Apple's iPhone "Theater Mode" Patents Kick Off New Speculation

LaLaLand Theater Still - Photofest - H 2017

LaLaLand Theater Still - Photofest - H 2017

The supposed update is based on patents that Apple has held since 2014.

Apple may be working on a solution for a great scourge of modern moviegoing.

A new round of speculation has hit social media over a "Theater Mode" setting that supposedly will be released in the next iOS update and will keep iPhone users off of their cell phones while in theaters. At least one movie-theater executive isn't amused.

Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League wrote on Twitter: "If this enhancement turns out to be a means to make it easier to text in cinemas, I may have to book a ticket to Cupertino and pack my can of whoop-ass."

He continued: "I have confidence, however, that a fellow Tim would not make such a mistake."

Alamo Drafthouse has an ongoing "Don't Talk" PSA campaign that has filmed pleas to audiences from the likes of Mark Hamill, Amy Schumer, Miles Teller and Kevin Smith.

The supposed update is based on patents that Apple has held since 2014 (it filed in 2012) that are meant to deactivate "cellular communications interface and/or automatically sets the device to a silent mode" when someone enters a theater, and the phone will resume regular functionality once the person exits.

While in "Theater Mode," which is rumored to have a popcorn-shaped icon, the device's limited access to cellular functions will be paired with a dimmed screen that is meant to not distract other moviegoers if a phone is being used.

The patent filing outlines a proposed business application for theater owners to "feasibly charge additional in the way of ticket price (or offer as a free incentive) the feature of 'no cell phone interruptions' during certain movies."

Apple did not immediately respond to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.

Aiding and abetting cell-phone use in theaters has been something theater chains have toyed with before, only to receive serious pushback. AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said he was open to allowing texting in a few designated theaters, only to do an about-face a few days later, saying, "We have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want."