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Why I hate people who go to see movies.
by Matthew Bartley

Quiz any visitor to the movies, frequent or casual, and you're likely to get a wide range of views and tastes. This accounts from the success of cinematic turds like 'Bringing Down The House' to the overlooked gems like 'Intacto' which would seem as popular as a Michael Moore party at the White House. There are a variety of answers as to why the films we routinely roast here find an audience and the gems we cherish and celebrate simply don't. A lot of it is down to advertising by the studios, questions of whether cinema chains will show small, independent films and simple financial restrictions. And there's another small but undeniably important factor in this sad state of affairs: the majority of people who go to cinemas these days seem to be morons.

I'm not saying this from the point of view of a frustated critic annoyed at the herd-like mentality of people who will undoubtedly troop to see 'Dumb and Dumberer', simply because they liked the first one, without even considering the fact it has no-one of any relevance from the first involved. Actually, yes I am a frustrated critic but this perception comes from something else. I work at my local cinema (part of a multi-national chain) back home in Sunderland, England. And the behaviour of supposedly intelligent people (both customers and managers) is a spirit-crushing thing indeed.

What follows is, in no particular order, the ten most annoying things about working in the cinema. This is the view from the guy who sells you the ticket. The guy, who has to take a lot of shit from people during the day over things that not only are not my fault, but quite often YOUR fault. This article is written with two intentions: to hopefully make you laugh. And to make you change your cinema-going ways if you realise any of these aspects as being part of your behaviour.

1) Movies are probably the most popular form of entertainment today. Some movies are very popular. So popular that they sell out, or at the very most leave single seats only. So why are people constantly surprised by this? If you came to see 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' for example you'd have good grounds to be surprised that it was sold out. But to turn up 2 minutes before the start of 'The Matrix Reloaded' on a Saturday night and THEN be surprised it's sold out?
C'mon people, use your brains. Didn't anything tell you it might be just a little bit in demand? Now there's nothing wrong in turning up in the hope of tickets only to be dissapointed. But please, if you turn up only to be told there are single seats only, try to understand what we are telling you. We aren't lying. This is a typical Friday night conversation at the Box Office (albeit with what I'd really like to say. Unfortunately sarcasm doesn't go down well with customers):

Customer: I'd like 4 tickets for The Matrix that's just started now please.

Me: I'm sorry but we've only got single seats left.

Customer: Well can I have 4 together please?

(long pause while I try and see the clockwork turning behind the customers eyes)

Me: No, we have single seats only. That means they're not together. If they were, they wouldn't be single. S-I-N-G-L-E. They're attatched to the floor as well, we can't move them.

Customer: What, no seats together? Not even at the front?

Me: Oh, silly me. Yes we have approximately 50 seats at the front still empty. I just didn't tell you because I didn't think you'd be interested.

Customer: Well I think that's disgraceful!

Me: I totally agree. It is absolutely disgraceful that a lot of other people want to see this very popular movie too and actually had the nerve to turn up before you. Henceforth no other tickets for anything ever again shall be sold until you arrive during the trailers for your tickets first.

2) My job at the cinema is an usher. So when a film is sold out, or very busy, it's my job to issue the directions so everyone ends up in the right seats. The layout of a screen is very simple. The rows go from A the first row to J which is the back. Therefore B would be the second row, and C the third etc. The seat numbers are also numerical 1,2,3,4,5, and so on,. So a typical direction would be "You're three rows up the stairs, seats 15 and 16"
Now I'm guessing by the fact that our car-park is regularly filled that a great deal of people drive to the cinema, which obviously involves co-ordination and navigation. So why do these people have an inability to follow simple directions? Cases in point:

Me: You're in the back row seats 5 to 8.

Customer: Where's that?

Me: The back row? Well, it's at the back surprisingly

Customer: The very back?

Me: No actually, the near back.

And these are the people who actually bother to stop and listen. The majority of times I'm greeted by a vacant-eyed, popcorn guzzling zombie who just stares at me as I tell them where they're sitting, before shambling off. Then they'll stop halfway, turn back and ask me where they're sitting. You remember when my mouth was moving and sounds came out. They were directions and were for your benefit.

In some screens we have two rows of stairs because it's the main screen. I know that's confusing, but when I say the 'near stairs' I mean the ones NEAR to you, and when I say the 'far stairs' I mean the ones FAR from you. So if I say "two rows up the far stairs", don't turn and say "what, these stairs I'm next to?". If that's your definition of far, I certainly don't want to be in a car with you, if you have to stop suddenly.

3) When I watch a movie at home, I don't get a sudden urge to buy litres of lemonade, a vat of popcorn and the whole side of a cow to satisfy my hunger. Particularly at the prices cinema's charge. The prices are vastly inflated, so why do people refuse to think and actually eat BEFORE they come to the movie? Do they sit and starve themselves purposefully because they're coming to see a movie?

Susan: Hey, 'Identity' is playing tomorrow night, do you want to go and check it out?

Tom: Sure, let me just have the last meal I'm going to have for the next 24 hours. I wanna buy a hotdog for the price of a 10" pizza!

