Yelling and Cheering In Movie Theatres

I’m interested in hearing about spontaneous outbursts that Dopers have either contributed to or experienced as passive observers in the dark and exciting arena that is the movie theatre.

Over the course of my surfing history I’ve read several tales where person X has said Y, either in reaction to another patron or to the film itself and, as a result, received applause or laughter, examples of the two main set-ups being:

  1. Obnoxious people are being loud or talking on cellphone and the person who has the balls to yell ‘Turn that fucking phone off’ (or something funnier) receives thunderous applause.

  2. A character in the film being played leaves just enough silence after a line of dialogue for a witty audience member to utter a hilarious response that leaves everyone in stitches.

The reason I ask this is because I have never in my history of moviegoing experienced anything above a hushed ‘Shh’, which is incredibly boring. I suspect that this is predominantly due to being British (spelling it ‘theatre’ should give that away) and thus being part of an incredibly reserved and lip-bitingly hesitant nation. We feel bad enough returning soup, let alone telling some punk to shove his cellphone up his arse, at least if the stereotype is to be believed.

So, I put it to you guys. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard some joker shout? Have you ever seen parents and their screaming child booed out of the theatre because they were dumb enough to bring a toddler to a horror flick? Have you ever called someone on assholery yourself and get applauded? Or did it backfire? Where there any times when the ushers and/or managers join the fray? Were you the person who screamed when The Collector said ‘Death is listening and will take the first man who screams’ in Thunderdome?

Furthermore, what’s the deal with applauding movies themselves? The only time I have ever clapped in the cinema was at the start and end of Goblet Of Fire but that was at the premiere with cast and crew present, so there was at least some obligation. Other than that, endings, scenes where the good guy kicks butt, moments when the woman tells the pig of a boss to stuff the job have all gone by without applause. What movie moments have you seen receive a huge cheer as they unfolded on the big screen?


As far as incidents involving people talking in the theater, whether on a phone or with the person next to them, I’m usually the first to tell them to “shut the fuck up!” Normally I’m pretty laid back, but nothing gets my panties in a twist like rude people in the theater. As far as people yelling back at the screen, I don’t recall witnessing this, but it would get the exact same reaction from me as the aforementioned. This isn’t open mic night at the Improv, so shut your piehole and leave the entertainment to the movie we all paid to see.

The two that come to mind are (put in spoilers as they describe the endings) …


  1. In Rocky IV (yeah, you read that right) when Rocky beat Drago. The kids in the theater (my friends included) were cheering like it was a concert.

  2. In LOTR: FOTR when Aragorn beheaded the huge uruk-hai at the end. Then at the very end, when Frodo said “I’m glad you’re with me” and it faded out, some kid yelled “WHAT???” I suppose he thought it would have a more closed-off ending.[/spoiler]

Oh don’t get me wrong I’m totally with you. I hate interruptions of any kind and get irritated even if my friend starts whispering something like ‘Oh he’s the guy from Aliens’ in my ear. I’m more than glad that my movie-going experience has been virtually asshole and amateur comedian free, I’m just interested in how other people have reacted to assholes and amateur comedians, the rate of such occurrences, if it varies much by location, etc. Some of the stories I vaguely remember reading on the Internet are quite amusing, if not to the people watching the movie at the time.

Good Night and Good Luck received applause twice during the movie and once at the end, when I saw it. I initiated the first round of applause. It was after Murrow’s “We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home” speech, and the audience had that near-tangible energy of needing to express appreciation/agreement that you feel after a really excellent theater performance. There were only about forty people in the theater, but the applause was thunderous.

Before so many movies, there’s that THX promo. Loud, droning sound, and a huge THX emblazoned across the entire screen. Fade to black. Then a smaller “” fades into view in the middle of the screen for a moment. An audience members says, “Oh, so that’s where I can reach them.”. The rest of the audience laughs.

At the Vancouver International Film Festival (and I suspect also at other film festivals), it’s customary to applaud at the end of a film. I don’t know why this is. I does add to the fun of the festival, though.

Seeing “Casablanca” with the right crowd is an amazing experience. The cheering doesn’t stop.

*“I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.”

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine.”

“Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.”

