Mega-Plex Guzzo Taschereau 18’s owner ordered to pay $10,000 in damages for a search

posted by rivest266 on May 29, 2009 at 7:30 am

GREENFIELD PARK, QUEBEC, CANADA — The Mega-Plex Guzzo Tascherau Cinema was ordered to pay $10K in damages for illegally searching a customer.

A Quebec court has ordered a cinema to pay $10,000 in damages after staff searched patrons' bags and turned up smuggled snacks and birth control pills — and in the process violated their privacy rights.

The incident happened in 2007 when a woman took her two daughters to Cinemas Guzzo in Montreal to watch the film “Shrek the Third,”.

Read more at CTV.

Theaters in this post

Comments (6)

Ron Carlson
Ron Carlson on May 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Just read the above story and blog and am amazed at how uninformed people are. The movie theaters are told how much to charge at the box office by the film distributors. Each market is set with a minimum price. Then the theaters must pay up to 90% of the box revenue back to the various distributors. So how is a theater to survive and pay their own bills? They sell concessions! Yes they are overpriced but when you have a morgage to pay and utilities and staff wages and taxes and insurance, etc. etc, etc, you must do something to raise capitol or go under. Also there would be no need for searching if people weren’t so dishonest and try to pirate a film for their own use or to sell. Movies are not public domain, they are private property that customers are granted an opertunity to view with the price of addmission. Not steal! Like viewing art in a gallery, or museum. The film industry’s #1 priority is to stop film theft. As a society we have brought this down on ourselves by being overprivilaged and self rightous. 30 years ago when I was a young adult going to the movies was a pleasure as the patrons were mostly courteous and respectfull. And if you caused problems you were given the boot. Now it is all about ME> ME> ME>.

KingBiscuits on May 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

That will buy a lot of movie tickets.

John Fink
John Fink on May 30, 2009 at 7:39 am

The search thing is the thing that blows my mind the most. The laws, of coarse are different in Canada and I’m not sure if this cinema has a problem with patrons sneaking in food, but if a theater asked me to consent to a search, I’d ask them to provide a warrant. Perhaps Dick Chaney and the MPAA can join forces and craft a “procedure” for this. Maybe they’ll even give Cinemark’s Front Row Joe permission to start water-boarding suspected patrons.

This is an odd infringement on the rights of the privacy of the patrons, understandably some infringement is required in some areas (ie: metal detectors in a theater where public safety is an issue – see Sunrise Multiplex), but smuggled in snacks – give me a break. Of coarse it doesn’t say what exsactly was smuggled in, often I’ll take something in the theater that the theater doesn’t offer (ie: Jamba Juice at AMC, which allows one to bring in snacks). While there I may purchase popcorn, but a lot of theaters don’t offer healthy alternatives (some do). I would get annoyed at people that bring in certain types of foods that might offend others with their odors – there is obviously a difference between someone who sneaks in a small bag of Twizzlers and someone that takes in an entire meal.

Movie theaters don’t help themselves. Ron, I will give you a Canadian example: while at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, I was upset that the Scotiabank Theater for a good part of the day (a Saturday, no less) operated only the main concession and coffee bar stands – they did not have the food court (KFC, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, ect) stands open. Seeing as I was spending the entire day in the building watching films, it would have been nice to have had lunch at some point.

Regarding your discussion of piracy: I’m a firm believer that if films were better no one would have a reason to pirate them. Studios shortening windows between theatrical and video as well as same day VOD (ie: The Girlfriend Experience and every IFC Films release) don’t help the situation. I understand they are copy written works but good pirated versions are stolen at a studio level (screeners) as demonstrated with Wolverine. They need tighter controls in house. Camcorder piracy seems minor, especially in a multiplex. What moron wants to watch a shaky camera video recording of the screen – whereas copied screeners I am told are pristine.

With that said, I’ve observed the obnoxious practice of teens snapping cell phone pictures on screen – is this piracy? It is a form of it, as well as being annoying. Cell phones should be turned off but security, unless your at a prerelease screening doesn’t ask you to do so. Theaters should do more to create a respectful movie going environment, as a matter of habit, while I’m at the movies when the lights go down, my phone gets shut off – not put on vibrate. Nothing is that important that it can’t wait 2 hours. The problem as well is HD quality cameras are now so small they can fit in one’s pocket, perhaps the only useful way to combat piracy is having a person with night vision googles stand in front of the screen and watch the audience (that or 3D).

From a customer service end, a chain that counts the beans so closely that they violate their own privacy policy is one I probably wouldn’t attend. The situation seems like poor customer service and relations. I have no problem paying for good movie theater concessions, but chains that have awful stale popcorn, watered down sodas and unimaginative snacks don’t deserve my money. Perhaps I’m reverting to the Me Me Me attitude of your post, but it’s movie theater snacks aren’t cheap nor healthy. Like the studios, exhibiters need to put out a high quality product. I know its a business, but look at Pixar, the secret to their success is high quality. Since the major chains are consolidating, they need to further address this – high margin items are fine for the bottom line but if the food they offer is nasty tasting and they are the only show in town, I can understand why someone would sneak in their own snacks to enjoy with the screening.

Austin Klososky
Austin Klososky on May 30, 2009 at 10:20 am

The ONLY time I’ve ever heard of this is when the studio sends their own security for a sneak-peak. Most bags are checked for cell phones, cameras, etc. Which are not allowed at all during a sneak. It is a simple deterrent of film theft.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Alas, in the U.S. we have the Bush/Cheney Patriot Act which means theatres can search as they please or toss your ass out.

Still, I recently saw a movie at the AMC Empire in New York along with a howling cat, property of a fellow patron with enough bags for a week’s travel.

MPol on May 31, 2009 at 6:09 am

It’s disgraceful that people can and do get away with illegal stuff such as downloading, comcording, and recording movies in a movie theatre, and certain controls have to be put on. However, I think that the business of searching patrons indiscriminately is unacceptable, because a lot of INNOCENT people get hurt as a consequence of such a practice, plus it will drive more and more people away from the theatres entirely.

Ron Carlson: I agree that people, no matter what age, who definitely ARE troublemakers, should be issued a warning, or given the boot if they don’t comply.

From what I read/heard, Israel has long had a system in place that causes cellphones, etc. to jam up on their users in public places such as movie theatres, restaurants, etc. when they attempt to use them. Too bad we don’t have a system like that in place here.

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