The theater industry is pretty crazy. I know all the ins and outs. Ask me anything!

Here's my proof- online pay stub.

Well, dudes, this has been awesome. I have to go now, but I'll still be occasionally answering questions.

Comments: 2817 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

faultlessjoint554 karma

Do theater employees actually care if I bring outside food/beverage in? What about alcohol? I often bring a chik-fil-a sandwich and beer with me to the movies. Do I need to continue acting like I'm smuggling heroin through customs or do the employees not care?

If it matters, said theater is also a Regal.

captain_thrace706 karma

As a theatre employee, not a chance that we care. Just throw your trash out at the end. I've brought Moe's in, and a beer now and then. Now, if you get trashed and puke everywhere, we will call the cops (has happened before), and that's not pretty. But really, just clean up your stuff and hide it on the way in. No one is going to check your bag, and if they do, they're not looking for food, they're looking for weapons.

glassonion87245 karma

As a manager of an IMAX, it definitely irritates me when people try to bring in boxes of pizza... I mean, come on!

captain_thrace88 karma

Well, yeah. That's not even trying. But I didn't care if someone brought a sandwich or something.

Weklim229 karma

So saving old popcorn buckets and filling them with home cooked popcorn w/ snacks on the bottom + old soda cups w/ code red wasn't actually necessary?

captain_thrace169 karma


tunersharkbitten29 karma

Dude, I would be REALLY careful about what you say here in representation of REG. I worked for them for 7 years, and in the process made manager and lead projection. I know for a FACT that serveral district managers and quite a few general managers are redditors themselves. I went to train with them in Kansas City.

captain_thrace113 karma

Thanks, but I don't work for them anymore. Quit a bt ago. The company is terrible to work for. I loved my GM and other managers, but REG is such a terrible place.

tunersharkbitten25 karma

agreed bro. welcome to the winning team. whatcha got planned now?

captain_thrace87 karma

Grad school

mgr8611 karma

According to the title, he is a former employee.

But, I'd like to say something about Regal theatres. Next to ISPs and Airlines, I hate you almost as much. That is all. But don't take it too personally, I know its not all the theatres fault. Production Companies, I am looking at you.

tunersharkbitten23 karma

i dont work for them anymore. it was a high school job or me, that turned into a college job, and right before it turned into a career, i said FUCK IT and left. joined the military, served for 6 and now im out.

captain_thrace32 karma

That's what happened to me too. It's really bad when you've only been there for a year and a half and you're the most senior floor staff employee.

tunersharkbitten12 karma

dude, i was in concession for 3, and was training people 3 years older than me. plus they made me work maintainence for a few months when they were overhauling for the new realD 3d bullshit. new screens on 20 theaters and new projectors... they made me a manager shortly thereafter. told them that i did more for that theater than most and if they didnt appreciate that then i could take my knowledge to amc.

captain_thrace30 karma

You have one or two competent people on floor staff, everyone else is just there to make some weekend cash and couldn't care less about customers or customer service. I was there for three years, and a paperwork technicality disqualified me from management. My DM tried to get it straightened out, but corporate wouldn't have it. After that I really stopped trying to be an excellent employee.

slightly_illegal11 karma


captain_thrace35 karma

Hmm. Basically the disciplinary program at Regal goes like this: First step= first offense. Management can give as many of these as they want, without necessarily advancing to the next step. Second step= more serious. ANY issues after this moves to third step, and then to firing.

So, basically I was late by 15 mins once, got a first step. Drawer over by $12 in box office, got a first step. I'm allowed as many of these as management allows. I was late by 5 minutes back from break, and one manager who had taken it upon herself to be the very strict disciplinarian put me on a second step. This was all in the span of a year. I now was unable to be promoted to manager, even though I was the most senior floor staff employee, and the one who my GM said was the one he would promote, and on several performance reviews the managers all said I had management potential.

My District Manager (GM's boss) tried to convince corporate that I was the best employee they had, but they only looked at the paperwork. Ergo, stupid company. They shoot themselves in the foot by not promoting people who would do things well, and giving floor staff no incentive to do anything but be very average employees.

