Movie Theater Cup Holder Etiquette

Modern Manners Guy lays down the law for proper cup holder etiquette at the movie theater.

Richie Frieman
3-minute read


Over the past few weeks, I saw three movies: one with my daughter and two with a friend of mine. In the process, I also ate my weight in movie theater popcorn. What can I say, I can't help myself. (Plus for $0.50 more, I can have a box big enough for my beagle to play in, so who can argue with that?) Yes, we all can agree that movie theater popcorn is a gift from the gods, but one thing we can't agree on is which cup holders is ours…until now that is. Yes, my friends, Modern Manners Guy is going to lay down the law for proper cup holder etiquette once and for all.

Drum roll please… The cup holder on the RIGHT is yours. Let me guess, the crowd is going wild right now! There is one main reason why—dining etiquette. Proper dining etiquette teaches us that the drink is always on the right side of the plate and the bread plate is always on the left. I'm sure everyone has sat down and thought to themselves, "Crap, which one is mine? Oh well, I'll just guess." And then about an hour into the meal, you find someone at the table saying, "Wait, that was your glass? Sorry."

A good way to remember which side is for the drink is to make a lower case "d" with your right index finger and thumb, and to do the same with a lower case "b" on your left hand for bread. See, there you go. A simple way to remember it. Feel free to try this out at parties, too. 

Now, with the cup holder, the same philosophy is intact. You are "dining," and you are being entertained; therefore, the rules of dining etiquette trump those of the medieval man next to you who is dressed up like an elf for The Hobbit premiere. But if you get to the theater and find that he’s occupied BOTH cup holders, kindly ask if you can have the one on your right. Kudos if you can speak in "Elvish" but let's assume you don't. Try something like, "I'm sorry but would you mind if I use this cup holder for my drink? By the way, I love your costume!" 

Even if you don't need to use the cup holder for a drink or for food, that doesn't mean you should give it up—this is not the point. The point is that the right cup holder belongs to you for the next two hours. You may want to put napkins there, you may later decide to go get candy or a drink, and so on. Plus, you might just need that space to stretch out your arm and relax more comfortably. A movie theater seat is not something you own, and no one else has any authority over you as a patron. Your overpriced ticket cost just as much as the next guy’s, so we are all on an even playing field. Now, who's up for refill on popcorn?

Do you have a great story about movie theater etiquette? 
Post all the details in the comment section below. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Check out my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page, follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a polite life. 

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