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Old 12-27-2012, 07:10 AM   #1
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Default 13 Secrets Your Movie Theater Employee Won't Tell You

"Good Morning America" teamed up with Reader's Digest on a special series, "13 Things Experts Won't Tell You." This month, Reader's Digest unveils the secrets your movie theater employee won't tell you, like how to save money, what foods to eat and more.

1. Why does it smell so good? The popcorn has chemicals in it to make its aroma fill the theater.

2. "Extreme Digital" is actually lower quality than IMAX digital. We use it because it's easier to maintain.

3. For the first month or two of screening, money from ticket sales goes to movie studios. Theaters rely on concession stands to make money. That's why concessions are overpriced. Popcorn costs almost nothing to make.

4. I know all the methods you use to sneak in. I just don't always care enough to kick you out for it.

5. The only foods I trust are the popcorn, drinks, and boxed candy. I wouldn't eat the pretzels, hot dogs, or nachos.

6. Chances are, if you complain to the manager and he sides with you, he's just putting on a show to calm you down. The manager might pretend to yell at me for a minute, but he'll pat me on the back the moment you're out of sight.

7. Combination deals don't save you money at some theaters. You'd pay the same price if you purchased the items separately.

8. Think you're saving calories by ordering a small popcorn? That "small" popcorn could have been a medium last month.

9. Stop getting angry that your food isn't ready. Microwaves can't cook frozen pizzas in 30 seconds!

10. No, I can't give you extra cups. Everything is inventoried at the end of the night.

11. Your suspicions are correct. Sometimes I sweep excess food under the seats. Movies often end every few minutes. Sometimes, three or more screenings end at the same time. I don't always have time to clean everything up.

12 Yes, movies start late. But they almost always end on time otherwise, the ushers wouldn't know when to clean up. Theaters tell you to come in early so you have time to watch commercials and previews.

13. Popcorn keeps for a day or two. Many customers confuse warm with fresh.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:13 AM   #2
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i couldn't even tell you how many garbage bags filled with popcorn i have eaten in my life... and i've never even worked at a theater. but i have known many who have.
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:42 PM   #3
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#3 isn't entirely true. Theaters keep almost half of the ticket revenue.
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Old 12-27-2012, 01:49 PM   #4
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He knows that I put candy in my pocket?!?
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:16 PM   #5
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Wow, a lot of those seem self-evident to me.

6. could be said about pretty much any customer service job.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:18 PM   #6
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Yeah, all of these are fairly common knowledge. Shows like GMA are targeted at the masses though, and on the whole, people are stupid. They don't have much in the way of common knowledge or common sense.

#7 isn't true at my local theater. Their combos are usually the same price as just buying popcorn. I've seen it be the case in most large chain theaters, though. It's one of the reasons I love my local so much. Plus, their combos are far cheaper than most other places.

#6 is definitely true for almost any job in the service industry. So many people tell blatant lies in petty attempts to get employees in trouble for daring to tell someone something they don't want to hear, that it's a must.

#3 varies from one country to the next. In the US it can vary depending upon the movie and it's distributor. On average in the US, the studio keeps 90% of the box office take the first week, and the percentage falls with each passing week.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by IanTheCool View Post
Wow, a lot of those seem self-evident to me.

6. could be said about pretty much any customer service job.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:46 PM   #8
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Number 5 seems fairly obvious. Like Elaine from Seinfeld said...

"A theater hot dog? Yuck..I'd rather eat off the floor."
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:25 PM   #9
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Not sure about other theaters, but this is my experience from my own.

1. I suppose so? When you pop popcorn, it's going to give off a smell. Just as it does at your house, it does at the theater. We use Redenbacher kernels, and butter oil and salt. Without the oil, the kernels will not pop, and that's what ultimately gives off the smell. I'm not sure how this is a secret though.

2. Many theater chains, in the event they don't HAVE an IMAX, will sometimes have a special alternative. These will have larger screens, better surround sound, and a better projector. True, most of these tend to not be as good as an IMAX, which I find largely in part due to IMAX digital using two projectors, while even the "special" theaters still use one. I find it can make a big difference when it comes to clarity, and of course 3D. Whether or not they're "as good" depends on the theater. IMAX projectors use Christie or Barco projectors typically, which are openly available to all theaters who so choose to purchase them.

None of this, of course, has much to do with traditional IMAX, which still have the highest resolution and are not digital at all.

