Why French People Rioted During An Annabelle Screening

Audiences react to horror movies in unpredictable fashion. Some cower in their seats. Many talk back to the people on the screen, warning them that someone’s behind them, or that they better not do whatever it looks like they are about to do. (Spoiler: The characters on screen usually do it, anyway.) And in France, horror crowds apparently behave like animals, throwing popcorn and attempting to rip the seats out of the theater’s floor.

This, at least, is how teenagers are reacting during screenings of John R. Leonetti’s Annabelle, according to The Guardian UK. The paper reports that movie theater managers in Marseille, Strasbourg and Montpellier have cancelled screenings of the haunted-doll horror film because teenage patrons in the multiplexes have been "fighting, throwing popcorn and even ripping up theatre seats." But it has nothing to do with the content on the screen. It’s mainly just kids being kids.

Didier Tarizzo, the owner of the Les 3 Palmes cinema in Marseilles, told the media that hordes of unruly patrons flooded his theater on a Saturday, and behaved like … well, like teenagers.

Some didn’t have the most elementary notion of how to behave. They were throwing popcorn and talking at the top of their voices or walking round."

And yet, this isn’t a new phenomenon. The Guardian reports that in 2012, screenings of the horror films Paranormal Activity and Sinister also had to be cancelled because of unruly audiences being disruptive in the theaters. Don’t they know that they are supposed to look like this when they watch the Paranormal Activity movies?

French film critics weighing in on the controversy complained to the Guardian about teenagers needing to blow off steam, so they head to the theater and enjoy being disruptive. The local French managers like Tarizzo, who have no patience for this type of behavior, claim it’s "not up to me to teach young people how to respect the law," adding, "What worried me was that a cinemagoer irritated by all the noise could have had a go at an adolescent."

Don’t they know, it could have been much worse?

Annabelle is in theaters as we speak. Please leave your chairs where they are, ok?

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.