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

    • B.E. Miller

      Trusting the hot dogs depends on the health codes for the city of the theater. In Mesquite TX the hot dogs must be discarded at end of day. In Dallas, the theaters are allowed to stick them in the fridge for the next day.

    • Dante Hicks

      We don’t go to the movies anymore. Hollywood sucks. I share my DVD collection with the Kids. They love it. Star Wars, Jaws, Poltergeist, ET….stuff like that.

      • kenzo77

        This happened to be a GREAT year for American movies (not to mention films from abroad); you just have to be selective…and it helps to live in New York like I do where you can see great independents, revivals and foreign films in addition to big or small Hollywood releases. Too many lazy consumers dismiss everything with the blanket generalization “Hollywood sucks.” Among my favorites this year have been “her”, “Gravity”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Twelve Years a Slave”, “American Hustle”, “Wolf of Wall St.” and several others. They might not have made critics best lists, but “Elysium” and “World War Z” were a lot of fun up on the big screen with big sound.

        • kneesus

          World War Z had absolutely nothing to do with the book. They should have called it generic zombie movie with Brad Pitt.

    • AnonyMouse

      The concession prices are ridiculous….Why? Absolutely no reason why a tiny cup with ice and a little cola would cost $4. I bring in my own food and watch several other movies to get my money’s worth.

    • Michael Collins

      Recycling the stories again….this was here 6 months ago.

    • RareE

      Goodness…where do you guys live where you have to pay $14 just to see a movie??? That’s crazy. Our theater prices aren’t even close to that. Even with the 3D glasses you have to pay for when you want to watch one of the flicks in 3D. 2 tickets…(1 adult 1 kid) with 3D glasses and after 6pm….$23.00. That’s it and that’s an AMC theater. Our Cinemark theater and Alamo Drafthouse is even cheaper than that.

      • DayiaKnyte

        Denver is one.
        $11.00 to see a standard movie.
        $14.00 to see a 3D.

        That is average.
        Just checked where one theater charged $15.00 for a 3D movie.

        And this doesn’t count the $1.50 convenience charge if you buy tickets online.

    • Josh Oswald

      No they don’t. There are no aroma chemicals.

    • Jim

      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

      Seems a bad business model. Why not push back??

    • Oldhairold

      How old is this article? I think I spot it every few months.

    • Greg Dahlen

      one nice thing is movies that I’ve seen in the last two or three years are always in excellent focus, it must be new technology? I remember when it was hit-or-miss how good of focus they would be in.

    • Bill Kemp

      I think everyone already knew some of these, especially the fact that studios get most of the money from tickets and theaters make their concessions overpriced because that’s where most of the income is.