It's the time of the year when hotly-anticipated prestige pictures clog our tiny art house theaters. I'm laying down some ground rules about movie theater seat saving, because I'm sick of having the film ruined by you assholes.

It happened at Broken Embraces and again at Up in the Air and even last night at a 10pm showing of A Single Man, all the yahoos in a packed but tiny theater put me in such a bad mood that I could barely concentrate on the film. Especially here in New York where even buying a ticket days in advance and arriving 45 minutes early may not be enough to guarantee you a good spot on opening weekend. So, everyone, here are the rules. If you can not follow them, then you have to sit in the aisle or wait for everything to come out on DVD and leave the theater for civilized folk.

  • The party for whom the seat is saved must be in the theater. In this age of Fandango, you can't buy tickets for all of your friends, and then send one person early to stake out eight chairs while the rest of the party lollygags about and takes their time getting there. If you are too lazy to get to the theater early, you don't deserve a better seat than everyone who can just because you have someone foolish enough to do your dirty work. This, above all else, is the number one rule.
  • A seat with a coat or bag on it is taken. The universal sign for "this seat is being saved" is a coat and/or bag placed in the seat. Don't shout over seven people, "Is that seat taken?" if there is a coat in it, because the answer is yes, you idiot. To keep the enforcement of this rule consistent, it means your coat and/or bag does not get a seat for a movie ever. You bought one ticket, you and all your shit only gets to use one seat.
  • The only acceptable place to go is to get popcorn or use the toilet. You are not allowed to go make a phone call or wander around or do anything else crazy and, see above, the person must be in the building.
  • You can only save one seat at a time. That is the absolute limit. If there is two of you, then one must go about his business while the other saves the seat. Once he returns, switch roles. If you are with a larger group, only one party can go at a time. Five people can't all go to get movie nachos and use the toilet while one person perches over your person movie fiefdom and shouts "all the seats as far as the eye can see are taken!"
  • No, I will not move over. Sorry, but my friends and I got here before you and, due to the first-come-first-serve nature of movie houses, we get to pick where we sit. We know there are free seats around us, and we have chosen not to move. We will not pick up all of our stuff and our concessions to move over so there will be two empty spots together and you can sit next to your boyfriend. As the holders of these seats, it is our prerogative to do so. If you got here after us, then you have to deal with the seats that are left. If you don't like it, well, you should have arrived earlier.
  • No, I will not watch your stuff. If you come to the movie alone, do not drag me into saving your seat for you while you leave the theater. I am not your slave. It sucks, but you're going to have to pee and get our Twizzlers before selecting your seat. If you don't like it, then get a friend or hire an escort to go to the movies with you and one of you can save a seat—following these rules of course.
  • Don't ask me if a seat is free. If there is no body, coat, or bag in a seat, it is free. Do not ask me if it is free. If it looks empty, then it is. If you want it, it's yours. Also, just cause I'm sitting next to it, don't ask my permission to sit there. I do not own that seat. No one does. It is empty and it is a free country. If you want it, sit your fat ass down and leave us alone. We're trying to enjoy a movie.
  • When the previews start, any save is voided. The seat saving window is closed. This wouldn't have to be strictly enforced except for the Fandango bandits who are hold spots for people not even in the theater yet, while others wander about in the dark spilling popcorn and knocking over our drinks and going "Is this seat taken?" while we're trying to find out about the new Woody Allen movie.

Thank you for listening, and see you at the movies.

[Image via Getty]