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”*

The funniest thing I ever heard was during a revival screening of Return of the Jedi. When
Vader says: [Luke] is with them [on the moon]
The Emperor asks : How do you know
Vader: He is my son I have felt him…

Some one shouted out “Sick Dude, you felt up your son?”

It took a while for the laughter to subside. I can’t watch that scene without laughing.

I remember, watching ‘star trek generations’ in the theater…

At least half of the audience cheering (and a few people whooping loudly) when the Enterprise crew destroy the sneaky Klingon Bird of Prey that was otherwise about to punch through their shields and cripple/devastate them in about 3 seconds.

It was particularly funny because on screen, at around the same time, Data, with his brand new emotion chip installed, pumps his arm and goes “Yes! Whoohoo!!” or something like that. And some of the other officers glare at him, not saying anything. As if to remind him, ‘We’re starfleet. We don’t cheer because we killed people, even if they’re treacherous klingon dissidents.’

There was a bit of an awkward moment in the theater when that moment sunk it, and then the fans laughed it off. We’re not in the twenty-fourth century yet. We get to laugh and cheer.


I can confess to shouting “Not even at gunpoint!” after trailers for some coming attractions. You know thw type: “THIS SUMMER, JEAN-PAUL VAN DAMME IS LOUIS PASTEUR!”

I’m one of the first people to shush others who don’t understand common courtesy in a theater, and I am not at all afraid to escalate it to shouting “Shut the fuck up” if necessary. I’ve been applauded for that.

But the moment this thread brought immediately to mind was in Dolores Claiborne. There’s a scene where Dolores is telling Vera how she suspects her husband is abusing her daughter. Vera’s trying to find out how far it’s gone, asking questions, Dolores is weepy and distracted, and Vera finally says “Dolores–has he fucked her yet?”

My friend Matty let out an entirely involuntary “Doh!!!” at that, then turned bright red and scrunched down as far as his seat would allow when the entire audience laughed. Broke the tension the movie had built up, at the very least.

The other one I can think of was when I saw The Patriot. I had gone to the movies by myself, and therefore had no one to share my witty comment with when Mel Gibson comes galloping up the line of soldiers, carrying the flag. They all start shouting “Huzzah! Huzzah!” I started giggling to myself, trying my best to hold it in, and eventually a guy two seats over leaned to me and asked me what was so funny. I just looked at him and whispered “Whassup?” (this was the same time the Bud commercials were still really funny). He started laughing, told his friend, who also started laughing, and soon a quarter of the theater were all snickering quietly, trying not to ruin what was supposed to be a very powerful moment in the movie.

Oh, and I used to run a Rocky Horror cast, so I’m going to leave all those moments out. :smiley:

I saw Jaws in the theatre when it first came out. There was huge applause when…Brody shoots the tank and the sharks blows up.

Spoiler-boxed for the 3 people left in the world who haven’t seen the movie

How about in bad movies where you didn’t pay squat to see them? Two incidents that were fun/funny to the people there:

  1. Back in college, my now-husband and I went to see a midnight showing of the bad, bad “horror” film Shocker. (I bet Mitch Pileggi wishes he could expunge all records of that film from existence.) This was at a movie theater in the center of our large university’s dorm section, and all tickets were promotional freebies. (IIRC, they were practically stuffing them at unsuspecting college students, or maybe that was for when we saw Tremors, which we greatly preferred.) Anyway, the audience was about what you’d expect - drunk college students not expecting anything where dialogue even matters much. The villain, a serial killer who comes back from the dead after being executed via electric chair, has killed someone and the victim is So. Obviously. Dead. A cop checks for a pulse in the throat and most of the people in the audience burst out laughing that he’d even check. Later on, there’s another victim who’s discovered and (going on faint memories here) IIRC there’s blood all over the freaking place, maybe even a mangled throat or something. Cop is looking at the corpse, and my now-husband bursts out during that “tense” moment with, “Check his pulse!” The audience cracks up.
  2. For high school graduation, my high school had a bunch of “please come have fun with us rather than going out drinking and getting yourself killed” events that entire night. One of the last events in the wee hours of pre-dawn, attended by a ton of hyper-on-sugar-and-caffeine graduates, was a showing of Dirty Dancing. Most every student had seen it by then since it wasn’t the newest of films. Those of us in the audience amused ourselves by singing along full blast with the songs.

