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Customer ServiceIamA Movie Theater Employee, and I've seen the dirty part of the movie business. AMA!

Mar 5th 2015 by MovieTheaterPro • 58 Questions • 359 Points

I've worked at a 10 screen movie theater for over two years and I've seen some shit. I saw a guy have a seizure during a movie, I've found over $50 cleaning theaters, I have kicked out loud teenagers, I have caught (many) couples having sex in theaters and the bathroom, and I make the best popcorn in the world. Ask me anything!

PROOF: http://imgur.com/3IGhAj8 (One of our giant digital projectors) http://imgur.com/vW91aIE (The screen of the projector) http://imgur.com/esRBQP6 (me in my adorable uniform & bowtie lol)

EDIT: Thanks y'all for caring so much about my job and my stories.. I'll be back again tomorrow. Hopefully with popcorn. :)

EDIT: please don't take out your local-movie-theater anger on me. My theater is run very smoothly and besides my entertaining stories of rude customers or crazy teenagers, we don't have that many problems/complaints. So please don't yell at me about your local cinema not enforcing the no cell phone rule or anything. There's really, honestly, NOTHING I can do for you.

LAST EDIT I SWEAR: Guys, this is my first reddit account and first post. I'm REALLY sorry if I miss a question or answer one the wrong thread, I'm a newbie.

Q:

Do you ever get parents who bring their kids to see movies that they shouldn't? What's your stance on that?

A:

ALL THE TIME. I had a dad bring his 3 year old daughter in to see "We're The Millers" and when I warned him about the movie he said, "She has an older brother". UM what??? Not the same thing! And today I had a mom bring a 6 year old in for Fifty Shades. When I tried to warn her about the movie she said, "I know, I read the book". THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING??


Q:

That is seriously my biggest pet peeve, parents who bring toddlers and young children to R rated movies. Some guy actually had the audacity to bring his autistic 8 year old son because he needed to be "desensitized". Kid was screaming before the movie even started because the lights went out. Unbelievable.

A:

That's horrible. I hate that too. But there really isn't anything I can say or do about it if I want to keep my job.


Q:

Can't you guys refuse service to anyone?

A:

We can, though there are strict guidelines for it and I can never remember what they are. I just try to serve all customers. Even the rude ones make for nice stories.


Q:

Had a father bring his 6 year old son to Kingsman the other day and then screamed at us afterwards because the movie was too "inappropriate" for his kid. We always warn parents before bringing kids to R rated movies but they do it anyways... and then we get yelled at

A:

EXACTLY! This happens to me all the time. Even when we read off the list of things wrong with the movie.

"This movie has sexual content, violence, and strong drug use." "That's fine for my 4-year-old son, he has an older brother."


Q:

Former movie theater employee here, I only made it six months before I couldn't handle it anymore, so props to you! How long have you been working for?

Also, do you have a funniest or most annoying customer story? Mine involved a woman paying for $21 in concessions in dimes, nickels, and pennies on the night that Madagascar premiered. It was awesome.

A:

I've been working here for over two years, though now that I'm in college I don't work as much as I used to. And I HATE when customers call and ask me to read alllll of the movies and showtimes that are playing. They're in the newspaper, online, and on the movie hotline.. so don't bother me!


Q:

Seems like you should just be able to transfer them to the automated hotline if they do something stupid like that.

A:

I just give them the number for it and tell them to have a nice day :)


Q:

Does anyone worry about the sound mixing when putting some movies next to each other?

I mean, I absolutely love Frozen but when I was watching Walter Mitty I didn't want to hear Let It Go from the theater next door. I'm always hearing explosions from surrounding theaters when I'm in a not so loud part of a movie.

A:

We do sound-proof tests once a year to make sure you can't hear the movies in other theaters.. So I'm pretty sure that isn't a problem for us. That would make me so mad though!

ps- I love Frozen too but when we got the sing-a-long version of it I died a little. Imagine hearing a million three-year-olds singing along at every single showing. It was rough.


Q:

Why can't the sound levels for the previews be reduced to the same levels as the actual movie?

A:

Most theaters have a separate projector for ads (they come via satellite from corporate) and the ad projector is always turned up louder. I have never understood why though because in my theater it's always turned down.


Q:

WHAT?

A:

Lol. We try to keep our ads quiet so people can hear themselves when they're trying to find their seat/get situated :)


Q:

TURN DOWN FOR WHAT?

A:

EXACTLY


Q:

Are you talking about the floor? Because... the floor of a movie theater seems very very dirty.

A:

The floors are very gross, but I sweep them between shows and try to mop them if there is a pop spill. Though I once found what I thought to be semen on the floor of a theater. Long story short: Do NOT trust the five second rule in a theater. Let that starburst stay on the floor pls.


Q:

You called it pop! Midwest?

