If the Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse Theater chain was making traffic laws, nobody would text and drive. They’ve banned for life none other than Madonna after she was allegedly caught texting through the NYFF premiere of 12 Years A Slave. Madonna was reportedly texting away like a teenager on her BlackBerry through the movie’s first half. When asked to stop, she struck back in a manner that indicated she was at least paying some attention to the film: “It’s for business… ENSLAVER!” Now, it’s annoying to sit in a darkened theater with talkers and texters and email-checkers who take you out of the theater experience. It’s kind of cool for Alamo Drafthouse to make this stand, even if it is the dictionary definition of a publicity stunt; Madonna was at NYFF, which isn’t going to ban her, and chances are she probably never even heard of Alamo Drafthouse. But it does bring up an interesting point: How should theaters punish those egregiously self-important people whose texting is almost as obnoxious as taking a phone call in the middle of a movie and not nearly as charming as shouting at the screen during a scary film?
Drafthouse CEO Tim League has been waging a one-man battle against movie theater texting and talking (his no-talking PSA pulled from an irate theater patron went viral). “Until she apologizes to movie fans, Madonna is banned from watching movies @drafthouse,” he Tweeted following the Madonna report. He tells me she’s the first person, famous or otherwise, to be banned from his theater chain pre-emptively based solely on bad behavior. “It’s been my long stated position that it’s inappropriate in any movie, let alone in a premiere type setting – and especially from someone in the business,” he said. League’s move may have started as a joke but he’s sticking to it: “We actually did send a memo to all of our theaters letting them know that if she comes in to let her know she’ll need to apologize and please change her ways.” (Read it here.)