Shutterstock / Pavel L Photo and Video
While many moviegoers might consider it rude to use a cell phone at the theater, they wouldn't go so far as to call 911 to report someone doing so. Then again, most moviegoers aren't Alex Billington.
Billington, critic and creator of Firstshowing.net, was attending a press screening of horror film "The Sacrament" at the Toronto International Film Festival Monday morning when he noticed someone using their phone. Billington told BuzzFeed that the person in question was pointing their phone directly at the screen for close to 10 minutes, leading Billington to suspect they were attempting to pirate the movie.
Billington claims he tried to speak to the theater manager about the issue, only to be brushed off. When Billington returned to his seat, the same moviegoer had their phone out again, and that's when the critic decided to take matters into his own hands.
"I thought I might be witnessing an act of piracy ... and wished to report it to the proper authorities," Billington told BuzzFeed. "The  call made was to report an act of piracy in progress, a major crime that many signs around TIFF remind people is a punishable offense. I simply requested that an officer confront and confirm that he was not pirating. Another 10 minutes later, a venue manager intercepted the report and responded claiming he was only texting, and subsequently stated he had the right to use his phone in this screening."
Unsurprisingly, the Internet wasn't thrilled with Billington's response, chastising the critic for overreacting to a nonissue and distracting 911 dispatchers from real emergencies. Billington -- who tweeted up a storm after the incident -- admitted he shouldn't have called 911 ("it was a heat of moment gaffe," he wrote on Twitter, adding, "the dispatcher laughed at me"), but said that the incident inspired him to spearhead a drive to change the festival's official policies when it comes to using phones during screenings.
"I will be starting a petition & support group for any/all TIFF press & industry who want to voice their concerns about phones being allowed," he announced in one tweet.
"I'm trying to make a difference for the better, if that's so grating I'm sorry. Changes need to be made and drastic measures are called for," Billington wrote in another.
[via BuzzFeed h/t Yahoo! Movies]