A:

Haha, I called it soda in an earlier post. I'm covering my tracks ;)


Q:

Do you get money from 3D surcharges? Or DBox?

A:

Not that I know of. Our 3D charge is only $1 more, and I'm pretty sure that just goes to insurance on our 3D glasses (ours are big and clunky and reuseable)


Q:

We don't get any of the money from tickets because they go to the movie producers, so we ONLY get money from selling concessions.

Quick question. I heard a while back that theatres got a percentage but it rose over time e.g. opening week the studios took the biggest cut but over time the theatres got a bigger cut due to opening week being the biggest sales and this is where theatres lost out.

This may vary by country but I'm just wondering if you knew anymore about this.

Edit: Never mind saw below that it seems to vary by theatre. For what it's worth I always buy my snacks at the theatre. Sure it's a bit expensive but I can't be bothered taking a backpack in and my local does really good popcorn.

A:

I explained this somewhere else in this page, but since we are a smaller theater in our chain and we have cheaper ticket prices, we generally don't make money off of the tickets. Our corporate always calls our theater the "ball-and-chain". :P


Q:

Not OP, but snacks are how the theaters make money. The movies themselves are so incredibly expensive, the ticket cost just barely pays for them at most chains.

A:

exactly!


Q:

How do I convince moviegoers that I am way more important and entertaining than the film they paid through the ass to watch?

A:

Be super loud and annoying, turn the brightness on all of your devices up as high as it will go, and bring as many screaming children as possible.


Q:

Seriously though, what the fuck is up with people in theaters and max brightness on their phones? That shit would blind me, damn.

A:

I don't know, but whenever I have to yell at someone for using their phone it's because the brightness is like 500%. Chill.


Q:

Have you ever caught someone making the video of a movie (like piracy stuff). If yes, what is your role in this situation? Do you hand them over to cops or what?

A:

I actually haven't caught that, though I feel like those people are really sneaky about recording movies. If I did catch someone my boss would want to call the cops, though I would probably just ask them to put it away/leave the theater depending on how nice I am feeling and how nice they are being.


Q:

So there are no predefined rules for these kind of situations?

A:

I'm sure there are.. though I haven't read the employee handbook in over two years and there hasn't been a situation like that since I've been there. I would try to be understanding about it and not call the cops if they agreed to delete the footage and leave, though my boss would probably just call the cops right away.


Q:

do you get to watch movie before they are released to the public?

A:

Yes! My theater has Friday night midnight showings for employees only (and one guest) but in the summer/the night before big movie premieres we usually move them to Thursday. I got to see Mockingjay before y'all.


Q:

I saw mocking jay on the Thursday before too. AMC theaters screens them like that. The first viewing is before the midnight release. Thursday at around 7

A:

We don't ave those showings all the time, but when we do the employee showing is the night before (Wednesday)


Q:

Q: Are theaters contractually obligated to keep a certain movie in heavy rotation even when it is failing in the box office like Jupiter Ascending?

A:

We have to keep movies for a minimum of 2 weeks, and our corporation decides what movies we lose and when. But bigger chains have to keep them for longer. And yeah, I think we got like 14 people in two weeks for Jupiter Ascending. It wasn't that great.. haha.


Q:

That movie probably got screwed by a dumb title and Channing Tatum with eye makeup.

A:

Yeah, the series wasn't bad! The movie, however..


Q:

do you ever get complaints about the sound being to loud?

A:

Yeah, so we go and turn it down. Then we get complaints about it being too quiet. It sucks because the movies fluctuate so much and turning it up/down will make the quiet parts quieter and the loud parts louder.


Q:

Wouldn't a compressor on the audio help with that?

A:

Whoa, I'm not a projectionist, so I don't know these things. But I do know that the movies come with special instructions and most of the time these instructions ask us to play it at a minimum/maximum audio level for optimal viewing. So, I don't know if that would screw that up..


Q:

How much does it usually cost for a theater to run a movie? What is the biggest expense for the theater?

A:

I wouldn't know all of that because our corporate offices usually deal with movie/ticket prices and sales, we just keep track of concessions. I do know that we save a lot of money since we are only required to keep bad movies for a minimum of two weeks.


Q:

What is something that people don't know about movie theaters?

A:

Movie theaters are really diverse, so it's kind of hard to speak for all of them. But something that is cool that we all have in common is that the movies usually come in under a code name, or pseudonym. This is a security measure so that people who were to get their hands on the film wouldn't think it was important. For example, "The Dark Knight" came in under "Rory's First Kiss". Frozen had some weird name too but it was really long and I can't remember it right now.


Q:

Not at my theater they don't. TDK Rises was actually delivered via UPS to my personal house. I come home and shit is on my back porch just hanging out. Guy knew I worked there and left it since the theater was closed at the time. Label read Dark Knight Rises and everything.

