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No Talking Or Phones Warning
"If you have an emergency, step into the hallway. Otherwise... IT CAN WAIT!"

A form of Paratext used in cinemas and live theater, that reminds audiences to turn off cell phones and refrain from conversation during the performance. They range in complexity from a simple oral or written request for silence, to faux-trailers for nonexistent movies that get interrupted by noise from the audience to show how distracting such racket can be.

The cinematic versions, produced by theater chains, are formally known as "policy trailers". Older versions sometimes mention crying babies rather than cell phones, asking that noisy infants be taken to the lobby. Warnings against smoking note  and littering are optional but recommended. And of course, there is the obligatory, "In case of fire, walk quietly to the nearest exit. This notice required by law."

Theme parks have similar spiels before many rides and shows — keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, don't put on the 3D glasses until you're seated in the theater, etc. Again, these can be handled in creative, funny ways.


In-Universe Examples/Parodies

  • Spoofed in Tampopo, in which a Yakuza gangster does the reminder at the start of the movie and not-so-subtly hints at violent punishment for offenders.
  • Spoofed in the The Simpsons episode "Jaws Wired Shut" with a theater running a graphic Itchy and Scratchy sketch, "To Kill a Talking Bird".
  • Homestar Runner featured a "No rocket launchers" warning in a movie theater, "Because no one wants to watch a smoldering crater."
  • Parodied in God Bless America, where Frank and Roxy shoot people in a movie theater for talking on their phones, throwing popcorn, putting their legs up on the seats in front of them, and generally being pests. Frank proceeds to thank the one woman they leave alive for not talking during the feature and for turning off her cell phone, much in the style of one of these policy trailers.
  • Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me movie begins with one of his older stand-up routines, asking people to turn them off then relating the story of someone answering their phone in a theater next to him with, "Who dis?"
    "Not only was he willing to talk to someone on the phone, he was willing to talk to anyone on the phone."
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures movie How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a movie screening is preceded by the warning "No smoking cigarettes in the theater". A giant, anthropomorphic lit cigarette leaves the venue, grumbling all the way, as the kids who were seated near it cheer.
  • The opening title caption of the Futurama episode "Godfellas": "Please turn off all cell phones and tricorders"
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters has one by Mastodon. And it is awesome.
    • Among other things, they threaten to cut your face off for talking during the film, tell you to throw your baby into traffic because the film isn't suitable for children, and declare that if you are caught illegally taping the film, they will tear your wife in half.

