Snack Check
February 12, 2016 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Last year Regal Cinema started checking bags and backpacks in their theaters.

Surprisingly little coverage beyond the initial press release.

From the LA Times, customers respond.

A short critical response from Fast Company

Some Regal employees and customers share their experience with the policy in this Reddit thread.
posted by kittensofthenight (195 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't remember what lousy theater chain I went to when I was in Blacksburg, VA but I remember having to throw a tantrum be very emphatic about entering with my bookbag at all; they had some policy about it but they also had no bag check and I went by bike so I had no place to put it. Anyway, I (uncharacteristically) argued my way in, but I think they were only really worried about smuggling illicit food in. This has been an anecdote from the time before The Terrorists Won and long before We Have Met The Terrorists And They Is Us. The actual link here is pretty worthless, so I can't see this thread being anything other than everyone airing their own feelings.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:21 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


It is our duty to bring as much covert food and alcohol as possible into movie theatres. An entire picnic if possible, complete with a bottle of wine and appropriate wine glasses.

It is our duty to smuggle. It is our duty to win.

Likewise it is our duty to bring flasks with us into bars, to use to continually top up the one drink apiece that we buy.

Life exists in the gaps that the market can't regulate. And we should — no, we must! — live life to the fullest.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:21 PM on February 12, 2016 [134 favorites]


Two key points from the comments:
  • We need TSA-style security at movie theatres to protect us, and
  • TSA-style security is intolerable and spells the end of going to movies.
    Some scintillating six-month old discussion there.

  • posted by Wolfdog at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    It's really hard to use a corkscrew quietly. You have to wait for a loud bit.
    posted by howfar at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [17 favorites]


    I mean in most cases, even companies with policies against bags only get properly obnoxious about the if the bags are carried by teenagers. Concert festivals are particularly obnoxious on this front. But on those rare occasions that we've seen bag searching going on while waiting in line, we've typically succeeded by either:

    1) throwing our picnic bag over the fence just out of sight of the security guards, and retrieving it once we're inside,
    or,
    2) Just concealing everything under our clothes. I can, I've discovered, carry two flasks of vodka, an can of mixer, and several small bags of potato chips in my socks, and once I brought in an entire baguette in the leg of my jeans.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:26 PM on February 12, 2016 [82 favorites]


    "We need TSA-style security at movie theatres to protect us"

    Regal is implying that mass shooters are basically terrorists then. So why are we not doing everything we can to regulate guns?
    posted by FJT at 4:27 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Because if we regulated guns we wouldn't have an excuse to search bags for regularly-priced beverages.
    posted by ckape at 4:29 PM on February 12, 2016 [34 favorites]


    and once I brought in an entire baguette in the leg of my jeans.

    Thank you for writing this sentence.
    posted by Dark Messiah at 4:32 PM on February 12, 2016 [107 favorites]


    "We need TSA-style security at movie theatres to protect us"

    Well, they just lost my business. I have to fly. I don't have to watch movies at their theaters.
    posted by Blackanvil at 4:32 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Thing is I won't pay movie prices for food. Period. I also won't go see a movie without snacks. So I am a smuggler. I don't mind paying a fair price for something, but when a soda and a sandbar cost more than the movie then eff that.

    Also, no way am I consenting to a search, so they get to decide if they want my money. If the answer is no I am fine with that.
    posted by cjorgensen at 4:34 PM on February 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


    When I was in high school I went to the movies.I had a crappy Aiwa Boom Box with me. The said, "You can't bring that into the theater, you'll have to leave it with us". I consented, at the end of the movie they didn't want to return it saying, "how do we know it's yours?" They eventually gave it back. The next time I went to a movie there they asked for it again. This time I said that I wanted a receipt. They said they couldn't so I said I wanted my money back. They didn't want to that either. They let me take it in.

    It's all a ploy to treat teenagers like crap.
    posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:37 PM on February 12, 2016 [31 favorites]


    I solved the movie food price dilemma by the radical technique of eating somewhere else first, then going to see a movie with a nice full belly. I recommend that.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:38 PM on February 12, 2016 [53 favorites]


    throwing our picnic bag over the fence just out of sight of the security guards, and retrieving it once we're inside,

    Before Disneyland allowed food in their park, I knew someone who's family would do that during her childhood. But, Disneyland's security is a hair better than a typical concert, so they eventually got caught.
    posted by FJT at 4:39 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    One time in college I (uncharacteristically) snuck a bag of Reese's Pieces into a theatre. It was the 90s, so I was wearing acid-washed jeans with holes in the knees. I tucked the bag of candy into my waistband and covered it with my shirt.

    I was terrified of getting caught and this was probably my highest act of rebellion ever. We got into the theatre after the previews had already started, and it was opening night of some Michelle Pfeiffer movie, so the audience was packed and we had to climb over people to get to the remaining open seats in the center of the theatre.

    It was then, of course, that the bag of Reese's Pieces busted open and Pieces of candy started raining down into my pantlegs, then flowing out through the holes in the knees, and then clattering noisily downhill to the front of the theatre. Everyone turned around to look, and I was one embarrassed human piñata.

    Never did it again. They could check my bags today and I'd be golden.
    posted by mudpuppie at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2016 [55 favorites]


    "One day I was kicked out of a movie theater for bringing my own food, so I said: C'mon, the prices for the food here are outragous... and besides, I haven't had a barbeque in a long time." - Steven Wright
    posted by porn in the woods at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2016 [21 favorites]


    I go to see movies in theatres a lot. Like 80ish times last year. And I'll say without a doubt, Regal is one of the worse chains out there, especially customer service wise. Luckliy I rarely have to go to any of their theatres anymore.