ChanceyGardener148 karma

Former movie theater manager here, our policy was no outside food or drinks. That being said, I don't give a shit what you bring in - just don't parade it in front of me as you enter or I'm going to ask you to throw it away.

captain_thrace232 karma

I was the same way. I even told a customer that instead of being late to her movie by going down the street and eating her sandwich at Subway, she could just bring it in as long as she hid it. Got a very loyal customer out of her after that.

phobosdeimos464 karma

I went to the last showing of star trek which finished at 2 am and I was the only one in the theater. The lobby was empty and there were no other cars in the parking lot. Was I alone in there?

captain_thrace528 karma

Nope. There's always a manager/concessionist hanging around until all the people are out of the building. They just have closing stuff to do, so they're not usually hanging out in the lobby. Most of the time, closers get out at about 3 or 4.

sonofaresiii77 karma

Plus they often have separate parking, which is why he didn't see any other cars in the parking lot.

captain_thrace107 karma

Not always. I usually parked in the normal lot. I didn't always drive though.

touristoflife21 karma

are they given coffee? i heard that coffee is only for closers

captain_thrace18 karma

We don't have a coffee machine, and Regal would rather shoot itself in its collective foot than give employees free anything.

el_chunko349 karma

how much sex have you seen go down in empty theaters?

captain_thrace502 karma

At least twice. A couple times they weren't empty.

captain_thrace468 karma

We do stop them, but don't usually kick them out. It's mostly their embarrassment that kills the mood.

Flash_0941 karma

Are there cameras in the theater watching the people or do they get caught by the ushers walking through?

captain_thrace89 karma

No cameras in the theatre. You wouldn't be able to see anything.

theminn18 karma

i have had sex a few times in theater (always the back row) when it is empty, can you still see me ? i make sure not to get my man juice on the floor so i hope that makes it better =)

captain_thrace40 karma

Back row, empty theatre, on the floor, most likely not. However, some theatres, when they do walks, have the employee go all the way up the stairs to check the theatres, and then that's probably not going to be good.

LetMePointItOut349 karma

I recently found an independent theater nearby me that has 6 screens and all the new releases. Tickets are $4 for students, $6 for everyone else and $3 for everyone on Monday. How are their prices so low? The screens and sound are excellent, just as good as any chain theater around here, the food is less money, everything is less except for the quality.

captain_thrace415 karma

They're not a corporate theatre. I've worked for two of them and it's the same way. That's really what I was talking about with the price increases in concession. Independent theaters can make it without going crazy, but if it's a corporation like Regal, the guys in the office in Tennessee are driving everything up.

Lunawinter221 karma

Wow, the wages in the US never cease to amaze me :( I work at an Australian cinema and make $23 an hour. It's one of the busiest in Australia so it's definitely not an easy job, but I just can't imagine doing what I do for almost $8 an hour.

captain_thrace416 karma

Holy butts man. I'd clean up all the popcorn in the world for $23/hr.

aweekendwarriorf214 karma

  1. Do theater employees watch the crowd to make sure they're not pirating sounds/images?

  2. Why do people think it's okay to leave their trash in the theater?

captain_thrace373 karma

  1. Yes, we do. In Regal cinemas, at least we have to walk through the theaters at least twice per showing. I have never caught anyone pirating, but one of my coworkers did. He got a $500 bonus, more than two weeks pay.

  2. Most people don't even think about it. Sometimes, when people make a deliberate nasty mess (think, throwing popcorn everywhere, wrappers from individual candy bars, dip cups, ect. ) that's really only when it upsets me.

sodomy_bake_sale176 karma

seinfeld did a bit on this once at the oscars... he said this is the covenant between movie patrons and theaters: management massively overcharges for concessions; ergo, moviegoers dump trash on the floor and expect it to be cleaned up for them in return... except when seinfeld said it, there was some humor there that i can't do...

captain_thrace256 karma

Yep, that sounds about right. The problem is that it's the peons who are cleaning things up, and not anyone remotely connected to the price setting. I must get "God, that's so expensive" eight times a shift. The funny thing is, the people who complain the most are the one spending the most money. No one's forcing them to buy food, they just can't go two hours without snacking, and instead of buying one refillable $8 popcorn for four people, they buy each one a small $6 popcorn. And then get mad at us for how much they spent.

smacks forehead

CandeeExplosion61 karma

I just realized that when I was a teenager I would throw pieces of candy at really annoying people.

I always picked up MY trash--but never thought about the candy and crap. Sorry...

captain_thrace58 karma

It's okay. :) Most of the time it's just the deliberate messes that annoy us.

toThisExtent1 karma

What happened to the person caught pirating? Was any legal action taking or was he reported to the policy, or simply kicked out?

captain_thrace8 karma

I'm not really sure. I think they called the cops, but it was a while ago.

HardlyEasy187 karma

Is there ever a time after the theaters close that employees get a special movie showing? Or any times that you get to see a movie earlier than scheduled?

captain_thrace220 karma

Not anymore. :(

HolySimon73 karma

Is this due to policy changes or the advent of digital projection (doing away with the need to screen a print for accuracy)?

captain_thrace118 karma

We still screen prints, but it was a policy chage.

