Should Theaters Offer Kid-Free Screenings?

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Mark Oakley at Den of Geek says, in no uncertain terms, that it’s high time for theaters to start catering to their adult customers by offering no-kids-allowed shows. What do you think? Until recently, I’d have said it wasn’t necessary. After all, go to a late enough screening, and kids generally aren’t a problem, right?

Wrong.

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My brother and I hit the local multiplex recently to catch the 8:15 Dark Knight
show. Should be a no-brainer on the kid front — late-ish show that lets out well past bedtime on a Monday night; creepy, malevolent villain; loud, blam-heavy soundtrack; PG-13 rating; plus a slew of reviews noting how not-kid-friendly the film is. There’s also Nolan’s previous go, Batman Begins.
Anyone who’s seen it should be aware that his take on the Caped
Crusader isn’t going to be appropriate for youngsters. Yet we saw one couple walk in leading a preschooler by the hand. The kid couldn’t have been over three, and the ticket-taker said that this is quite common.

Few things ruin a movie for me more quickly than a theater full of talking, thrashing, hollering, seat-kicking, popcorn-pitching kids. But is that enough to justify kids-banned shows? As a parent, I want to say "No!" I’m capable of deciding what movies are appropriate for my kids, and what times are appropriate for them to see them. But as a theater patron who’s had more than one show ruined by kids, and who’s seen kids taken into movies where the plainly had no business, I want to say "Of course!"

Clearly, the preferable solution would be for parents to (a) be smarter about what movies are okay for kids, and (b) teach their kids to behave properly in public. Short of miraculous improvement in parenting competence, banning kids at later shows, say anything past 8 or 9 p.m., might be a workable solution. Still, that forces adults to pick between staying out late or suffering with someone else’s ill-behaved offspring Another choice especially with multiplexes, might be simply designate one screen for child-free shows. Surely there are other possibilities as well.

What say the GeekDad readers (and the other GeekDads, for that matter)? Is there a good, workable solution to reach detente between cranky adults and poorly controlled children? Is it inappropriate to even consider no-kids shows? Or is Mark Oakley spot-on in calling for theaters to designate some screens exclusively for the 18+ crowd?

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