A:

That's weird.. and kinda sad because I love seeing the cool nicknames they put on the boxes :(


Q:

What's the secret to movie theater-style popcorn? I wanna make it at home but it's never the same.

A:

Lol, I get this all the time. I think the kettle makes it pop more fully (better than a microwave) but the butter is what really makes it taste great. Although it's not actually butter, it's oil.

This is the "butter" we use: http://www.farmandfleet.com/products/863082-kernel-seasons-popcorn-popping-oil.html?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&gclid=CNfm6pmhkMQCFYNDaQodzLsAgg#.VPfL7FX3-iw


Q:

Would theater cancel the movie show just because there were not enough ticket sales? Then what happen to the people who bought the tickets?

A:

We wouldn't do that. We;ve run shows that only one person is sitting in!


Q:

I've been that one guy before. Do you get disappointed when that one person shows up?

Edit:never mind, you answered this when I asked it elsewhere

A:

its cool, lol


Q:

Has anyone ever fainted or freaked out so much they caused a scene and had to be removed during a scary movie?

When I went to go see The Conjuring, something like that almost happened with the people next to me but they left(it was a boyfriend and his girlfriend) after she started hyperventilating during the 'locked in the basement' scene.

A:

We've had people leave movies because they were so freaked out, but we don't ask them to leave. Just let them make the choice. However, I did see a guy have a seizure last summer during a scene in 22 Jump Street. I don't know what scene because I haven't seen the movie but I'm guessing it was super flashy and obnoxious (his wife told us that he was epileptic). We had to call 911.


Q:

Do you still watch movies in your free time?

A:

I do a lot in the summer when I don't have school! (I'm in college). I get in free and I can get one other person in for free, so I see a lot of movies and take my friends, too.


Q:

That's so awesome!! Do you still like watching DVDs and stuff at home?

A:

I do.. I appreciate movies so much more now :) I've made it my life goal to watch all the movies on IMDB's "Top 250" list


Q:

Do you get any creepy old dudes that are alone seeing really questionable films (kids films etc.)?

A:

Yeah.. most of them are regulars, unfortunately. If we are really suspicious then the ushers try to find where he is sitting during the movie, so they can check on him throughout the movie.


Q:

No, about twice per screening there's an attendant that walks in with a flashlight-looking thing (like what you'd use to guide a jet on the tarmac), then stands near the screen staring at the crowd, then walks away.

A:

Oh, that's annoying. We try to only walk in during the show if we get a noise complaint or something. They are probably just counting how many people are in the theater to make sure nobody snuck in, or maybe they are making sure people aren't on their phones. It could be for a variety of reasons


Q:

Cool, thanks!

A:

If it bothers you a lot you could always complain and they would have to either stop or at least explain why they do it!


Q:

What's your best and worst experiences working there?

A:

Best: I just love the environment. Everyone is with their friends, family, or SO and coming to see a movie that they're really excited about. Their excitement can sometimes rub off on you.

Worst: Not a specific example, but I hate rude customers. Don't cuss me out because your 14 year old can't see a rated R movie without you in the theater. Not my rule.


Q:

For any reason, what customer(s) will you always remember and why?

A:

We have a lot of regulars, they're all really nice old people :) I will always remember this one lady.. she comes in every Thursday and asks for a ticket to the best show. Then she orders a small popcorn and m&ms, then she puts the m&ms in the popcorn. She's so funny and last year she made all of us brownies and brought them in on christmas.


Q:

Do you ever let the couples finish? Also, ever catch a threesome?

A:

I've never caught a threesome but once I caught two women in the bathroom! That was the most awkward because they were loudly having sex in a stall and I had to kindly ask them to stop and come out. Usually the couples are just.. eh.. using their hands to please each other. If that's the case and they are in the back of the theater and nobody has complained, I try to just turn the other way. After all, it's terrible to be the one who has to be like: "Excuse me, can you please get your hand out of his pants? Thanks!"


Q:

What's the most terrifying experience you've had whilst working? For example, someone bringing a weapon into the cinema etc.

A:

One time I had a customer who was in my face cursing and yelling because I "sold her a ticket to a sold-out movie". What actually happened was that I sold her a ticket to see a movie and it was ALMOST sold out, so I warned her that she may not be able to sit with her whole family (6 people) if they bought these tickets. She ignored me and bought them anyways. Then, when her family couldn't find seats all together, she got up in my face screaming because she thought I sold her tickets to a sold out show.


Q:

Anything we can do to make you and other movie theatre employees' lives easier?

A:

I thought this was just common knowledge, but PLEASE throw away your trash after a movie! When I'm ushering my job is to make sure nobody is talking during your movie and to clean up accidental popcorn/pop spills.. not pick up 100+ half drank coke cups!