I don’t understand clapping at the end of movies and I’m seeing it more and more.

One time (other than 100+ Rocky Horror showings) I was guilty of cheering in the middle of a movie. When Kirk finally died.

There’s a difference between beting a dweeb in the movie theatre who’s chatting about the Steelers during the love scene and the spontaneous ejaculation that comes when you’re utterly engrossed. (I also yell at my TV. Especially when Luke from Gilmore Girls is doing something stupid.)

The two best in my experience:

I went to see Dances With Wolves at the cheap second-run theatre. They played a preview of White Fang (I think, some Jack London adaptation). In one scene the kid is being menaced by a bear and he dives under a big pile of logs to escape. So then the movie starts but immediately the projector breaks. The manager announces that they can fix it, but then they’ll have to run through all the preivews again; they can’t just start at the spot where it busted. 20 minutes later we’re sitting through the same previews we saw before when the bear shows up again to threaten the Jack London hero. The guy behind me yells “Go for the logs!” right as the kid dives under them, and the entire theatre erupted in laughter.

The other one was watching Say Anthing in the movie theatre at the Cornell University student union. This is Orientation week, several days before classes start, so the only people on campus are brand-new freshmen (like me) and a handful of upperclassmen who are so gung ho about the school that they joined various activities that demanded they return to campus early. So the movie gets to the part where Diane is wandering around the party and she bumps into that girl who uses all the air quotes, who says something like “I know we were too ‘competitive’ in high school, but if it wasn’t for ‘Diane Court wow’ I never would have gotten into ‘Cornell.’” The cheering was the loudest thing I’d ever heard in my life. Seriously, I thought the roof might collapse.


In Revenge of the Sith, during the final battle on the lava field. Annakin gets his leg cut off from beneath him and falls into the lava, there was this split second of silence and some kid from the back of the theatre yelled out, in an absolutely perfect Nelson voice, “Ha, Ha! He fell in the fire” Apparently, the Star Wars and Simpsons fan bases have a lot of crossover, because the entire audience cracked up over that one.

And an old, favorite story among my family is the time my father took my sisters and I to see Harry and the Hendersons–a silly little family movie about a bigfoot who is taken in by a family. The final scene has the family returning Harry to the wild to keep him safe, and they stand there despondently as Harry fades into the forest among the other bigfoots. This was 1987, so my younger sister would have been 6. As the screen fades to black, there’s that moment of silence between a film ending and the house lights going up and people starting to gather and go. In that dark, silent, somewhat poignant moment there starts a wail. And not just any wail, but the earthshattering, heartbreaking, absolutely forlon wail of a traumatized 6 year old girl. It sounded like the low, monotone keen you’d hear in some documentary about third world grieving ceremonies. People in the theater snickered at first, but quickly left, avoiding eye contact, as she just kept going. She cried the whole way home. We still tease her about it.

In A History of Violence, when quiet Jack finally hits back against the alpha-male bully who’d been tormenting him - not only hits back but beats the shit out of him, breaking his nose, smashing his face until bloody, etc…many people, including myself, cheered.

Yes, it was a brutal bit of violence to be cheering, but the poor kid had taken so much shit and it was so good to see him put that asshole in his place.

othing bugs me more than when people clap during a movie? WTF? Oh yeah I forgot, the director is going to hear your applause and feel such a sense of accomplishment. :rolleyes: The only time one should clap during (or after a movie for that matter) is if you are watching said movie at Sundance (or some other movie festival) and the director, producer, actor or key grip are actually in the same room with you.

Now with that rant off my chest, the funniest outbreak I’ve heard was during Episode I, it was the first showing at midnight in a big theater in Vancouver. As soon as “A long time ago, in a galaxy far,far away…” came on the screen some guy yelled out “kick his ass Luke!”. The whole theater erupted.

Gold Jerry, gold!!


“Being,” not “beting,” you moron.


That was the first one that came to mind for me.

The second was watching Risky Business at the Co-ed Theater in the heart of Campustown at the University of Illinois. When Joel finishes his interview with the man from Princeton, puts on his Ray-Bans, and says, “Well - looks like it’s University of Illinois!” the entire theater erupted!