I go to the cinema a lot. Sometimes I go with friends, sometimes I go on my own. But whether I am going to the cinema as part of a group, or I am flying solo, there is one thing I always like to do, and that is book my ticket in advance.
The reason I like to book my ticket in advance is because I like to choose where I am going to sit. And today I am going to let you into a little secret – I almost always sit in the same seat.
OK, so not the exact same seat – my local cinema has over 20 screens – but usually in the same spot. It doesn’t matter if I am watching a movie in Screen 1 or Screen 11, I will always sit in what I believe is the best seat in the auditorium.
I have a formula. I know, it might sound crazy, but please hear me out – I have a formula for where to sit in the cinema, to ensure I get to sit in prime position.
My choice of seat gives me a great view of the screen, helps me avoid some of the ‘distractions’ caused by other guests, and gives me the option to not sit directly next to anyone else. I am not an anti-social person, but I do like to make use of the armrests without encroaching on anyone else’s personal space, so being able to distance myself in the cinema can be useful.
So, how do I do it?
Improving the cinema experience
OK, before I talk about how to pick the best seat in the house, let me begin by highlighting something which I know is a huge issue for people – overcrowded cinemas, packed with noisy and inconsiderate guests.
We’ve all experienced it, and have all become frustrated with a visit to the cinema being interrupted by rude people. Sometimes it is due to people talking, other times it is due to someone refusing to turn off their mobile phone – either way, it’s annoying.
If this kind of thing has put you off going to the cinema, don’t let it! The simple solution is to rethink WHEN you go to the cinema.
The worst time to go to the cinema is during peak times, which tends to be weekday nights (specifically Friday nights) or Saturday afternoon/Saturday evening. These are the times when the cinema is at its busiest, and this when you are most likely to encounter some kind of distraction or disruption to your screening due to inconsiderate guests.
The best times to go to the cinema is ‘off-peak’, which is either during the day on Monday to Friday, or on a Saturday morning. An early screening on a Saturday morning is the perfect time to avoid large crowds of people – especially if it is the first screening of the day, as most people are still at home.
I appreciate that some people have very limited time, so these options aren’t always available, but if you do have some flexibility in your schedule, then use it! Simply switching to a less popular time can make a huge difference and will stop you from being put off by some of the problems that come with the big screen experience.
Right, now it’s time to talk seats!
How to pick the best seat at the cinema
If you follow the advice above, it will not only ensure you have a better viewing experience, it will also provide you with more seating options when you come to book your tickets. Screens that are less popular have more seats, and this will ensure you can pick the right seat for you.
But to ensure you get the best seat, you need to start booking early. If you know you are planning to go and watch a new movie, and you know what day you plan to see it, then make sure you pre-book your seat as soon as you can.
If you don’t book your seat until the very last minute, then you are reducing the seating options available to you. This in turn can mean you are not getting access to the best seat.
And to ensure you do get the best seat, you need to think about the layout of the auditorium, and where NOT to sit. So, let’s start here first!
Picture a basic auditorium in your mind. Think about the way the seats are laid out, and divide them into three sections: Front, middle, and back, with stairs on the right and left. The front is closest to the screen, the back is furthest away, and the middle is in between.
When picking your seat, DON’T choose any seat near the front. These seats are too close to the screen, and will not give you the optimal view of the movie.
Sitting near the front is also a bad idea, because these seats tend to become populated with people once the film has started. Anyone coming in late, will often gravitate towards seats at the front of the auditorium, to save them having to stumble around in the dark as they look for a spare seat.
So, rule out all seats at the front. You should also rule out seats towards the back of the auditorium.
While the back offers a much better view of the screen, it tends to be the place where disruptive guests often sit. Those who fancy a chat, who want to mess around, and those in large groups who have no intention of actually watching the movie, tend to sit towards the rear of the auditorium.
In terms of viewing the movie, the back is good, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is the prime place – it’s not! You will find the most disruption comes from the back.
The prime position in the cinema is in the middle. And how do I know this for sure? Because this is where the premium seats are located.
Some cinemas have premium seats in their auditoriums. These seats usually cost a little more than standard seats, and are notable by being of a different quality.