ChanceyGardener110 karma

Former manager again, I used to see movies all the time before they came out. Most theaters are all digital now so the movies arrive on a huge hard drive. We ingest it into our system at our main computer, where we can then send it out to other auditoriums. The hard drives only become active after we get "keys" for them via satellite. These digital keys normally have dates on them as to when they are active (IE Star Treks that just were shipped out were active a whole two days before it was released). So it really just depends on when the studio deems it active.

Most BIG studio movies (Harry Potter, Avengers) keys aren't good until the morning of the release, so it's hard to get a jump on them. I remember when we had to wait for keys for The Dark Knight TRAILERS.

But I also used to have keys to the building too, so I'd say the best perk was getting to go into the theater at 2am and watch whatever the hell I wanted.

captain_thrace222 karma

One of my theatres had a projector we could hook up an XBOX to, so we played vidjagames in the theatres sometimes after hours. It was great.

YellowTorpedo41 karma

I don't know how it is at other theatres, but where I work we usually get to see bigger movies (Gatsby, Iron Man, etc) the day before release. The chain I work at is much smaller than Regal or AMC, however.

captain_thrace73 karma

Regal had an issue with people bringing in non-employees, alcohol and weed/whatnot, so they issued a corporate-wide policy that made it so no one could pre-screen movies except one scheduled manager.

Genxcat152 karma

When a movie run ends, do you all get to divide up the promo posters and such, or are your bosses hoarding it all?

captain_thrace237 karma

Depends on the theatre. Most of the time they're kept for incentives for good employees. If you do extra work, sometimes they'll let you keep a poster.

cordell507364 karma

It sounds like they treat Yall like elementary students.

captain_thrace336 karma

Bingo, mister.

cupcake_queen34 karma

I worked for a cinema chain in Australia and they would do a silent auction for the posters. Customers would go up to the usher and say a price they would pay and give their details. When the poster wasn't needed the person was called and could buy the poster. Some of them went for crazy money - Twilight posters especially. Those that didn't sell were free for the staff to take but you had to put your name down first.

captain_thrace63 karma

I'm pretty sure in America it's illegal to sell posters.

vahillbilly131 karma

Do you ever let your friends in for free?

captain_thrace230 karma

Managers are allowed to let in anyone they want, under a reasonable limit. Sometimes employees will let people slip in, but that only works if it's really busy. Slow Monday night, not a chance.

lemonscientist146 karma

My boyfriend and I both work at an AMC. If we're on duty, we can let family members in for free, we just have to log it in a binder. Off duty, we can get ourselves, friends, and family into ANY AMC in the country for free. We just have to call our manager who then contacts the theater we wish to attend and lets them know how many tickets we'll be needing.

It's really nice because we both love movies so much. I've seen three in the past week!

captain_thrace96 karma

That's how it is for Regal, too, but off duty we have to accompany the friends/family.

comicsmaniac123 karma

How often do you catch people sneaking in/staying after a film to get a free double feature?

captain_thrace173 karma

Rarely. Most people actually don't do that, although it would be easy on a busy night. I wouldn't try anything like that on a weekday/weeknight though. We recognize people more easily when we only have 50 customers per set.

indoctrinatenot117 karma

Why does movie theater trash smell like demon farts?

captain_thrace146 karma

No idea. But it totally does. I think it's the most foul smelling trash I've EVER sniffed. Something to do with popcorn reacting to the soda.

LuckyMojave91 karma

What is your favorite kind of soup, if any?

Do you currently have any pets?

Have you ever had to clean a moviegoers cum off a chair?

captain_thrace80 karma

No to the cum. I'm sure it's happened though.

corgonin191 karma

Dammit man, what is your favorite kind of soup?!

captain_thrace176 karma

Broccoli cheddar.

Kreamcannon89 karma

How often do underage kids get caught sneaking into R rated movies, and any funny stories about that?

captain_thrace256 karma

Tons of times. Teenagers are really bad at this. Often opening weekend of an R-rated sex comedy or horror movie we'll have someone checking IDs at the door. Kids scream and cry. It's great.

The best story was one time, by happenstance, all the R-rated movies were on one side of the theater, and a bunch of kids movies on the other side. A giant group of kids with tickets to the kids movie we were playing just kept giving the managers a bunch of furtive glances, then practically ran towards the R rated movie side. It was great. We kicked them all out and called their parents.