Do people actually LIKE the food we sell? Believe me I see the hotdogs before they're cooked - you don't want to know. Popcorn? I wish I'd known there was going to be such a huge market for warm cardboard doused with butter and salt. If you like popcorn and hotdogs, fine. But why stuff yourself at the cinema? Don't you have fridges at home?

4) Admittedly I probably wouldn't mind the consumption of all this food so much, if I don't have to clear up the mess afterwards. Which is my next point. Why, when people buy popcorn, do they apparently develop a sever case of the shakes?

"Woah, this popcorn is small and light I don't know how I'm going to keep control of it!"

Having to wade through fields of popcorn in screens after performances makes me wonder, do people liberally spray popcorn onto the floor in a belief that a popcorn tree will grow? That might explain the pools of soda that also drench the floor. Surely people are more careful with their food at home? Maybe they do lose all control of their limbs once they buy cinema food. Or maybe they're just clumsy dickheads who don't think of the poor jerk, having to clean up their shit after them.

These are probably the same people who buy a mega-giant-family value-big arse soda, because they don't think of buying a small drink instead, and then leave two-thirds of it to be thrown in the bin. Why not buy a small drink? You probably won't die of thirst halfway through 'X-Men 2'

5) If you go to see something particularly busy, and you get sold seats near the front, it's for a reason. It's not because we don't like you or are being vindictive, it's because it's a very popular film and all the seats at the back are gone.

I don't mind people coming up and asking if there are any seats further back, it's fair enough to enquire. But like I say, if there were any...we'd have sold them to you.
But if you are coming to complain, please don't use the old excuse of "Oh my partner's got bad eyes/bad neck/a shattered spine/syphilis and can't sit near the front"

It's all been heard before and it's not going to change a thing. It's a true phenemenon that the people who get seats at the front are always the ones with neck/back complaints. Funny that isn't it?

Even worse are the people that exclaim "I won't see a thing at the front!". No, you will actually. You'll see quite a bit. It'll just be very close that's all.

6) A true story. I was on shift when around 20 people come rushing out of a screen, demanding a refund. What's the problem?, enquired the manager. The film is subtitled and no-one told us was the angry response from all the customers. The film?

'City of God'

So instead of treating themselves to the finest film this year, this bunch of idiots demanded their money back, because they couldn't be bothered reading. What makes this more disturbing was the fact that none of them had any idea the film was subtitled in the first place. So they'd turned up, saw the title, possibly the poster which featured guns, and decided to see it on the strength of that. The title. People go to see it on the strength of a title. Anyone with a genuine interest in seeing it would have known it was subtitled. So instead of trying something different, they rejected it and opted for 'Mr. Deeds' instead. They deserve all they get.

7) Brian, our projectionist. He's moody, miserable and a general pain. At our annual staff meeting the subject of our untidy and small staff-room was brought up. When Brian was asked if he would mind staff using the projectionist's staff-room he snapped back, "No! I've never eaten in a dirty box and I never will!". That's the only time anyone has ever laughed at Brian.

8) Everyone knows managers are annoying. They're on your back, constantly moaning and snooping around. But what makes the cinema managers worse is not one of them has the faintest interest in film. When I enquired as to whether we'd be getting the Spanish thriller, 'Intacto', the sneering reply was "Who'd want to come and see a Spanish film with sub-titles?". Obviously not the people who went to see 'City of God'. We got 'Kangaroo Jack' that week instead.

Another manager was also talking about 'Godzilla' and the criticism dished out to it:

"I can't understand why people didn't like it. What, wasn't the monster ugly enough?". That was his argument. Don't you feel good about the chances of your local cinema showing quality movies all year round now?

9) There's a particularly annoying breed of people who walk in during the end credits when we're cleaning the screen ready for the next performance. They generally stare blankly at you, having obviously walked blankly past the cleaning sign outside, blink once or twice before asking the question we're sick of hearing:

Customer: Can we come in yet?

Me: Yes of course. Never mind the fact the film hasn't actually finished. And you see all the rubbish and remnants of people's food? I'm sure you won't mind sitting in the middle of that.

It was particularly funny when they did this during the credits for 'The Matrix Reloaded' and saw the trailer for 'Revolutions' at the end thereby spoiling the fact that no-one of significance dies in 'Reloaded'. Schmucks

10) Finally people, if someone is sitting in your seats TELL US. Don't just sit somewhere else because you thought 'it would be ok'. Do you think there's a chance that someone else might have that seat instead of you? Don't set off a chain reaction of people having to sit in the wrong seats. I guarantee that someone will complain right in the middle of the last trailer, thereby meaning we'll have to move everybody around when the film is starting. And we don't want to do that. It annoys other customers and it annoys me. Of course none of this would have happened if people would FOLLOW OUR DIRECTIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Hopefully this article will have made you chuckle. It may even have educated you. It may have come across as just a pointless rant. But if this article has peeved you, then I may just have struck a raw nerve and pointed out some things you have done, or still do.

So please, read the ten points again, and next time...don't let it be you.

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originally posted: 06/17/03 01:12:50
last updated: 01/03/04 13:39:13
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