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


    Your Comments

    • GNewsom

      They don’t tell you about possible Bed Bugs in the seats!!

    • fuzzy doggie

      the reason their popcorm tastes and smells so good is because of the oil. it’s coconut oil. it’s the most heathy oil used in cooking but,,,,,many yrs ago scientists said it was harmful haha. today we know now it’s actually healthier. now you know!

    • AJ

      I used to work at a movie theater. My biggest pet peeve was when customers yelled at a us for the high concession prices and said they were going to complain to corporate to get them to lower it, all the while still shelling out the money to pay for their snacks. Man that will really show corporate that prices need to be lowered. As for popcorn, had a customer yell at me once saying “I heard you don’t pop your corn fresh anymore” I was standing in front of the popcorn popper while popcorn was spewing out of the machine and an employee was filling another customer’s bag. Idiot. Theaters, like others have said, don’t make much off of ticket sales. Avatar and Titanic were two of the last movies theaters actually made money off of ticket sales. I was in high school, and the movie theater I worked at then had Titanic from opening day (December 1997) till Memorial Day 1998. On the weekends we were still selling it out in one of our biggest auditoriums (I believe it held 375 people) We wanted to keep it longer but because we were a small 6 screen theater we couldn’t because we had to make room for the summer movies. So by the end of it’s run we were making about 90 percent profit off of ticket sales for that movie. Avatar, we had it at the theater I worked at up till April, from opening day till early April in our IMAX and it was still selling out on weekends. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was also a movie that made theaters money. But now that I don’t work in the “business” anymore and have to pay for my movies I understand some of the grief I was given but not the rudeness. I found a non chain movie theater near my house that’s been in business for 20 years. Their top ticket price is 8.50 at night, whereas the theater I worked for it was 10.25 for regular/ 13.25 for 3D/ 15.75 IMAX. This theater’s snack prices are lower too. They must be doing really well if they have been open 20 years and 10 years ago the added 3 more screens onto their building making it a 9 screen theater instead of a 6 screen theater. They are all digital and didn’t raise their prices when they went all digital unlike the major chains.

    • TBrown

      They also didn’t say how many of the workers eat directly out of the popcorn warmer. The ushers would walk in the back to get a drink and just reach in and grab a handful of popcorn…this of course was after they cleaned the theaters, lobbies and bathrooms. It’s disgusting, after working there I was never able to eat popcorn again!

    • Scotty Wells

      Who cares! I LOVE going to the Movies. :-)


      I was lucky to be an Usher / Janitor in a theater in NJ in the 50′s, got to watch all the great movies plus make 1.00 per hour, only problem was I had to see them for the entire week. LOL :)

    • RockerSeven

      this was a slide show of ads with some movie theatre factoids in between.

    • nearoffutt

      A 3-D movie with the unlimited refills package deal of two large drinks (we get unsweetened tea) and an upgrade to large tub popcorn costs $40. My wife and I are both working full time. We are NOT working to support the local theater! A few times a year is enough, and only for 3-D. Amazon Prime is now $95 a year. With our good big screen TV hooked to the stereo, we watch enough movies at home, zero to two a week. Oh, at home microwave popcorn is three bowls for $1. Sun tea is 8 cents a quart.