Movie Theater Etiquette: Fun Facts and Things to Consider Before the Movie

Movie Theater Etiquette: Fun Facts and Things to Consider Before the Movie


In the almost two years that I worked as a crewmember at two different AMC movie theaters, I can confirm the summer is the busiest season for movies. Regardless of how many Oscars these movies will win, people will show up to watch them. Therefore, now would be a good time to go over movie theater etiquette, fun facts and some things to consider this summer movie season.

Note to reader: All these hints were from working at an AMC Movie Theater; however, other movie theaters often follow the same rules and guidelines. 

Let’s start with etiquette:

Clean up after the movie
You don’t need to grab a broom and start cleaning, but just don’t leave a mess. The employees who clean after shows have anywhere between 25 to 30 theaters to clean within a six-hour shift. That may not sound like much, but at about 200 seats a theater, it really adds up. Taking out your trash saves us one minute, but if everyone does it, the time adds up. So please, take your trash to the trash can located outside every theater.

Control the little ones
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There are two reasons for this, each one more obvious than the last. First, it disrupts the movie and ruins other people’s movie experience. I can’t begin to count the mounds of complaints I personally received about children running through a movie theater. This also leads to lost children, which brings me to the next point: your children will get hurt! Regardless if you care about other people or not, you have to care about your children. Movie theaters are dark, so children can fall and get injured. If a child does get injured, the first question asked will be, “Were you watching your child?” Please be considerate of others and your children, and keep them with you at all times.

Don’t show up late and expect special treatment
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When you say, “I’m late for my movie; hurry up,” every employee in their head will think, “Well whose fault is that?” We understand, stuff happens, things come up, but don’t blame us, please. Don’t be that guest.

How to properly ask for a refund 
The three most likely reasons to get a refund are as follows: you have to leave a movie early (45 minutes into the movie and earlier is considered leaving early), you did not show up to your movie or your movie gets canceled. If you watch an entire movie and ask for a refund, it’s the same as eating all your food at a restaurant and asking for a refund. Just, no. Movie theaters are responsible for the film PRESENTATION, not the actual film itself. However, if anything interrupts your movie-going experience besides those three reasons, you could still try getting a refund. Just go up to the front desk, explain why you deserve a refund and wait for an answer. If you are told no and you are not satisfied with the answer, you can ask for a supervisor or manager. If you are told no again, that’s it. You don’t get a refund. Yell as loud you want, you will not get a refund.

Keep restrooms clean 
So how dirty can those bathrooms actually get? At bigger AMC’s, there is actually a shift where all you do is clean restrooms. That’s how dedicated employees are to making sure the theater stays clean. However, if you want a clean restroom, keep it clean. This isn’t a problem for just men’s restrooms but women’s restrooms as well.

Don’t use your cellphone
Just don’t.

Now that we have etiquette out of the way, let’s talk about some fun facts:

Why are food prices so expensive?
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Movie theaters make almost zero money from ticket sales. Almost 100 percent of the money from ticket sales goes back to the movie studios that made the movie. Therefore, theaters need to make their money off concessions. There is no bigger plan—the employees don’t get paid a commission; this isn’t a conspiracy. Hollywood loves its money, and after spending $200 million on making a movie I’m sure they want every penny of profit.

The difference between a supervisor and manager
I always wondered this question myself until the day I held a manager’s keys and a supervisor’s keys. The only difference is the manager has more keys. If you ask to talk to a manager and find yourself talking to a supervisor, don’t worry. Odds are they both have similar answers, if not the same answers, to your questions.

No one will sell you rated “R” tickets
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If you are 17 and under, you can only watch a rated “R” film with someone 21 or over. If you are between 17 and 21, employees will ask for a photo ID, your name and your age. So yes, passports do work. If you even look a little bit under 25, they will ask to see an ID. No ID, no movie. No one will sell you a ticket if you violate these rules because it’s actually very illegal to do so. I’ve seen people get fired over this issue, so trust me when I say that no one will sell you a ticket.

No six after six
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This is a lesser known fact that should actually be on every door at every theater. Children under the age of 6 will not be allowed into rated “R” films after 6 p.m. Oftentimes, many people complain about this rule, but think about it: should you really be bringing your 5-year-old child to watch American Sniper at 11 p.m.? And yes, I saw someone try to do that.

Assistive moviegoing, what’s that?
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Movies were meant for everyone to enjoy so more and more theater companies offer assistive moviegoing. The most common of these would be wheelchair seating, which is available in almost every movie theater. Other lesser known benefits include things such as assistive listening devices, closed caption devices and audio descriptive devices. You can read more about these benefits on the AMC Theaters website. Be sure to ask if the movie you will be watching offers any of these benefits before purchasing tickets.

All popcorn is fresh popcorn if it’s busy
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The biggest request I ever received was, “Can I please get fresh popcorn?” If there is a line that looks like you’re waiting for Space Mountain at Disneyland, then odds are there is popcorn being made constantly.

Now let’s talk about some things to consider before showing up to the theater:

Movies released during the week affect wait times
I’m going to let you in on a not-so-secret secret. Don’t go watch a movie on the premiere week for any Disney or Pixar movie. Just don’t do it, OK? OK. The movies that premiere affects all wait times. So if a big movie comes out that you aren’t planning on watching, I would recommend coming at a different time. And if you do plan on coming to watch a big movie on release weekend, plan ahead. For example: when The Minions Movie came out, people had to wait 40 minutes in line. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, people camped out and waited up to three hours in line. The struggle is real. If a movie is very popular, they may add another show but this only happens in Star Wars related scenarios. It sounds like I’m playing it up but Star Wars really does make movie theaters extremely busy.

Google showtimes are sometimes wrong
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*GASP* But the mighty Google is never wrong! Well, it is. However, it’s not Google’s fault. Sometimes, movie times change the morning of the showing, which doesn’t give Google enough time to update. The more reliable movie times are online, through the theater’s website. These times are correct 99.9 percent of the time because the ticket registers are directly linked to the same server as the online movie times. When something changes on the theater’s site, it changes on the registers.

Non-theater gift cards do not work at the theater
The exception to this is pre-paid visa gift cards. Besides that, if you have a gift card for Fandango or another auxiliary company, they will not work at the theater location itself.

Running late? You’ve got 20 minutes
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Your movie time is actually the time the movie trailers start. There are roughly 15 to 20 minutes of trailers before the actual movie begins. So if you don’t mind missing the movie trailers, you’ve got a 20-minute safety net.

Movie passes and what their colors mean
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If you are like most people, you probably got movie passes for free movies on your birthday or during the holidays. Well, let’s break down what the movie passes and their tickets mean (AMC Theater rules only):

Gold: Congrats, you can watch whatever you want for free. There might be an upcharge if you are in an Imax, 3-D or ETX movie experience.
Green: Same as the gold BUT not good for any movie made by Disney. Don’t blame AMC, blame Disney for this one.
Red: You can’t use these in California. I don’t even know why!
Re-admit passes: If tickets were Pokemon, these would be Mewtwo. These tickets are usually only given by theaters and are given to people who ask for a refund.

Well, there you have it, a complete rundown on movie theaters. Don’t forget to head down to the Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Games Room Etc. (Bldg. 35- 1110) to buy your discounted movie tickets. The Games Room is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this summer.

Do you know any movie theater facts or etiquette? Let us know by using the hashtag, #CampusCropChat on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, and don’t forget to follow us on Snapchat @asicpp.