Very early spoiler in this post.
I attended a 6pm screening of Watchmen last Monday night, and I was horrified to see children in the seats of what I had read was an unusually violent film. Here is my email message to the theatre's general manager:
Dear Mr. Brogni:
I filled out an AMC tellamc.com survey about seeing Watchmen at your theatre, and I thought it was fair to tell you I was dissatisfied with my experience. The men's room was almost out of soap. But that's not worth an email message. Why were children under ten years old allowed into Watchmen? Reviews of the film were highly mixed, but there was one consensus: this was not a film for children. I regularly attend R-rated films, and I was shocked by the raw violence and gore in Watchmen. At my weeknight screening, attendance was sparse. One guy was with his three young children, who chatted throughout the first 15 minutes of the film. Fortunately, they left at that point. (As you may know, the film opens with a grisly murder.) Is there something you can do about further restricting a movie that is terribly inappropriate for young children? "No children under 6 after 6" would not have stopped this family, and any restriction you would want to impose would probably violate AMC policy. A solution I just thought of: refuse to sell child-price tickets to R-rated films. Or, if someone attempts to purchase tickets for children to unusually violent films, direct the cashiers to offer an alternative film, with the matinée price for adults in the party and a concession voucher as incentives.
Keeping children out of violent film screenings not only protects them from jarring big-screen violence; it also maintains the mature environment in which such a film should be screened.