Live Theatre Spiels

  • Cirque du Soleil examples:
    • The preshow warning by Mystere's emcee Moha-Samedi and his bird puppet is called back to twice via Non-Ironic Clown Brian Le Petit. First, in a blackout skit he tries to take a photo of the whole audience and when Moha-Samedi chews him out over it offers to take his photo (tricking him into stepping off a high ledge in the process). Later, when he gains control of the puppet, he tells the audience that they are now free to smoke, take pictures, and take their clothes off before Moha-Samedi gets it back.
    • The adults-only show Zumanity has the band's singers sing the preshow spiel. Perhaps the sexiest example ever!
    • KA features a dialogue-free warning in which an actor in the audience is caught breaking the rules: using flash photography, having his cell phone on, and smoking (in that order). Unfortunately, it's the show's bad guys who catch him, and in turn they throw his camera into a giant pit...then his cell phone...then him.
  • Broadway has been trying to get these to be more interesting in recent years, in an ineffectual attempt to get people to pay attention and actually DO it. One way is getting celebrities associated with the show to provide a recorded announcement:
    • Co-writer Harvey Fierstein did the honors for the 2010 revival of La Cage aux folles.
    • A David Mamet spiel precededed the Broadway premiere of American Buffalo — complete with a Precision F-Strike.
    • Julie Andrews, who voiced Queen Lillian in the movies, recorded a spiel for Shrek -- The Musical that warns that an ogre will drag anyone using a cellphone "Far, far away" (emphasis theirs).
  • The Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show suggested the audience set their phones on vibrate.
  • Spamalot tells the audience to let your phones ring willy-nilly before reminding you that most of the characters in the show are heavily-armed knights who can and will drag you on stage and impale you.
  • At least one regional production of Urinetown had an actor planted in the audience whose cell phone rang during the pre-show message - causing the police to drag him away.
  • Many productions of Hair have one of the hippies remind the audience that there were no cell phones in 1969, so please turn them off in order to maintain the illusion of the show.
  • The Las Vegas production of The Phantom of the Opera had the Phantom doing the preshow voiceover and warning that if anyone broke the rules, he would not be responsible for the consequences...
  • Another technique is using sound effects to make it seem like phones are actually going off in the audience before an official announcement; at The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe this actually tied into the sound design for the show itself.
  • One of the Maryland renaissance-festival acts will collect ringing phones in a glass jar with other phones (most of which are broken already).
  • The musical Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know began with the warning being delivered in the manner of an in-flight safety lecture.
  • The DVD of Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) includes a warning during this segment about oxygen masks falling from the ceiling, and a remind that if you are at the theater with a child to make sure you put your own mask on first and let the little bugger fend for himself.
  • In The Frogs, the Invocation and Instructions to the Audience, among other things, has the leads sing for the audience to remember to not open candy wrappers, not get up for the bathroom in the middle of the show, and to turn off their cellphones. The last one is accompanied by the sound of a phone ringing and them reacting with disgust, only for it to be revealed that it's one of their own phones (the owner of the phone proceeds to run off the stage answering the call, with "Can you hear me now? How about now?"). The instructions also get a bit meta and bizarre, as they also instruct the audience to react positively to the jokes, to not shout, "What?" in response to lines not understood, and not to fart for lack of oxygen. There's also a plea not to swim ("the theater's a temple, not a gym!") which is a reference to the first production of the show, held in the Yale swimming pool.

Movie Theater Policy Trailers

  • AMC has some really clever ones. One involves Martin Scorsese directing a woman kissing her child good night because she talked through his last movie. Another involves a Wuxia-type movie stopping in mid-fight because there's a cell phone ringing.
    • Another plays like the trailer for a nonexistent Disney animated flick about a bald eagle ... at least until a ringtone distracts her when she's trying to save her father from vultures, and gets them both toasted by a volcano. A featherless, scorched-looking eagle appears at the end, giving the audience an affronted look.
    • Yet another features a man surrounded by a cloud of viral-video and Adobe Flash game animations, which groan in disappointment when he tells them to stay in the lobby while he's watching the movie.
  • Regal Cinemas has a warning at the ticket booth when you purchase tickets that says, "The Angry Birds have now entered a no-fly zone."
  • A trailer for the 2011 film The Muppets is staged like one of these, with Piggy and Kermit sitting in a theater and being annoyed by other Muppets' use of cell phones, a microwave oven (Swedish chef) and drums (Animal, of course) in the audience.
  • There's one that starts as a trailer for Finding Nemo in 3D, but all the characters to get scared when the guy on the cell phone talks about having sushi for dinner. Then Bruce the Shark eats him.
  • Mobile phone company Orange has a long-running British campaign that depicts real films or actors getting totally messed up by Orange sponsorship, usually centering the focus of the film on Orange or phones in general with no regard to the plot or setting - thereby combining reverse psychology with movie cross-promotion. For example, a 2011-2012 ad features The Muppets movie being promoted as "The Orange Show", much to Kermit's disgust. Or another example were the company forces a movie set in the wild west to include mobiles. The punchline to all of these ads is, "Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie. Turn it off now".
  • Drive-in theaters use a version that instructs audiences to keep vehicle headlights off, parking brakes engaged, and other necessary courtesies and safety rules in force.
  • If you go to a AMC/Cinemark/Regal (most of the United States) movie theater, you might see a campaign backed by Sprint reminding people to turn off their phones, with the tagline, "It takes a lot of phone calls to make a movie. And only one to ruin it."
  • The Alamo Drafthouse, a local theater chain centered in Austin, Texas, is famous for its strict "you talk or phone/text, we throw your ass out" policy. One of them actually achieved national recognition when it was featured on The Consumerist. Here's the censored version, here's the NSFW version.
  • No-Smoking variant: A memorable one was simply a very short clip from the movie RoboCop 2 where Robo surrounds a guy's head with bullet holes, he holsters his weapon, and as the cigarette drops from the terrified punter's mouth, Robo calmly says, "Thank you... for not smoking."
  • The Movieplex chain had such a trailer featuring Mr. Bean smoking from a cigar, a pipe and a bong, talking on a mobile phone, operating a vacuum cleaner and serving cocktails.
  • Before most films, the AFI Silver theater in Silver Spring, Maryland shows a short clip of famous directors discussing the theater and the institute. Lately they've added an outtake from the series featuring Edward Zwick's cell phone actually going off while filming his segment to serve as the "turn off your phones" reminder.
  • Cinema screenings of the Doctor Who episode "The Day of the Doctor" had a specially filmed preshow warning where the Doctor's ally Strax (who is otherwise completely absent from the episode itself) lectures the audience on cinema etiquette in an in-universe manner ("Your feeble human minds are not so disciplined!"), showing that phoning (as it only opens up a communication channel to the enemy), talking (which hinders the consumption of food) and digital piracy ("The greatest of all war crimes!") will get you Strapped to an Operating Table. There is one human cinema etiquette he approves of at the end, though: eating popcorn... if only because popcorn is a living, sentient organism, fulfilling his sadism.
  • And even the GEICO camel knows to turn off your cell phone.
  • Bennett Miller directed the Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man trailer that ran in the late '90s/early Noughts.
  • There was one based on I, Robot, featuring Sonny saying (paraphrased): "Welcome. Although I have nothing against the use of advanced technology, please turn off all mobile phones."
  • Mand Ms had a policy trailer disguised as an action/comedy starring the Spokescandies. Red was in the middle of defusing a Time Bomb when the cellphone goes off, and he storms off in annoyance while the bomb is still going.

