Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Movie Theaters
You probably pay a visit to your local movie theater every once in a while. The concession snacks, the soft seats, the big screen — it's a fun night out that people have been enjoying for decades. But unless you've been an employee at one, how can you be sure you really know anything about movie theaters? What takes place behind the scenes that customers never hear about? Well, today you can find out. Take a look at these insider cinema secrets.
You Might Not Be Getting the Best Quality
Just like any other business, movie theaters have to make a profit in order to stay afloat. One of the ways they do this is by using a slightly lower screening quality. The highest quality is harder to maintain, and therefore costs the theater more to use.
Why the Popcorn Smells so Good
You know how you walk into a theater and are immediately hit with a wave of delicious popcorn smell? Well, it turns out that this enticing scent isn't created entirely by accident — workers have a variety of ways to boost this popcorn perfume to its fullest potential.
Don't Look Too Closely at the Theater Seats
It may be for the best that lights are dim inside the theater. Sometimes showings are scheduled almost back to back in the same room, and employees don't have enough time to clean all the spilled soda and discarded chewing gum before the next round of people show up.
Why Tickets Are Pricey
Let's face it — at most places, movie tickets aren't cheap. You could easily spend the cost of a fancy dinner just buying tickets and snacks alone! When you understand where that money goes, however, it starts to make more sense.
They Need You to Buy Concessions
Since they're not making much off of tickets, movie theaters depend heavily on concession sales. That's why your small popcorn costs $5 and a box of skittles $4! These high prices are infamous, and customers love to complain about them, but if things were cheaper, the movie theater likely wouldn't stay in business.
They Might Be Switching It Up on You
Movie theaters have control over how much popcorn goes into a small portion, how much goes into a medium, and so on. Because of this, the sizes often change from theater to theater and from one year to the next within the same business.
They're Keeping an Eye on You
This secret is shocking for many people, but it's true. You may feel anonymous hidden in a dark theater with nothing but a movie screen in front of you, but workers have their ways of keeping an eye on people.
They Aren't as Strict as You Think
This one varies from theater to theater, but most places aren't too concerned with under-aged kids getting in to see R-rated movies. If you look young, they're not going to sell you tickets without a valid ID, but if someone over 18 buys tickets for other people, no one will be the wiser.
You'd Be Surprised How Many People Try to Get It On in a Theater
It's a bit of a teenage cliche, but that it makes it all the more appealing to young couples out on a date — or older ones reliving their youth. They pick a pair of seats way in the back and proceed to play tonsil hockey for an hour and a half.
Viewers Can Have Strong Reactions to Movies
If you've ever seen a gruesome scene and felt sick to your stomach, then you know what we're talking about. Some directors like to push the envelope when it comes to intense scenes — whether they be sad, violent, shocking or scary — and not every viewer can handle it.
They Know You're Sneaking in Food
Do you really think they don't know you have candy shoved into your bulging pockets? Or soda from the corner store in your purse? Theater workers know that everyone sneaks food into a movie, and most workers don't particularly care. After all, they would probably do the same thing in your position.
3D Isn't So Hot Anymore
When they first started releasing 3D movies, they were all the rage. Imagine a movie that leaps from the screen and into your lap! Nowadays, however, 3D isn't as popular an option when it comes to watching movies. The numbers show that most people prefer a classic 2D viewing experience.
Previews Are Only Getting Longer
Cinemas are always looking for ways to improve their profits. With dwindling crowds, it's not always easy to stay alive. Their main income is concessions, but another important source of revenue is previews. That's right — your least favorite part of seeing a movie.
Employees Get Some Sweet Perks
Sure, employees get discounts on food and free tickets for their friends, but they also get secret perks that the public doesn't know about. For example, many theaters give their workers the opportunity to watch movies before they open them up to the public. Oh, and it's free, of course!
Seeing a Movie Can Be Bad for Your Health?
