13 Things a Movie Theater Employee Won’t Tell You

Find out behind the scenes info about your favorite place to see the next blockbuster.

By Ilana Strauss
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    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.

    Sources: Movie theater employees in California, Illinois, and Indiana

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    Your Comments

    • Niki

      I only buy a popcorn or drink and that is rare. I usually sneak in my own candy and popcorn. Also I love sneaking in taco bell food. I usually only buy food and the cinema cafe ones.

    • Rauh

      Too many bad movies out these days, and concession way over priced for stale popcorn and syrupy soda drinks. Better to rent from Redbox.

    • Russ

      I worked at a movie theater in high school for a couple of years in the ‘early 90′s. I can confirm that almost no money is made off the ticket sales. The line we were supposed to give about not letting outside food in was that insurance would not cover any incident resulting from it. This was bs of course. The theater I worked for had a main location showing first run movies and a second one showing second run movies for a couple bucks. The first run movie theater always had fresh popped popcorn and the butter was actual unadulterated melted sticks that you buy in the store. The customers refused to believe that it wasn’t fake. The second run location had a popcorn machine that didn’t work. We would pop the popcorn at the first location and I would shuttle it across town to fill the bin at the second location as if it was just popped. There would always be customers who would complain that it was too cold or too hot in the theater. We would make a show of walking down the aisle and pretending to adjust the thermostat. It usually satisfied them (placebo effect). There was no way to please both camps so we would keep the temperature at a steady 70 degrees. Many customers who arrived late would come out and request that we rewind the movie! Talk about being inconsiderate of others in theater and the theaters schedule. We couldn’t rewind it anyway since it was a strip of film on a platter not a vcr. The nice perk of working there was that I got to see free movies with free popcorn and drinks. The benefit extended to girls I dated as well. It seems like nothing, but it’s a nice perk for a high school kid on limited funds.

      • Walt Mitchell

        Russ, I found your post here to be very amusing, not to mention that it was also educational! Thank you for writing! :-D!