Signs go up as well as prices

posted by Simon Overton on October 29, 2008 at 9:47 am

It seems that most Regal Cinemas have revised their ongoing requests to cell phone abusers during showtime. New, large print signs, have now been posted at the entry doors to all auditoriums. Sprint and Regal have clearly stated the fact to patrons about silencing phones and, in bold print NO TEXTING. But the problem is still oblivious to many youngsters!

And now, just when times are getting financially worse for almost everyone, Regal recently increased their admission prices as well as those hard-to-resist drinks and munchies from the concession stand.

Meanwhile, as an usher at the Regal-9, Wilsonville, Oregon, this reporter has noticed a steep increase of outside food and drinks being sneaked into auditoriums. The leftover bottles, cans and candy wrappers are there as evidence after the show concludes. Even though small, yet almost unseen signs are on the bottoms of the lobby doors and box office windows, movie fans will do what they will to see their favorite stars and save a buck.

Theaters in this post

Comments (16)

danpetitpas on October 29, 2008 at 10:36 am

This is a great post.

Businesses can post all the warning signs they want, but unless there’s some means of enforcing them, people will ignore them. Back in the Golden Age, when there were really ushers rather than ticket takers, theaters could enforce policies like no talking, etc. Now, moviegoers are basically left alone in a darkened room with an anonymous mob that can do anything it wants. Look at some of the posts, such as for the Loews Boston Common, where the theaters are basically taken over on the weekends by their clientele.

There is technology that can block cell phones. I remember the Randolph, MA theater had signs up when it opened that cell phone signals were being blocked, but the FCC said that it would prohibit 911 calls from being made, so blocking transmitters were basically made illegal. Without any method to block them, people are going to text away.

As for bringing in food from outside, I think you’re seeing it more and more because the prices at the concession stands have become unreasonable-to-ridiculous. You can buy 10 liters of Pepsi in a grocery store for what some theaters are charging for a large drink. Likewise, you can buy two pounds of M&M for what they’re charging for a small package. The high concession prices is one of the main reasons some families stay home and watch DVDs. A family of four is looking at $50 or more just to go to a kiddie matinee!

The movie industry has played this game for decades: how high can it raise prices until a fall off in sales causes a reduction in profits. But as big screen TVs get bigger and bigger as they also get cheaper and cheaper, theater chains have to be careful. They could find their audiences staying at home, particularly during a recession.

monika on October 29, 2008 at 11:06 am

My husband and I went to the local AMC multiplex to see “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”. I carried in two Dasani waters in my purse (having worked at theatres for a decade, I believe I’ve earned the right to do this!). He wanted popcorn, so we looked at the “combo” menu at the concession stand…. #1 was a large drink and large popcorn, for $11!!!! I understand that concessions is where theatres make their money, but really! Simply unbelievable.

KenLayton on October 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Yes the signs will do no good unless there is someone from management actively going into each and every auditorium to warn and then boot out offenders. There has to be some “teeth” in the policy or people will continue to blab away on their phones or talk loudly during the movie.

Here are other problems that need to be addressed:

High ticket prices

High food prices

Tv commercials on screen

Obnoxious/rude/unruly people ruining the show

Lack of showmanship

The switch from the film experience to the home video experience

moviebuff82 on October 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Don’t forget blurry projection and loud surround sound. At the AMC near where I live in Rockaway, that’s the case there. But at the Clearview plexes in Succasunna, Parsippany, and Mansfield, it’s just right.

nerwall16 on October 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm

i worked for regal for 7 years, between 3 theaters, the bigger the company gets the less they care about the product, i went to see W. at the theater i use to run, got dirty looks from former employees, the concessionist was way to buisy talking to friends in line to deal with me, my soda was flat. no manager was to be found, the movie was out of frame the 1st 3 reels and the mens room looked like animals were grazing in there right before i came to use it.

i remember working at amc and regal and caring what people thought of our little 7 or 8 plex, coming to work looking clean and putting alot into how i present my films (except for the 2 mis splices in barn yard that got me written up)

JodarMovieFan on October 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm

With theaters charging $5 for popcorn and another $5 or so for drinks, is it any surprise that people sneak food and drinks into theaters? I do. HA! The theaters here starting with Regal started to increase prices about a $1 here. Before it was comfortable to pay $20 for two tickets, now its that plus more nowadays. And AMC’s IMAX is another $7 on top of that for two for basically larger DLP.