These seats look a little more comfortable than standard seats, and this ‘comfort’ is what guests are paying for. But guests are mostly paying a higher price for these seats because the cinema chains know these are the best positions in the house.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as premier seats. You paid for a ticket, then sat wherever you wished.
The reason premier seats were introduced is because cinema chains realised these were the most popular seats in the house. And if people liked to sit on these seats, then it meant they could be convinced to pay a premium to sit here.
So, the best seats in the house are in the middle of the auditorium. The cinema chains know this, and that’s why they want you to pay a little extra for these seats.
But don’t pay the extra. Instead, sit as close to these seats as possible.
If the premier seats take up Row E, F, and G, then sit on Row H. Whatever row is directly behind the premier seats, this is the row you want to sit on.
You will benefit from sitting in the middle of the auditorium, but you won’t be paying any extra. Sure, the seats in front might look super comfy, but they aren’t all that different to the regular seats, so save your money!
So, you now have the best row in the auditorium, but you still need to narrow down the best seat. Surely, it’s the seat in the middle, right? Wrong!
Don’t sit in the middle of the row. Everyone thinks this is the best place to sit, so will try to sit as close to the middle seat as possible, resulting in a cluster of people all next to each other. Instead, pick a seat that is towards the end of the row – either left or right.
But don’t just pick left or right without some further consideration. There is one very important factor to consider – the position of the main entrance/exit.
If you enter the auditorium on the right-hand side, then pick your seat towards the left. If you enter from the left, then you need to pick your seat toward the right. In short: Always pick the side furthest away from the main entrance.
The side nearest the main entrance is always the busiest, and this is due to a couple of different factors.
Firstly, if you are booking a seat online, the computer system will usually book you closest to the main entrance. The seats are all numbered, with the first seat (seat No. 1) being nearest to the door. So, the computer will start booking seats numerically, meaning it will clump people together.
Secondly, as a general rule of thumb, we humans are pretty lazy. When booking seats, we don’t want to be too far away from the door, so we will automatically choose seats closest to the entrance.
Similar to what I said about sitting near the front, people will pick seats near the door because they may need to access them in the dark. To ensure you are sat in a quieter, less crowded position, pick your seat furthest away from the entrance/exit. Less people will choose this option.
So, you know what row to sit on, and you know what side to sit on, but which seat do you pick? Simple: The second seat in from the end of the row.
Let’s say you are sat on Row H (the first row behind the premier seats), you are on the left-hand side (the side furthest away from the entrance), and the seats are numbered 1 to 22, with 1 being on the right and 22 being on the left. You should book seat No. 21.
Why? Because if you book No. 21, no one will book seat No. 22. Essentially this will give you two seats for the price of one.
This means you will have a spare seat next to you, which is perfect for resting your popcorn on, and if you need to go to the toilet at any time during the movie, you won’t interrupt anyone when you get up.
Plus, if the person sitting in seat No. 20 proves to be disruptive, or starts getting familiar with your armrest, then you can always move along to the end seat without any problems.
By sitting on Row H Seat No. 21 (or whatever this seat is in your respective screening), you will be sat on the best row, you will have a good view of the screen, you will be away from disruptive guests, will have easy access to the stairs, and you will have given yourself twice the amount of room. And if you have attended an ‘off-peak’ screening (which is highly advised), then you will have increased your chances of booking this seat.
But, how do you know that no one will book that lone seat next to you? That’s a good question – but trust me, it will almost certainly remain empty.
Guests attending a screening as a group or in pairs won’t book that solo seat next to you as it would mean splitting up the group. As for anyone coming to the cinema on their own, it is unlikely they will book it either, because when you go to the cinema on your own, you tend to want to sit away from crowds of people, so you won’t choose a seat next to someone else.
I can’t always guarantee that you will get the best seat in the house, but if you follow my advice, then you will certainly have a better experience. Avoiding peak times is super important, so keep this in mind, but choosing the right seat is key.
You may have never considered where to sit before, but next time you go to the cinema, I guarantee you will think about it. Don’t rely on pot luck to choose your seat, work your way through the formula and thank me for it later!
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about securing the best seat in the cinema. The method I use is tried and tested, and has been my formula for many, many years, so I hope it works for you too.
But please remember this one thing: Don’t be stealing my seat!