Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Run Around Sue
This article at USAToday reports on a class action lawsuit brought against the theatre chains to compensate audience members for lost time due to ads. This is the lawsuit site.
The knee-jerk response will be, "Great, another frivolous lawsuit." Unfortunately, it seems that the only effective way to make any change in this country--whether it is about access to required services or recovering for specific harms--is with a lawsuit. I think it speaks more to the unresponsiveness of government to the public and corporations to consumers than to the greediness of the plaintiffs or their lawyers.
What puzzles me is why companies advertise in these situations. Is there any evidence that these ads in this context are that effective? Even if you assume that the audience does not turn hostile, I wonder whether they really push anybody over the edge toward buying a product or even thinking more favorable about the brand. My guess is that they are not that effective, but companies either believe them to be effective or hate to cede any territory to a competitor, even when it's inconsequential.
It's hard to fault the theatre owners as they're just milking an anxious cow, but I think some civil and not-so-civil disobedience would make them reconsider. Booing is nice. Sneaking in stuff to litter (e.g., newspaper, your own giant coke, a bag of bulk candies, etc.) seems like fun. Organized walk-outs (everyone leaves the theatre when the previews begins and returns at the start of the show) or walk-ins (get everyone to wait outside until the movie starts) would be impressive to see. If people are concerned about losing their seats, your audience-organizer could pass out "seat saves" that could be velcroed or taped onto the seats.
Now, if only they would start a class action suit against parents who bring their under age 3 children to see R-rated movies (and the theatre owners/managers who permit it), I would sign up in a heartbeat. There's nothing that annoys the crap out of me more than listening to kids scream, cry, or ask their parents about what's going on in Natural Born Killers and The Patriot (which I've seen first-hand). Theatres should spend more time screening out infants and toddlers from R-rated movies than some high school couple on a date.
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