We've had numerous stories in the past about how the real threat to movie theaters isn't that people might download movies online, but that the theater-going experience sucks. It's just not that enjoyable, and one of the biggest culprits are people who leave their mobile phones on and take calls in the theater. You would think that people would know better by now, but they don't. That's caused movie theaters to look into setting up mobile phone jammers in theaters, a move that many moviegoers approve of. Of course, the problem with that plan is that it's illegal, and probably a bit of overkill. Numerous people have pointed out that if theaters just did a better job kicking out the troublemakers, things wouldn't be so bad. However, unlike many years ago, most theaters don't have ushers stationed nearby any more. However, Regal Entertainment Group, owners of the largest US movie chain is calling technology to the rescue. They'll be giving out little devices to "mature" audience members, along with a free bucket of popcorn. If there's a problem in the theater, whoever has the device can click a button and immediately alert theater employees to come and help deal with the situation. The pager device apparently has 4 separate buttons. The first is for disruptions in the audience, including mobile phone-related issues. The others are for a faulty projector, temperature problems or the generic "other" button. It's a fascinating experiment, and one that makes a lot of sense. If it's become too expensive to employ full-time people to usher each theater, why not let members of the audience be the eyes and ears for you in exchange for a free bucket of popcorn? Right now, the company is testing these devices in 25 theaters, but hopes to expand it nationwide soon. Update: Carlo points out in the comments that the version he saw in a television broadcast had that last button labeled "piracy" rather than "other." Wonder if they've changed it, or just decided not to let this reporter know about it.
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