Picking your seat in the movie theater is a small choice that could easily make or break your experience. Do you prefer sitting closer to the screen, or as far back as possible? Off to the side, or the center of the aisle? Will people sitting near you be respectful, or talk the entire time? If you manage to get a seat without someone sitting on either side of you, will that last? And where do you sit if there is only one other occupied seat in the theater?
For one TikToker selecting a ticket for a late January screening, the answer to that last question—which has garnered plenty of reaction—is obvious: Sit right next to them.
A couple of weeks ago, TikToker @airlk filmed a computer screen that showed an almost entirely empty screening for Spider-Man: No Way Home at Cinemark Orlando. There are many reasons the theater could be empty: It’s a recently added screening, No Way Home came out over a month ago and most people who wanted to see it already did and they’re seeing other movies instead, it fell on a Tuesday night, and so on. Only one person, sitting in the furthest left seat in the second-to-last-row, already booked the ticket.
As JVKE’s “this is what falling in love feels like” played in the background, @airlk moved the cursor over to select the seat directly next to the only other person in the theater.
“This person’s watching Spider-Man alone in a corner,” @airlk wrote. “I think they need a friend.”
Are the intentions, whether the move is a troll move designed to go viral or something that could be more wholesome, good? In theory, sure. But for many of the people who’ve watched the video since it was uploaded on Jan. 25, the sheer thought is anxiety-inducing.
For some, it’s an introvert’s nightmare. At the sheer thought of it, Jonathan Strong noted that “I’m leaving if that happens,” echoing a common sentiment.
“Spider-Man- leave me alone,” @imlonely71 commented.
For others, the choice just feels weird. With this particular screening, it fell on a Tuesday night more than a month after the film came out, and some people tend to prefer more sparsely attended screenings. For that kind of person, there’s a level of exasperation because of the ability to choose literally any other seat. (After being called “borderline evil” by one TikToker, @airlk responded with a smiling devil emoji.)
“I’ve gone to movies alone,” @rubenoftheorchard88 wrote. “I would hate if someone sat next to me purposefully. I got late at night on like a Monday for that reason.”
A few people even compared the move to having your choice of urinals and then choosing to stand next to someone else.
“This is like standing next to some guy at the urinals while the other stalls are free,” Khoa Nguyen wrote.
Another factor—one that isn’t highlighted as much among commenters—is COVID. No Way Home debuted just as the Omicron variant started spreading, leading some people to avoid theaters out of caution or because they had COVID until everyone who wanted to see it immediately got that chance. For someone like that, having a stranger sitting next to you with every other seat open feels like a dick move.
But if it happens to you? Depending on your theater, there’s very little to stop you from moving once the lights go down.