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Cheering stifled at 'Cheering Format' screenings of 'Avengers: End Game' in Japan

16 Comments
By Ben K, grape Japan

Unlike movie theaters in many parts of the world where audiences often cheer and react quite vocally to the images on screen, the only noise you are likely to hear in a Japanese movie theater is the rustle of a paper bag, popcorn munching and the occasional cough or a sneeze. Talking in movie theaters is strongly discouraged, and every film begins with an announcement on manners reminding audiences of this fact. Together with the practice of staying in your seat until the lights come on (regardless of whether or not there's a post-credits scene), these are the aspects of moviegoing in Japan which often surprise foreign visitors.

'Cheering Format' Showings

However, in recent years, Japanese movie theaters have implemented special showings of popular films where cheering is not only allowed, but encouraged. According to a 2016 article in the Mainichi Newspaper, the trend started with anime films around 2011 and then moved into live action films. Some anime films, like "KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm" were specifically made for fans to sing along to, encouraging such special movie showings. In addition to cheering and singing, you'll also see fans waving light sticks and cosplayers dressed up as their favorite characters.

'Avengers: End Game'

The blockbuster hit "Avengers: End Game" which is still going strong in Japan, has seen "cheering format" showings on a very large scale, with theater chains implementing them both in major cities and more rural areas.

However, according to an entry on popular Twitter aggregation site Togetter, fans' experiences at such showings have been a very mixed bag, with complaints overshadowing the few reports of successfully implemented showings. The worst seems to have been in rural areas where both audiences and theater operators may have been insufficiently prepared.

Lack of information

For example, Twitter user Maeda's day at the movies was ruined by audience members who didn't know they were in a special showing.

"I went to a cheering format showing of 'Avengers: End Game.' With people yelling 'Shut up' or 'Shut up, old woman!' to those who were cheering, I thought that people's manners were terrible. I thought people should come to these only after checking the rules of the cheering format showing. Apparently, this being a rural area, they said they didn't know what a cheering format showing was, so the theater staff warned them and they left.

"I've been to many cheering format showings and I know what they're about. People who were cheering at that showing were doing it normally, and they were rather on the quiet side... so when I heard (those complaints), I couldn't cheer any more. And then someone else jumped on the complaint bandwagon and said:'Shut up,' too. I was like, 'What's going on here?' The staff had to warn him too.

"Even though I was really looking forward to it, I ended up wishing I hadn't gone at all. I wanted to cheer and enjoy myself more. It was the worst. When it comes to rural areas, if you don't post signs explaining what they're about or hand out fliers listing up the rules, it's tough going. This is the fist time I've experienced this so it's quite a shock (...)"

Things were far worse for Twitter user Maccha: "The cheering format showing of 'Avengers: End Game' was the worst. I wish I hadn't gone and I'm afraid of going back to that theater and seeing those people again. I've read many tweets about the same problem with the cheering format showing of 'Avengers: End Game' but I also had people telling me 'Shut up' and insulting me.

Apparently, these insults continued throughout the showing and even escalated to taunting after the manager came in to warn the misbehaving audience members when Maccha complained.

"The manager can see the seating area through a camera, so he or she can notice this happening and do something about it. Or they can post signs explaining it's a cheering format showing or tell their staff to warn audience members who misbehave. The official site tries to sell these special showings by making announcements and inviting people to come...but when you go, you get bombarded with curses and insults as if you were doing something wrong? I think that's ridiculous. I went to a cheering format showing because I wanted to cheer for the 'Avengers' but now I'm hurting inside and I can't even think about the movie without remembering what happened. I feel so sad..."

In all fairness to the theaters, whether such showings succeed or fail is partly dependent on the makeup of the audience. However, considering the moviegoing culture in Japan, it's probably a good idea for theaters to do everything they can to inform the audience, if not encourage cheering directly.

Nobody cheering

Whether or not audiences knew what they were getting into, it seems that some cheering format showings had very little cheering going on.

Another Twitter user said: "My thoughts on my experience at the cheering format showing of 'End Game' at Yokohama Lalaport. | NOBODY WAS CHEERING!! | I ended up holding back my tears and it was just like a normal showing."

Successful showings

Of course, not all reports of cheering format showings were negative. Either by coincidence in the nature of the audience which attended or through careful planning and coordination by the theaters, there were highly successful showings where fans really went all out and had themselves a blast.

For example, take a look at the scene at the Kawasaki CINECITTA':

Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 10.32.59.png

"I went to the cheering format showing of 'Avengers: End Game' at CINECITTA' in Kawasaki! | (...) I was able to enjoy the movie in the most awesome and most ideal viewing format possible! | Thanks, guys, for a great time!"

It also seems to help when theaters have a staff member who also happens to be a fan, has a sense of humor and knows how to talk to a crowd, as one audience member tweeted.

"My thoughts on the cheering format showing of 'End Game' at Nakano Grand Cinemas | There were about 15 audience members | Before the film started, a staff member gave an explanation (I'm working from memory): | 'I hear that the marathon film screenings in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka yesterday were a huge success. Unfortunately, the situation in our theater is as you see here.' (audience laughs)."

Thinking of attending a cheering format showing in Japan?