Who knew that going to the movies could put your health in jeopardy? Studies have shown that the noise level in theaters can be so loud as to damage your hearing — the equivalent of going to a rock concert without earplugs. Unsurprisingly, action movies are the most dangerous when it comes to loud sounds.
They're Not Actually Watching You From the Projection Booth
Many people think that little square window in the back is where workers sit and look out over the audience. If something goes wrong with the movie — like glitching — crowd members tend to shout at the projection booth because they think an employee will hear them.
People Get Revved Up in a Theater
With so many people in a theater at once, it's not surprising that they sometimes get into arguments. It doesn't take much to set some people off — just a well-timed phone ring or people laughing too loudly can be enough. It's not a strange occasion when a theater employee has to break up a fight between customers.
Piracy Is No Joke
Plenty of people see a lucrative opportunity when it comes to movie theaters. There are always people searching for recently released movies online, and other people looking to provide them. A pirated version that's shaky and low-quality might sound unpleasant to you, but there's someone somewhere who will watch it.
They Might Be Ripping You Off
We know that movie theaters want you to spend money on concessions and that concessions are expensive in order to keep their business afloat. Sometimes, however, they try to trick you into buying more using combo deals that aren't actually worthwhile.
Employees Have Fun After Hours
It seems like there's no end to the perks that movie theater employees enjoy. Not only do they get to see movies before anyone else, but some theaters allow workers to play video games on the big screen after everyone's gone home.
They Don't Control the Showings
If you've ever been bothered by which movies the theater shows and when, taking it up with the theater's manager won't get you far. Corporate is the one responsible for choosing the films and showtimes, so you have to take it up with them instead, and it’s not likely to work.
You Won't Believe What Employees Find Under the Seats
We've already established that moviegoers can be messy. The extent of their messiness, however, will shock you. Many theater employees have reported finding baby diapers discarded under seats. That's right — someone is changing their baby in the middle of the movie theater.
If You're Polite, They May Reimburse You
Going to a movie should be a pleasant — and quiet — activity. Every once in a while, something can ruin your movie that's out of your control — for example, crying babies, disruptive audience members or a wonky projection. If this should happen to you, try speaking with an employee and explaining the situation.
The Food Isn't Always the Freshest
Despite the fortune you spent on that theater popcorn, it might not be the freshest batch. Popcorn lasts about two days before going stale, and cinemas use as much as they can for as long as they can; your bucket of butter and salt might be a day old.
What Employees Don't Care About
Employees generally don't care when people sneak food into a theater or when under-aged kids sneak into an R-rated movie. The other thing they usually don't care about is when you go for a double feature — aka seeing two movies for the price of one.
They Have the Power to Blacklist You
Movie theaters don't play around when it comes to inappropriate behavior. If there is a particularly difficult customer who is constantly stirring up trouble or someone gets caught trying to pirate one of their movies, the theater has the power to blacklist that person from ever visiting the theater again.
Small Theaters Can't Stay Alive
As technology has developed, more and more movies are digitally filmed. This saves money for film-makers, but it requires special projectors for screening at theaters. These projectors don't come cheap, and smaller theaters have gone out of business because they couldn't afford the new technology.
They're Worried About Your Safety
The United States has seen a tragic increase in shootings over the years, and one of those shootings took place at a midnight showing in a movie theater. Following this incident, many theaters removed midnight showings and began taking extra safety precautions.
Try to Order Quickly at the Snack Booth
On an empty weekday, you can take as long as you want to pick out your size of popcorn and type of soda. If there is ever a line behind you, however, try to make it snappy. It might seem like common sense, but it's a pet peeve for movie theater workers.
Why They Won't Give You Extra Cups (or Change for a Dollar)
Ask a concession worker for an extra cup and they'll probably say no — but not because they don't like you. It's because theaters have strict inventory at the end of the night, and if the number of cups they handed out doesn't match the number of soda sales, the employee could be in trouble.