Moral of the story- just don't be sketch about it, and don't try anything opening weekend.

jedinkel74 karma

What would of happened if you guys caught my girlfriend giving me a Blowjob during a Keanu Reeves movie?

captain_thrace369 karma

Leave you there to die of your own shame.

Ruby_Woo2253 karma

For the blowjob or paying for a Keanu Reeves movie?

captain_thrace295 karma


hosinthishouse67 karma

How often do you catch people getting freaky in the back of the theater?

captain_thrace139 karma

Every once in a while. Mostly it's teenagers doing hand stuff.

That_Big_Lesh59 karma

Thanks for the AMA. Did you ever have to stop a movie for any reason? And how did they get the person who was pirating out? It's impossible to pass through filled seats!!

captain_thrace66 karma

Most of the time, most people go to movies when there's a ton of people, but often theatres are half empty.

We've never stopped a movie for any reason except a fire alarm, or occasionally the power has gone out or surged.

CandeeExplosion58 karma

If we say something about it, can you adjust the volume? I doubt you'll do it for one person, but is someone even able to?

Or if something is going a little wonky? When I went to see Star Trek, the dialogue was way too low against the sound of all the action noises. I wasn't able to hear the very beginning of the movie.

One of the reasons I don't go to the theater all that often is that the volume is so freaking loud! It definitely doesn't need to be that loud. Sometimes it really hurts my ears.

I always want to tell a worker or something, but I think they would just shrug and say they couldn't do anything about it, or think it's a complaint.

captain_thrace102 karma

We actually do that, for sure. If it's too loud, ask a manager if they can please turn it down, and usually they'll have no problem doing that.

The problem is that we can't run up and down the stairs every half hour to adjust the volume, so if it's a loud action movie and there's quiet dialogue parts and now you can't hear it because you asked us to turn it down, tough nuggets.

If you have sensitive ears, you could definitely bring ear plugs. That's the best solution I have.

The sound is all flattened on one channel, so we can't adjust music versus dialogue volume. It's pretty much identical to the volume on your TV.

Direbane57 karma

i must know the brand of popcorn they sell, its too addictive ><

edit Thanks for all the replies guys. i appreciate it =)

captain_thrace114 karma

There isn't a brand, really. It's just the type of kettle. Regular popcorn seeds, flavored salt (you can buy it at the grocery store), and coconut oil with some flavoring additives. In my opinion, it's non-reproducible outside of a theatre-grade kettle system. :(

acreepyreject48 karma

What was the most frustrating experience you've had?

captain_thrace194 karma

Probably on a daily basis, people complaining about prices. I KNOW they're expensive, and so does everyone. But movie-going is a choice, and you have made that choice by coming to the theater.

People will just rattle off these huge orders in concession without even looking at the menu and then complain when the total is more than $40 or $50. It's not like we're tricking them into buying stuff; the prices are all right there.

Another hugely frustrating experience is when people complain excessively about silly things and then expect to get free tickets/food/whatever. They're available for legitimate reasons, but if a baby was crying the WHOLE time you were in the theatre and you never came out to tell us, don't expect free tickets.

We actually have a corporate database for those kinds of people.

harryhartounian36 karma

I'm a dope fiend for movies and see at least one a week in the theater with my wife (and if I'm seeing one, I'm sneaking into a second. Sorry!).

My question is this: How can one go about owning a movie theater? I'm sure it's highly litigious, but is it an impenetrable, clandestine organization? Is it possible to own a corporate theater and still have any influence on the films played, or would a playful mindset be better put to use in an independent theater setting.

Also, what might be the pros/cons of owning something corporate like a Regal and owning a second-run theater (alcohol serving, of course) which can show old/vintage films? I suppose the question of a profit margin is relevant too: So is there distinctly more money to me made from owning one theater (independent) vs. the other (corporate)?

captain_thrace32 karma

Regal is corporate, which means no independent ownership. I wouldn't attempt to own a theatre unless you have a really decent amount of experience.

captain_thrace2 karma

I also worked at an independent theatre that served alcohol, and that was one of our most profitable concession items. We only had problems with drunk people a few times.

Happyjake497 karma

From your opinion do you care about stoners if they come into your theater? Like they aren't rude or causing issues and have payed fully for their ticket. But if you could clearly recognize they are high because of smell or just how they act, would you care?

captain_thrace11 karma

Nope. If they're not being weird or ridiculous and we have no customer complaints. We don't kick out drunk people either, unless they're being disruptive or vomit or something. Then your ass is out.

nwcolbert6 karma

How often did you watch movies in the theater?

captain_thrace33 karma

Quite a lot, actually. 3-5 times a week during summer/winter when the movies were great.