Everyone has their opinions on what age a child should first experience movies at a theater - Should you listen?
I love movies - I was the type of person that found it imperative to see a movie the first day/weekend it premiered. If I could be invited to some early screenings, I was totally there. I'd be angry if my schedule required me to see those favorite movies on my list on the 3rd week or later. So when I got pregnant, I lamented the thought of waiting until a movie went to DVD or digital.
I started reading the internet and the dichotomy of positive and negative opinions on the subject: To take or not to take your baby/toddler to a movie. Some people were even saying kids shouldn't even be at the theater for rated G movies (who would be at those movies, then?) because they may not know how to be quiet/behave. I came to realization that getting advice from the internet wouldn't be beneficial for me. I wanted to break traditions and think outside the box a bit.
After my son was born, I decided to watch him and his temperament around certain stimuli - loud family picnics and dinners and amusement parks, shopping malls and even worship & praise service at church (which is becoming more and more like a concert). I liked how he handled them all, remaining calm and happy- or just sleeping through it all. After watching my baby sleep through the surround sound theater system and the 3D large screen tv my husband created, I figured it would be okay to test the actual movie theater.
I wanted to see a PG rated movie that I figured would have a few loud scenes, and chose that as the 'transitory movie pilot' for my experiment. I made sure we had everything we thought he might need; including having his favorite blanket and his bottles on deck. I had a sound reducing hat (HUSH Hat) that I placed on his head that also kept his head warm in the chilly theater. We got there around the time I figured he'd be napping, and I fed him during the Lights On commercials. By the time the previews started, he was already gone to dream world. I held him so that I could feel if he'd be startled. But he never flinched. He was still sleep when we placed him into his carseat for the drive home. I felt relieved and ready to try it again.
Kids are much more than what we give them credit for. It's up to parents alone to know their child's personalities, limitations, and temperaments so that they can make a decision accordingly. I was raised up on the premise that kids will never learn how to behave in certain situations until they are placed into those situations. I see a lot of 7 or 8 year old kids at the movies for the first time, and they still exhibit some of the behaviors of a young moviegoer; talking too loud during the movie, getting up and walking over to other family members in their party while effectively blocking your view of the movie, and even screaming during action or intense scenes (intense as rated PG gets). My son absolutely demands to see a movie each week, and has never screamed. He pointed out a favorite character ("Iron Man, Mommy!") aloud when he was 2, but quickly learned by my shhh's that this was inappropriate - within minutes. Now, at 3 he's a "pro". We rarely even have to leave the theater during the movie for potty breaks anymore. He sits quietly and eats his popcorn and candy, fully enjoying his experience, and whispering to me if he has a comment. People have asked us how he's so well behaved, and I reply that this is because he was immersed at a young age and took social cues from everyone else on how to behave at a theater.
So while there will always be parents shunning those making this choice, if your child can handle it, go for it. Have those great experiences that they remember for many years. Not all children should be held back from doing what they love simply because some kids can't handle it. Discern your child's capabilities and act accordingly.