11 Observations From A Former Movie Theater Employee


Between sophomore year of highschool and the summer before I left for college I worked at my local movie theater. Although it was only 12 screens, it was essentially the only thing to do in our town– so people flocked there. Throughout my close to three years with the company, I have seen some truly baffling things. I understand that every movie theater is run different and this is not a reflection on any of those companies; just ones from my own personal experience as a concession worker and ticket-taker.
  1. No matter how long they’ve been staring at the menu or how regular of a customer they are, people will act incredulous about the prices of concessions. They’ll flare up as if you personally decided popcorn should be $9 just to ruin their day.
  2. People have visceral reactions to movies, which can be beautiful at times and fucking terrifying at others. I’ve seen people run out of films crying and others storm out in rage because no one warned them that there would be man-butts in the film and they’re offended.
  3. Similarly, patrons will be the first to seek you out and tell you just how bad/ amazing a movie they just saw was in a way that makes you feel as if you were behind the camera creating it yourself. “I’m am personally sorry for how bad Transformers 3 was, ma’am, yes, it was unrealistic; yes, the script was awful…i’m so sorry.”
  4. Even if you have the face of a newborn infant, like myself, customers will turn rabid when it comes to their concessions. I once had a customer demand to speak to my manager because they were convinced I was unable to do math and give them their proper change. I’ve also had a customer throw a large popcorn at me because I had put, “too much butter on it!”
  5. The most awkward first dates occur at the movies. A lot of high school students decide to go out to a movie for their first date because mom and dad will drop them off then leave. They forget that there is literally no time to talk during this date and thus their first hours together as a potential couple are spent in stony silence. Similarly, i’ve caught two teenagers fucking inside the theater for The Crazies. Sort of poetic, really.
  6. People bring infants and impressionable children to movies such as the remake of Friday The 13th. I’ve sat next to a sobbing child during said movie and their parent did not have a single fuck that their child was seeing a topless woman get chopped in half with a machete.
  7. Did you know, on average, movie theaters only make a dollar per ticket sold? The rest of the $14 dollars (depending on where you live) usually goes directly back to the movie distributing company. That is why your concessions are expensive as fuck, that is how they keep their doors open. It is not the movie theater worker’s fault the prices are so expensive, so please forgive us.
  8. Fangirls are perhaps the most interest breed of human-beings. I chose the word, ‘interesting,’ because it is perhaps the most PC of the words that came to mind. If I have to sit next to a pen of tranquil wolves from a wolf sanctuary so the ambience is set for the New Moon midnight, you best believe I find you, ‘interesting.’
  9. People go to the movies when they’re lonely, when they’re on a business trip without their families, when they’ve just been dumped, or when none of their friends agreed to see the new Rachel McAdams movies with them because they’re not “into chick-flicks.” The first few times, I felt bad for these people who seemed so on their own…but only until I realized just how often my friends talk during movies did I discovered the true bliss that is sitting alone in a theater and shoving your face full of deliciously buttered carbs as you gawk at Ryan Gosling’s face.
  10. In the dark where they think no one can see them, movie patrons come in like a wrecking ball. Seriously, the amount of things I have found on the floor of a movie theater after a screening are atrocious. I’ve found: used condoms, bottles of whiskey, gummy bears just everywhere, and lots of huge chunks of human hair.
  11. Movie theaters are a place where people go to disappear. They’re a place that (mostly) transcends social structures and classist systems and allows people a few hours to escape their everyday lives and put themselves into something fantastically fictional. For a few hours, no matter what your situation, you can be the action star, or the beauty queen, or part of a group of friends who has misadventures with a pair of traveling pants. For a few hours you can forget all your problems and what ails you. Let me tell you, it is beautiful to watch people disappear.