I recently passed the 1200 point mark on my Regal Club card. Hooray? I didn’t get my free movie pass as I suspect the slick cashier tore off not only my credit card receipt, but the free pass. I wrote to customer service, who confirmed it was printed but so far are silent about replacing the pass.

Given the above, do you think the movie theater chains get any sympathy from me?

JohnRice on October 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Me thinks the chains are digging their own graves with all of the above. High definition cable or satelllite TV or Blu-ray DVD, even regular DVD looks pretty damn good on a 42 or 50 inch plasma TV, even better than it does in some of our local multiplexes with their dim xenon lamps, poorly adjusted sound, and out of focus and out of frame projection by incompetents in the booth Then there are those cretins in the audience who want to talk to each other, talk on their cell phones or light up the whole theater while they text message. Forget those overpriced concessions too! Yeah I know it’s nice to get out of the house but one of these days I’m going to say “Enough is enough!”. That will be with some regret because I’ve been a movie-goer for over 50 years and look on the theater going experience in my younger years fondly. There was a time when going to the movies was an enjoyable and reasonably priced experience…really there was!

nerwall16 on October 29, 2008 at 6:58 pm

i still offer an adult movie ticket for 5 dollars, 3 dollars for matinee children and seniors

yet no one comes and becuse of that the movies will go the way of my dignity, kills me to think i am going to extremes to create an experiance like the ones i had as a child, these same things that made me fall in love with movies. and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO one cares at all, and in the end people will pile into regal for saw 12 while i have 4 or 5 people for casablanca

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on October 29, 2008 at 9:22 pm

In addition to my original article… If only EVERY private or chain operated cinemas and theaters would adopt the same attitude regarding disruptive people and cell phone violators.

Install infrared cameras to monitor the audience for cell phones and have the GUTS to kick the irritating offenders out!

But, “Oh no, we might upset them.” Well how about the other courteous patrons who have been disturbed?

People today are obsessed with their cell phones… just watch the audience members phones light up like a Christmas tree as the final scene fades on the screen! What have we spawned?

markp on October 30, 2008 at 7:37 am

Too bad newt wallen is right. Except for maybe the Lafayette in Suffurn N.Y. and Loews Jersey in Jersey City N.J. all the theatres that try to bring back the true movie going expierience are met with brick walls. You cant advertise, you can get decent prints of film, now they dont even want to reprint anymore, just put everything on that damn digital. And a cartoon and short subject? Unheard of. I had visions of doing this in Elizabeth N.J. at the Ritz Theatre, if it ever gets sold, and things get moving, but with the stories I hear, I just dont know. And its too bad because it would be great to do that in a 2800 seat house with a 38 foot wide screen. (And reel to reel changeovers, and carbon arc too!)

markp on October 30, 2008 at 7:40 am

Just to add to my above post. If it was the 20-plex across town from the above mentioned Ritz, why forget it, the line would be around the building. Once inside, you’re greeted with those high prices and lousey projection. And you know what? The people that go there don’t even notice, or care. That’s the real shame of it all.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 30, 2008 at 8:30 am

I started working in the movie industry in 1974. Back then everyone said rude patrons and high prices would soon drive us out of business. I am still waiting.

The arguments made above are variations of complaints reported in Variety as early as the introduction of sound.

markp on October 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I started in 1975 Al. And just to add to what you said, my father would say for years (before he went to that big movie palace in the sky) that T.V. would kill the theatres. Well…still waiting for that one too.

MPol on October 31, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Well, movie534, it sounds as if your father has been proven partly right…it’s slowly but surely happening.

nerwall16 on October 31, 2008 at 5:56 pm

no matter how big my tv gets no matter how great the surround sound or the high def

my favorite thing bar none in the whole world is sitting in a theater as the lights go down.

markp on October 31, 2008 at 11:49 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more newt, especially a big grand theatre, not these sheetrock cookie cutters they build today.

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