Real Life Drama Unfolding at Movie Theater

I never thought I would go to the movies and sit down to enjoy the film, and then get stopped by real life drama unfolding. Yet that’s exactly what happened to me tonight. I only saw 9/10ths of the movie “The Silver Linings Playbook” so someone please fill me in on the first 10-15 minutes.

When you go to the theater, you never know who will be there with you. We all know what happened at the Batman premiere.  The movie I was there to watch was about mental illness, some with anger issues, and obviously at least one of the people who came to watch had the same emotional issue.

My husband and I sat down and soon after, two guys came and sat to my right. The previews were still on and the theater filled up quickly to where there were practically no seats left.

One of the two guys to my right got up and went out – possibly for snacks – I didn’t ask and was gone for a bit. A woman came in and sat right down like she knew the other guy to my right. At first I thought she was just saying hello, because she was having some discussion with the guy. I was playing with my iPhone so I didn’t pay much attention. Perhaps that was my mistake.

The other guy returned with popcorn and a soda and he asked for his seat back. The woman who sat down there refused to budge. She kept repeating the seat was empty when she took it. The guy next to her was fruitlessly explaining his friend was sitting there and just got up to get snacks. Still, the woman refused to budge.

So the guy who was there first, with his popcorn spilling on me, stood directly in front of me as the movie began and started arguing with the woman. She still refused to budge. The guy left and got the usher. The usher stood in front of me, blocking my view of the screen and asked the woman to move. She refused. I told the usher that the other guy had the seat first and so off he went to get the manager. The manager then stood in front of me, arguing with the crazy lady. She would not budge. Then all the people around me started yelling, as I was, that the guy had the seat first and that we were all missing the movie and to start it all over again.

Next the police came in. I explained ONCE AGAIN to the policeman, who stood in front of me blocking my view of the movie that the guy was there first and just went and to get snacks. People around me were yelling it too. The police ordered her to move. She would not budge STILL. The policeman threatened to arrest her for trespassing, but the manager told him not to do that.

The police left and by then I missed 15 minutes of the movie and the insane seat crasher was still next to me. So the man who was originally next to me started yelling at me for not saying anything to her and letting her sit down to begin with. My husband piped up, “Now you are going to blame my wife for this?”

I was trying to fathom how or why a person would make such an issue of a seat and then just become so hostile and defiant. This was not a rowdy football game with people drinking in the stands. This made no sense at all.

I wondered what kind of nerves of steel it took to defy a police ordering you to move. I know I don’t have that in me.

Finally after all of these drama vignettes played out, the woman got up and sat in the back. She was not going to wait for the police to come back with a ticket or an arrest.

I scooted down a seat as my husband had gotten up to complain to the manager outside the theater, and the original guy got his seat back. My husband returned and we watched the rest of the movie. It was fantastic and highly recommended by the way.

My husband had gotten two movie passes while he was out complaining, and after the movie, I also gave the manager a piece of my mind and got two more free movie passes.

I can see why this woman wanted to see a movie that had someone in it with an anger management issue, because she was suffering from the same thing. She was angry, entitled, and did not mind being rude and stealing someone’s seat at all. In southern, polite Houston my friends, this is NOT a usual occurrence. People bend over backwards to be courteous and polite. It would not be unusual to watch people fight to give someone a seat for example. So it was pretty bizarre to watch, and even more annoying to miss the first part of the movie.

Worse yet, I was afraid that the angry, defiant woman would attack me later for speaking up for the original guy to the police and the management.  I didn’t know if she was both angry AND violent. She scared me, I can tell you that. When I saw her in the restroom afterwards, and I made a beeline out of there so fast.

So there you have it. Drama in the seats, and drama on the screen. What a night!


  • Pretty dramatic! You shouldn’t sell yourself short: you had enough chutzpah to tell the police that story more than once!
    RE: the start of the film, as I recall, it was an episode inside the hospital and showed him being released, clearly before he was ready to go. I don’t remember the details, but it seemed as though we were starting in the middle of something we had yet to understand. I was impressed at how well the film captured the reality of living with a person who is mentally ill, and this opening let us see how it might feel (confusing, scary) to think like the mentally ill person. I found the camerawork helped to create this impression as well.

  • Clearly not like the Batman movie but that woman surely had major problems. I can’t understand what has gotten into people.

    • Thanks for writing and reading Robert – I was not comparing to the Batman. It was just to say that you walk into a dark theater and you don’t know who is going to be there. There are lots of crazy people out there unfortunately.

  • There are nutcases everywhere, mostly because our mental health system in this country stinks.

  • Wow! That’s scary and irritating! Scary because someone that defiant could also be crazy enough to do something violent if provoked ( in her mind).
    Glad no one got hurt.

  • I would have been scared that one of those people would pull a gun or something! Yikes!
    Glad it didn’t escalate further than yelling!
    Karen has good advice, take your free ticket, go see the beginning of the movie, leave and see another!

  • this certainly doesn’t sound like the Houston you’ve always described! How awful! And the thing is, it’s hard to sit through another entire movie when you just saw it days ago, even a GREAT one like “Silver Linings Playbook”(which was my favorite movie of the year) The projectionist should have started over, since it seems like so much of the audience had their viewing pleasure interrupted. You may even wait another year before catching on on cable! (although if I got free passes, what I’d do is see another movie that started thirty minutes after SLP and see what I missed and then go to the second movie) What’s scary is that she, this nutjob, acted just like the Jennifer Lawrence character(although I bet she perceived herself more as a Rosa Parks who refused to give up a seat and changed history for the better!) You can’t help but compare it to the Colorado tragedy, when many moviegoers thought that the costumed James Holmes was just part of the hype…that he belonged there.
    So yeah, if I were you, I’d use my free pass to see the beginning of SLP and then go to see something else..I recommend Argo, Flight, The Sessions, or even Life of Pi. And don’t wait too long..go today while the movie is still fresh on your mind!

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