Stupid Movie Theater Rules (Explained)

Ever gone to the movies and just had your entire experience ruined? Ever had it ruined by the theater itself? The prices are too high, the movie sucked, security is obnoxious because they keep walking in and out and they seem to always stare at you. Or your girlfriend. It’s just irritating, especially for a place that is specifically built to entertain you. You’re paying money, things should be how you want them, and that’s really not asking much. Heck, if I want to skip into a movie, it shouldn’t even matter with how much I pay.

But what if, try and level with me here- what if there were reasons for doing things how they did besides an overwhelming desire to take as much money out of your pocket as possible? What if there were reasons behind the rules and prices that make most of us so exhausted at the thought of going to the theater that many of us have decided it’s better to just not go? It’s crazy, I know. But check this out.

4. Prices for Tickets are High, and the Food is even Higher.

So you’re going to watch the new Channing Tatum Romance/Action/Comedy with your woman because she’s a huge fan of Tatum’s uhhh…acting skills. Seriously, those skills- woo. Off the charts.

Everything is going good so far, you’ve had your dinner which wasn’t as expensive as you thought it might be, conversations about how sad it is that people die, and how next semester will be when you go back to school (you promise). It’s been going well. Then you get to the theater. $10.50 for a single ticket. What? Am I buying everyone’s ticket too? Add $10.50 onto you date too so now the total is $21.00. Okay, okay, you’re still good. Just get to your movie. Oh, whaddaya know? Date wants popcorn and a drink! Now you can tack on another fifteen dollars to your original price and you’re just feeling like you should’ve done something cheaper. You really don’t want to see this movie to begin with, regardless of how mind-blowing Channing Tatum’s laid-back, take-his-shirt-off-in-every-movie, dead-eyed wigger approach to acting is. If the movie is in 3D, your bank is broke.

Explanation: Corporate adjusts prices according to two things- other theaters and what Hollywood tells them to. Your theater itself may only make as little as ten percent off of the actual ticket price. Meaning that if your movie is $10.50, the theater makes about $1.05. You see how much I care about you people? I’ve just done math on my article that’s supposed to be about movies. EW. At the same time that people wonder why movie theaters are so expensive these days, they’re giving Brad Pitt mad props because playa gets paid. Not to mention that massive list of credits at the end of every movie. Those people are getting paid too. Where’s that money coming from? The movie theater? Not directly because the studios have paid them. Well, where do these multimillion/billion dollar studios get their money from? Your pocket. Remember, you have willingly paid to watch their product.

Concession prices are high because that’s where the theater actually makes all their money. Groceries stores are selling groceries (HUH?), A clothing store sells clothing, and Wal-Mart sells death, but they get to keep what they make. When I say “keep,” I mean the money is distributed to the employers, employees, etc., etc. of course while the theater business, as previously mentioned has a very different way of doing things. Since concession is their major flow of business while the majority of money spent on a theater is of course, on tickets, there has to be some reason for people to bother working there at all. Can you imagine Target having to give back 90% of what they make on their biggest items (Uhh…..pencils?) to a bigger company? The few things they sold that were there own would have to be priced to justify even having as many employees as they do.

But don’t think that the eighteen year old kid selling you the ridiculously over priced popcorn is seeing more of your money when the prices go up because he’s not. His pay will remain the same at $7.50 until he begs his manager to possibly maybe just even think-for-a-second about at-some-point considering that he is a slightly above mediocre peon.


Okay, so maybe you’re not buying concession. You realize and understand that high prices are sucky, but you don’t have to pay it. So you’re bringing in your own Subway foot-long. But wouldn’t ya know it, the little jerk who rips your ticket stops you. You look at him right in his eyes, ignoring the fact that they go in different directions like Homer Simpson, you ignore his mouth full of braces that he’s breathing through much too heavily, as he says to you the utter words of mockery that pain your very ears- “No outside food or drink, sir.” You could punch him in his zit-covered face. These prices are insane and no I can’t even bring in my own food. I already paid for the stupid ticket, why can’t I just bring this in?

Explanation: Well, we’ve already gone over where the theater gets it’s money from, which ties into this as well. If you’re not paying for their food, you’re not contributing so much to the theater as you have Hollywood to begin with. If everybody decides that Starbucks is what they want instead, that’s taking away from most of the theaters profit. But a reason that matters almost as much while not nearly as obvious to the customers or even many employees. But the clean up. Good Lord, the clean up. After having worked at a theater for two years, I can personally attest to the mess customers leave behind and let me tell you- it’s not pretty. I’m going to leave out fluids, and devices that are found and stick to the subject of outside food or drink getting inside the auditorium. The time that’s put into cleaning giant messes from a milkshake from Chik-Fil-A or an entire meal that’s been thrown on the floor and stepped on is what’s meant to be prevented.

