CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You know the person. You may even have been that person.
The movie theater is dark. The previews have rolled and the film you came to see begins.
Then, a bright angelic light invades your space as a cellphone lights up. Or the first ring -- tone notes of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" fill the theater. Or the unmistakable tippity-tip-tap of nearby texting distracts you.
Welcome to the movies, circa 2012.
"It's definitely an issue," says Greg Pauley, vice president of the Greater Huntington Theater Corp., which runs Park Place Cinemas in downtown Charleston.
As cellphones have become ubiquitous in the past decade, the issue of their usage in shared public spaces, notably movie houses but also concert halls and schools, has increasingly bedeviled the folks who oversee those spaces.
"I'm not sure it's exclusive to movie theaters. It's almost a social issue at this point," said Pauley. "If you can't stop someone from texting and driving, I don't know how you can stop them from texting in a movie theater."
But movie houses try, in varying ways, to deal with a classic challenge -- the urge to communicate, even in the dark -- which has morphed with the onslaught of mass market cellphones.
"When I first got into the business our main problem was people talking and, believe it or not, smoking," said Pauley.
There is also a generational aspect to cell phones, especially when it comes to texting, he said. "Kids today have grown up with these devices. It's almost like language for them -- it's a way to speak. So they don't necessarily view it as doing something wrong."
Yet when filmgoers are paying nearly $8 per person to see a film, some order, so to speak, is in order inside the movie house. Multiplexes have taken various approaches to ensuring customers get to see films undisturbed.
"Some circuits have taken the issue to zero tolerance," said Pauley. "That's a pretty extreme stance to take. It's just kind of a touchy situation. We're there to serve our customers -- on the other hand we have to protect some of our customers from the other customers."