3. I'll tell this to people who love to complain about concession prices (like it's something new). I wouldn't think this is much of a secret anymore, but people are still naive.

4. We know people sneak in food. We're not going to go out of our way to bust you. If you walk in with fast food and drinks in hand, we may tell you to finish eating it before you walk into the theater, but our theater is different than most in that if the food is from one of the restaurants in the shopping area, we don't really care.

5. I would trust popcorn the least. It is the cheapest food item of course. Our franks are the same ones you'll make at home for yourself, or get at the ballpark. Same goes for the nachos. Our pretzels are made from scratch and tend to be a good selling point. Save for mixing the dough, they are also prepared and baked in front of the customers. Whoever is baking them can make a difference sometimes of course.

6. Our general manager will try to please almost everyone, but he will never yell at or blame an employee unless they were quite clearly in the wrong and not doing their jobs right. He will, however, make sure customers are happy and hoping to come back if there is even the slightest speed bump in theater operations.

7. Our combos save you money. Not enough, I think, but they do.

8. Not sure what this one implies. Our popcorn sizes have been the same for years. A better secret may be the fact that people ask for no butter because they believe it's more fattening, but our butter doesn't really have much fat. It's just liquid butter flavoring.

9. Our pizza is oven cooked, the same as most big chain pizza places. That isn't saying much, but its prepared and goes on a conveyor belt to cook. I don't particularly care for it though. Speaking of which, none of our food is microwaved. We have a grill and fryer for all our other foods, and always have fresh, daily sliced goods (cheeses and vegetables). All of this is prepared in front of the customers.

10. I'm not sure how this is a secret either. That is what people are told when they ask for extra cups (or ones for free), and it's true. All our main cups are inventory checked each night. It seems excessive to me, but it is what is done. We do have small complimentary cups for water, though.

11. Our ushers try to be as thorough as possible, but alas somethings do get left below the seats. They don't, however, sweep things under the seats that are out in the isles. Some things may just end up getting left under them if not noticed. Time is not on their side always to do an absolute thorough cleaning, which would take far too long. And then of course every theater is cleaned completely, every nook and cranny each night.

Rarely do movies get out at the same time. They're specifically setup so that they don't. The closest usually is 5-10 minutes on a packed day, and cleaning time gaps can vary depending on whether or not people leave before the credits end, and how many ushers are available to split up if needed.

12. Movies can start late if there's a technical issue. This day in technology, our screens (like most) are started automatically. So unless there's a hiccup in the computer system, they will always start on time.

In the event that they do start late, they also get out late. I'm confused as the logic behind a movie starting late, but somehow managing to "end on time". We won't end the movie early if it started late. Ushers have a general idea when a movie gets out, but of course they can't and won't start cleaning until every patron has left a theater. In the event that a movie started late, we will pull people from elsewhere to get the theater cleaned on the double, so as to minimize any lateness to other show exits.

As for telling people to come in early, the only people who do so typically are the ticket sellers, who only tell customers that in the event that a showing is going to be busy or sold out, so that they can try to get a good seat.

13. This is an unfortunate truth, but I've never seen popcorn kept for more than a day. If there is leftover popcorn from night before, it will be sealed and kept overnight, and is first sold in the morning, often mixed with freshly popped popcorn. I honestly can't tell the difference. I know it, and I still eat if I'm opening. Needless to say it doesn't last long, and save for the opening shows, it's entirely fresh the rest of the day (so to speak).
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Last edited by Fanible; 12-28-2012 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:39 PM   #10
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Having said all that, the best "secret" I will let people in on sometimes is when we have our special edition cups for movies. They are reusable, and because we give free refills on our large popcorns and drinks, as long as we're still selling said cup, you can bring it back in and get a free refill. The refills do not dictate when you bought said item, just that you have the container to be refilled.
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Last edited by Fanible; 12-27-2012 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:51 PM   #11
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I think I already know that cinemas now are the worst places to be. Staff all have bad attitudes.. Public are inconsiderate *******s always shining their bright mobile phone displays in your face, distracting you from the movie and as you have pointed out over priced and and allround unpleasent place to be.

Its a shame

Last edited by kantsas; 12-31-2012 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:36 AM   #12
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I started using CineMode at Cinemark theatres and already got a free drink. Also, there was some app I used that got me a free medium popcorn with the purchase of a large drink. Paying $5 felt so good, and a medium is usually about all I can handle in a movie.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:26 AM   #13
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Here's a secret they won't tell you:

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