What Opening Weekend is like for a Movie Theater Employee

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Caption: We’ve all gone to see a movie in its first week and notice just how busy the theater is. Not many people know what opening weekends are like for the employees. (Photo from google creative commons).

With the release of the Super Mario Bros movie this past weekend, anyone who went to see it would have noticed that the theaters were packed. We all know the feeling: Waiting in line for twenty minutes, waiting for people to make up their minds or scan in their Regal Crown Club points. 

This is obviously very frustrating to any customer, but I’ll admit that before I worked at the movies, I didn’t think about how the people behind the counter felt. I even assumed that they were being lazy.

Though I respect and appreciate my managers and the help they have given us, if there is any fault in speed of the lines or stocking, it can typically be placed on the manager. This is true at any job but especially the movies. 

Over the weekend of Super Mario, we ran out of large popcorn buckets three times, having to then offer free refills to medium bags of popcorn, which was not communicated to floor staff. On top of this, we were so busy that non certified individuals had to serve alcoholic beverages to customers. 

Employees were unable to restock candy racks when they ran low, as lines were out the door: so we had to race over to the stockroom (where usually only managers are allowed), just to get that specific candy. It slowed everyone down and people were very upset. Even in concessions, with everyone at a register, a manager behind the counter with us and the District Manager running popcorn for us, it really felt like it wasn’t enough. 

When customers wanted to switch seats, we had to send them to the back of the line as this task must be done in concessions and depending on the type of swap, needs manager approval. These people would get angry and either stand near your register until you relented or simply take random seats. When they took the random seats, we would accidentally sell them because we would not have them on file.

I personally had to tell dozens of people to get out of other customers’ reserved seats and go switch them. 

Due to how crowded the theater is lately and the recent mass shootings, we have been checking large bags at the door, and I cannot tell you how many times people have gotten upset. This is because we don’t have signs advertising the new policy, despite requests for them. Usually the people who protest the most don’t even have anything that must be confiscated, which is bizarre. 

Many customers have violated policies that can easily be caught on a slow day but not on a busy one. Things like taking their kids into an R-Rated movie, theater hopping, cutting in line, (that one ended in a lot of profanity)! and even a temper tantrum that an older woman threw over a program pamphlet for the opera. 

Any other day, these sorts of violations would NOT fly and would in fact result in being kicked out of the theater or being forced to swap movies. However, on such a busy day there was zero way to keep track. 

In regards to scheduling, only one or two ushers were scheduled each day, which is not enough to schedule on a weekend where fourteen massive auditoriums are being trashed (mostly by little kids). Keep in mind — we only get ten minutes max to finish each one most times. The result: auditoriums did not look their best due to overscheduling movies and under scheduling employees. 

I do not write this for pity or to expose the inner workings of the movie theater where I work, but I think that a combination of slightly altering policy and a little more patience would go a very long way. 

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