Oh and pls no blowjobs in the back row. That would be cool too.


Q:

Movie theater employee here and I agree with this 100%. I love when people buy a large bag of popcorn and somehow all of it ends up on the floor and down the entire row of seats. Thats always fun to clean up -_-

A:

I swear that some of them do it on purpose. I know this one lady was pissed at me because she kept asking for refills and I could only give her one. So she dumped alllll of the remaining popcorn (which was a lot) on the floor in the doorway of her theater.


Q:

If movie theaters have to pay so much for first run films, could they make cash by playing older but super popular films to generate some cash? Like Rosemary's Baby and The Omen as a double feature or something?

A:

Around christmas we show popular holiday movies and make some cash!


Q:

Hey could you make me some fresh popcorn?

Also I want butter in the middle.

Oh, wait sorry i wanted to put salt in the middle too. Can you dump some out?

Thanks

A:

LOL. I ALWAYS ask if you want butter, and if the answer is yes then I put it in the middle too. But I hate when people ask me to dump it out. That's just a waste!


Q:

Whoa whoa whoa, I believe you mean butter TOPPING. or butter flavor. ;)

A:

Oops.. my bad ;)


Q:

have you found cucumbers left over in seats after showings of 50 shades of grey?

A:

No but I did find a little bottle of "Warming Lube".. I'm thinking they took the cucumber with them


Q:

It's probably a pickle now.

A:

lol probably!


Q:

Why would anyone take a cucumber to 50 Shades of... Wait, nevermind.

But how would they sneak it in/out of the theater... Wait, nevermind again.

A:

Just.. Don't ask


Q:

I've seen some shit.

So, are we talkin' feces here? Tell me more.

A:

I mean, someone did shit themselves and leave their underwear with a turd in the theater once.. my boss told me that story though. I didn't have to deal with it, thank god. But I have cleaned up semen, broken up couples while they were having sex, seen a guy have a seizure, cleaned up puke twice, called the cops on a group of teenagers who were smoking cigs in the movie, ect. It's been a joy.


Q:

I feel like us cinema workers need a subreddit or something where we just share all our fucked up stories.

A:

True, true. Cinemas, stuck between the food and entertainment worlds, have the most fucked up stories.


Q:

Have you ever let people (girls or guys) inside without a ticket just because they were pretty or they were somehow related to you?

A:

I've never let people in without a ticket, but I have let my underage friends into rated R movies without checking their ID (which is actually a big deal at my theater because my boss loves to ID people)


Q:

Movie theater employee here. Have to ask because it happens here all the time. Does your theater have a policy about asking for refunds before the movie is over?

We get people who leave half way through or at the end of the movie and demand refunds because they hated it. Our policy is that we dont give refunds because... well we didnt make the movie so its not our fault you didnt like it. If it was a legit problem with the print or the sound or something thats one thing.

I remember an old couple left Wolf of Wall Street and the old lady was almost hyperventilating she was so upset at all the sex in it.

A:

Haha, aw. Poor lady. No, we won't give refunds to people who don't like the movie, but we will give refunds to people who claim they left early because of something that is our fault (theater too dirty, someone was talking loudly, etc). But if the movie is over and you claim any of these things, it's too bad. No refund for you.


Q:

I read that you have caught couples having sex in the theater bathrooms but you guys can't see what couples do in their seats right?

A:

We don't have security cameras in the theaters but I have walked in to check on theaters and caught couples in the act. I've also gotten complaints before where I actually have to go stop them. Some of our theaters aren't stadium seating, so when I walk in the door I'm standing right behind the back row. That's usually when I catch people.


Q:

Thanks for that info. So is it against theater policy if a woman sits on your lap the entire movie? Like in the last row in the far corner?

A:

Lol I've caught couples doing that! The girl wearing a skirt, sitting on his lap.. I wasn't born yesterday! And yeah, due to fire codes we are required to ask everyone to remain in their own seat.


Q:

What are your thoughts or stance on someone sneaking in a double feature (going into another movie after the movie they paid for is over)?

A:

Its hard to do at my theater because all of our movies start/end around the same time and usually have a large amount of time between the shows. However, if you can sit through two movies and not get bored, just do it.


Q:

Do you receive any perks from the job that we may not know about? Advanced movie screenings? Free candy? And can you wear your outfit outside of work?

A:

I get advances movie showings on occasion, free movies for me and a guest (unlimited), and free popcorn/soda while I work. But as for the outfit.. LOL


Q:

How often the pop corn machine gets cleaned ?

A:

Every night we clean it with these super heavy duty cleaners that could burn your hands if you don't wear gloves, and once a week we take it fully apart (bolts, air vents, etc). Though it heats up to like 500 degrees when it makes popcorn so even if it was dirty it would kill off the bacteria.