Theme Park Spiels

  • Muppet*Vision 3D has Sam the American Eagle deliver seating instructions at the end of the preshow video. Remember to walk all the way to the end of the aisle to take your seat — "Stopping in the middle is distinctly unpatriotic!" Gonzo helps out by showing us the consequences of wearing 3D glasses before you enter the theater.
  • The Department of Redundancy Department kicks in at Honey, I Shrunk the Audience: "But please, do not put on the safety goggles [3D glasses] until you are safely seated safely inside the theater safely." Right before the film starts, an Imagination Institute attendant notes that there will be no smoking, cell phone use or — just as a stray laser hits the podium, causing it to smoke a bit — flash photography.
  • At The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios, as a cheeky reminder that people with certain health conditions can't ride, Grampa protests that he's fit enough to go on the new Krustyland ride before having a stroke, heart attack, etc. in succession, and is told to take care of Maggie, who didn't make the height requirement. (This sets up a Brick Joke in the actual ride.) As Sideshow Bob's treachery is revealed, he threatens us with the last thing we'll ever see before we board the ride/death trap: "A mandatory safety video!" Aaaaaah! Said safety video is a suitably gory Itchy & Scratchy short.

Other

  • Non-entertainment example: Most college instructors include a "set phones off/to vibrate" warning in their course syllabi, and insist on their deactivation during tests, if not all lectures. As smartphone functions become more diverse and potentially-distracting, more professors are banning them from class altogether.
  • At the Discworld Convention Maskerade, the standard warning is "If you have a portable clacks tower, please set it to 'Mime'."
  • Older Than They Think: When a scientist said that the 'pocket telephone' would be a future technology in 1919, a newspaper cartoon accurately pointed out that it might well go off in embarrassing situations such as at the theatre or at a wedding.
  • In the Russian trivia team game "What? Where? When?", it is not rare for the first question in a game (or after a break) to be in some way connected to cell phones - with a reminder for the teams following.


Movie Superheroes Wear BlackFilm TropesNovelization
No Phones TonightPhone TropesNo, You Hang Up First
No Animals Were HarmedParatextNot Named in Opening Credits

alternative title(s): Policy Trailer
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