Oh, you have a small bag of 99 cent potato chips hidden in your wife’s purse and when the movie was done you threw it away? Okay, whatever, you couldn’t be stopped because you’re all Secret Squirrel over here and you even through away your trash because your Superman. Good job. While a box of 56 gallon trash bags costs around forty bucks and these prices add up, the actual rule isn’t meant to harass someone who isn’t paying to “Don Theaterlioni,” it’s meant to prevent jerks from allowing their kid to dance all over the fruity pebbles they brought in for them and having a lowly theater worker spend their entire shirt cleaning up crap that the theater doesn’t even sell. Your kid makes a mess so you deal with it. Part of being a parent is having to wipe poop off the walls and such. Now have your kid’s friend come in and let him poop on the walls. See the difference?

2. Security is Annoying and/or Unnecessary.

You’re in the movie now. Terrible prices have been paid for, you found the seat just where you wanted it (or wherever was left) and now the wonderful Drama about lost love between a slave master’s daughter and a slave can begin. Starring Emma Stone and Justin Timberlake as the slave. But somebody jerkwad keeps popping their head in and staring at you. In fact, he’s staring at everybody. He’s even had you turn off your phone. It was just a text, man, calm down. Is this place that bad to begin with that they need security?

Explanation: Aside from any wannabe cop that might have legitimately harassed you in the past, security serves a purpose that goes beyond just giving someone a hard time. After having done it for a small number of years, I understand the frustrations some have toward the guy who they believe is trying to “mess with them” while often times, they really are just there to get people to shut up, turn their phone off, and let others enjoy the movie. I can’t tell you how many times I’d politely ask people to stop their conversation only to have complaints made against me that I was treating customers like they were children. Often times, people would become confused as to the presence of the security at all in a theater. “Is it really that bad?” It’s not a matter of whether or not the theater has people spitting their gum on the floor or maybe it’s where Al Qaueda is planning their next attack, the real purpose is to say that rules may be broken, and they have an entire position dedicated to making sure you enjoy your movie with as few distractions as possible.

Now this entire complaint is the toughest to argue against being that there are so many security guys out there that really do just want to push somebody around, but the position is still reasonable, not necessarily the fat, lazy, arrogant individual you may have had come to mind. And your phone is BRIGHT, jerkwad, turn it off.

1. My Movie Messed up, Why Can’t I get Something for Free?

So now that everything is clear, no more paying outrageously bad prices, no more security guy, your movie is going fine when suddenly…it cuts out. THIS. SUCKS. HOW WILL I KNOW WHETHER OR NOT MATT DAMON GETS THE GIRL? He’s only defied the fedora-wearing fate people with every single breath he’s taking next to this woman! Then it cuts back on. Okay, cool. But hey, your movie messed up just while you were getting into it. Your schedule has been offset by this entire thing. You planned for this movie to be out right at the two hour mark, or maybe it was just all out annoying, regardless of whether or not you had anything planned afterward. You deserve some compensation. Yeah, you stayed and watched the rest of the movie but there was the annoying delay. Why not get some money back? Or maybe the movie just really sucked, and you can’t believe you paid for that garbage? Why can’t you get some kind of refund?

Explanation: It’s one thing if your entire movie has stopped and it’s not coming back on. Maybe due to the whether or the projector screwed up and just ain’t nothin’ goin’ right. If you left because it screwed up halfway through and you’ve gotta go, you should be able to come back without paying the same full price, sure. But to watch your movie, stay through a blackout or delay, then finish it and try and get your money back isn’t happening. Why not? Because it’s like eating half your hamburger, finding a hair in it, eating the rest of the hamburger, then going back and claiming you want a refund. You’ve got to be able to say you didn’t take the entire product to get any of your return.

People generally think of the movies as being a different kind of business where watching this movie for free isn’t a big deal but the problem doesn’t necessarily just come down to one incident. As a business, things are bound to go wrong. It happens. But if you give out something for free because of a short accident every time, that’s not only a free movie every time a similar mistake is made, but it tells all those freeloaders that it’s as easy as just saying something went wrong to get free stuff. Trust me on this. For every one of you out there saying “This doesn’t apply to me” there’s just as many who try this.

This isn’t written as a form of “Stupid you, thinking the Man doesn’t have a thousand legitimate ways to take your money.” The movie theater is expensive and often you’ll come across theaters that just suck all around. Rather, explaining a set of rules that have more behind them than your regular business.


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