If you'd like to attend one of these showings in Japan, search for oen joei 応援上映 (cheering format showing) in the movie listings. It's probably a good idea to aim for major cities where there is a higher likelihood you'll be surrounded by people who are both familiar with such showings and fully intend to cheer or show their appreciation of the film. Another thing you can do is check with the movie theater in advance to confirm that they have explanation signs posted or show a special clip before the film begins explaining what the audiences should expect. Finally, there's strength in numbers. Getting a group of like-minded people who are ready to cheer with you will help boost the energy level and maybe even encourage others to cheer (not to mention discourage anyone who has a problem with you doing so).

Read more stories from grape Japan.

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-- With Help from Robots, Nursery Teachers Have More Time to Focus on Children

-- Adorably Soothing Cups Modeled After Capybara, Monkeys, And Bears Relaxing In Japanese Hot Springs

© grape Japan

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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NO please, no cheering format. I rather like the quiet theaters in Japan. Even with the quiet theater I heard a few ladies cry out loud during end game. SO no cheering please.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

They trying to turn every movie into the Rocky Horror Picture Show now? I don't see why cheering and yelling out nonsense during the movie does anything to enhance it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Japan is a very sad country. And for the commentary that does not get the need to tell out loud when a WTF moment occurs, haven't really had a great movie experience. Best not to hate it till you've tried it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"the only noise you are likely to hear in a Japanese movie theater is the rustle of a paper bag, popcorn munching and the occasional cough or a sneeze"

Yeah right. What about the a-hole snoring like a chainsaw?! It has happened to me half a dozen times including last emotional 20 minutes of avengers end game. After 10 minutes I asked whenever was close to wake him up becuase the entire theatre could hear him and he was ruining the ending. Of course I was shushed. But none of the cowards would wake up then idiot who ruined 20 minutes of our movie.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan is a very sad country. And for the commentary that does not get the need to tell out loud when a WTF moment occurs, haven't really had a great movie experience. Best not to hate it till you've tried it.

No sadder than any other country. I went to see End Game on opening day in Japan and notable scenes had audience members excited and emotional in their own way. It more about social awareness in public. Just because you don't jump out of your seat and cheer doesn't mean people aren't enjoying it. If you need to cheer at every exciting scene as an adult at public screenings then I think the issue lies with you.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If you need to cheer at every exciting scene as an adult at public screenings then I think the issue lies with you.

If the venue is set up to accommodate some cheers then why complain once you go there? Cheer free venues can serve the cheerless and the reverse can serve the cheerful. Simple as that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How about serving alcohol? Let's add that to the mix.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If ya don't want to see a movie in 3D, then don't go to a 3D screening

If ya don't want to see a movie with loud noises, then don't go to a cheering screening

(Although if it's a horror movie, ya may not have a choice, lol)

How about serving alcohol? Let's add that to the mix.

There are "dine-in" theaters that serve you food while watching the movie - and yes, including alcohol (and yes, those screenings can be quite fun, lol)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I like home viewing. Release direct to DVD or download version. Can pause whenever I need a bathroom break.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Was a great movie but I never really felt there was a time to “cheer”. Had a couple sad moments though.

maybe make this idea for comedies so I can actually laugh without getting dirty looks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Papigiulio: "NO please, no cheering format. I rather like the quiet theaters in Japan. Even with the quiet theater I heard a few ladies cry out loud during end game. SO no cheering please."

Come on, man. I love the fact that theatres here are relatively quiet and people don't shout and what not, but if you are going to go to a cheering event why on earth would you expect that, or better yet, why on earth would you go to such an event if you wanted it? There are plenty of screens that have nothing but silence from the audience -- in fact, pretty much all -- so if I went to a cheering event I would expect and hope for nothing but cheering.

Blacklabel: "Was a great movie but I never really felt there was a time to “cheer”."

Well, it's certainly no Rocky Horror Picture Show in terms of choice moments, but I can think of a few times you might have wanted to tell off a character or two, or cheer when all the superheroes came back, for example, to help the brave few trying to help keep the gauntlet out of Thanos' hands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can you imagine travelling on the subway in that Captain America suit ? Wonder if anyone turned up as Hulk ... Perhaps a Sumo after a night out in Roppongi wouldn't need any colorr changes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No one ever cheers or claps in Amerikan theaters. My wife and I however, will snap our fingers in approval. Love the onlookers clueless reaction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah right. What about the a-hole snoring like a chainsaw?! It has happened to me half a dozen times including last emotional 20 minutes of avengers end game. After 10 minutes I asked whenever was close to wake him up becuase the entire theatre could hear him and he was ruining the ending. Of course I was shushed. But none of the cowards would wake up then idiot who ruined 20 minutes of our movie.

Exactly! I understand and respect it’s a different. They want it like that, fine by me, but when I get to the States and happen to watch a movie like Endgame, believe me, I would have zero reservations about jumping up and down because I can.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Jesus Christ! This is why I can't watch movies in Japanese theaters. People are so stuck-up. If I watch a comedy movie, I'd be the only one laughing. The movie theatre is not just for you, it's for everyone. Forcing others to be completely silent so you can feel comfortable is selfish. Watch the movie at home if you want complete silence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then u have to go to India, whistling is common there and it's loud when their favourite actor arrives or when there is even a light kiss.

Anyway, now i really have to watch End Game, what's the hype, got to find out myself, although not a fan of such hero characters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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