place "in a very few screens."
The company also acknowledged the ire Aron's suggestion inflamed, tweeting, "We know vast majority of audience wants no texting. If ever, we only would pursue in a way that we can be totally confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy the movie-going experience at AMC." Similar messages were posted by Aron on his personal Twitter account as well as AMC's Facebook page.
The company followed up its posts with a statement on Thursday.
"Given that so many of today's moviegoers are passionate about preserving the purity of watching movies undisturbed in our theatres, there is no specific timeframe as to when we might introduce such a test, if ever," AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan said in an email. He said AMC is "sensitive that the overwhelming majority of our current audience does not want texting to disrupt their experience."