    As for bag checks in general, I hate them. I've stopped going to places based on certain policies in the past and I sure hope more theatres don't start doing this. And I don't even bring in snacks. Maybe my water bottle at most. But sometimes I carry food in my bag for later (sometimes I'm out for 14-16 hour days), and if someone "needs" to take that away, well forget it.
    posted by dogwalker at 4:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    and once I brought in an entire baguette in the leg of my jeans.

    Is that a baguette in your jeans or are you just glad to see me?
    posted by kinnakeet at 4:49 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    My stepmother is a huge movie buff and also a fad dieter - there was apparently a period in the 70's where she attempted a watermelon-based fad diet and had to smuggle watermelon into movie theatres. The diet did not work.
    posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 4:49 PM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


    But on those rare occasions that we've seen bag searching going on while waiting in line, we've typically succeeded by

    Intentionally spraying the security guard in the face with cola.

    They were asking people to open soda bottles before entering the stadium, so they could smell for alcohol. So I brought one clean bottle, and made sure it was properly shaken while in line, then cracked it open such that it nailed the security guard. I apologized profusely, and he didn't bother checking the rest, which were about 50% whiskey.
    posted by ryanrs at 4:51 PM on February 12, 2016 [128 favorites]


    It's really hard to use a corkscrew quietly

    Not really. Even the T-shaped style are easy: screw it in halfway or so, grab the bottle neck/exposed screw with both hands, right on top. Tighten your grip, bringing your elbows together, and the cork will slowly come out with minimal sound and no fanfare.

    Also, can't we just single out the white men? I don't think anyone else has shot up a theater yet.
    posted by a halcyon day at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


    I've been a few screenings at the AMPAS theater in Beverly Hills, and by far my favorite part of the whole ordeal is being in a 700-seat theater with hundreds of other people who are there to watch the film. They are not there to eat snacks, snacks are not allowed; they are not there because their parents dragged them along, small children are not admitted; they are not there to snapchat their friends' story streams, as using your cell phone during the show is a quick way to get your membership revoked: The audience is there to watch the film (and maybe see the panel discussion after).
    posted by carsonb at 5:11 PM on February 12, 2016 [25 favorites]


    Oh something I've learned is that if liquids are allowed but booze not, bring bottles of kombucha spiked with vodka. it hides the smell perfectly.

    I've been trying to popularize the phrase "Berkeley flask" to refer to spiked kombucha bottles, but with little success.

    really half the fun of going to events (especially concerts) is figuring out how to evade the event organizers's schemes to trap you into buying their food and drink. There's this little burst of utopian joy that comes from sitting on a lawn with your illicit baguette and illicit cheese plate and illicit wine and an illicit joint or two, listening to your favorite band play live right out in the open air, not worried about money, not starving yourself or paying 10 dollars for bad beer, experiencing life exactly the way it's supposed to be.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:11 PM on February 12, 2016 [68 favorites]


    I once smuggled an order of pesto tortellini in a to go container into a movie. When I opened the box, a cloud of garlic smell surrounded me and I ruined a perfectly good shirt by spilling oil on it.
    posted by bendy at 5:12 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    One of the only times I've ever become angry with a customer service person in my life was when they wanted to take my hoagie away. I'd been away from home for some time, that day specifically I'd been on the road for about six hours with nothing to eat. I wasn't late for the movie, but I was running just enough behind schedule that properly eating beforehand was not going to happen, so I grabbed a hoagie on the way over - I was a kind of starving that movie food was not going to deal with for less than $20.

    It wasn't like a damn footlong or anything, it was just a little mini one, not smelly, and I was planning to eat it during the previews. I wasn't going to inconvenience anybody, I just needed some calories in my face hole. When they searched my bag (which they were doing in that part of that city as early as 2007) they found it and tried to take it!

    I literally went into the parking lot and sat in the car and ate my damn sandwich in the cold, because hell if anyone takes a hoagie from me.

    sometimes I carry food in my bag for later
    Also this. I often have stuff in there I have no intention of eating short of an emergency, but I will not be wasting money handing it over at a theater.

    Considering how inexpensive big pretty TVs have gotten, I don't know why anyone bothers anymore.
    posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 5:15 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    When the revolution comes, you'll be able to recognize me as the guy smuggling a really nice picnic right into the thick of it.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:17 PM on February 12, 2016 [56 favorites]


    > Considering how inexpensive big pretty TVs have gotten, I don't know why anyone bothers anymore.
    posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 5:15 PM on February 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


    Until such time as folding screen technology has been perfected, I'm going to say it's not worth the trouble to smuggle in a big pretty TV — though, definite respect to anyone who can pull it off!
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:31 PM on February 12, 2016 [48 favorites]


    This conversation makes me miss my trenchcoat that had an inside pocket big enough for the Sunday New York Times.
    posted by parliboy at 5:32 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    My understanding is that the snack bar is where the actual money in running a cinema comes from, like gas stations. Is that wrong?
    posted by Pope Guilty at 5:36 PM on February 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


    I believe the Pope is correct; same as alcohol is where restaurants make their money.

    How about they introduce a variant of the corkage fee, as insurance against the guy who invariably is going to spill his oily pesto onto the velour seats?
    posted by IndigoJones at 5:39 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    It is our duty to smuggle.

    I read that as "snuggle" and, well.

    Carry on.
    posted by Foosnark at 5:40 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    A wise woman once suggested stopping at Skyburger on the way to the cinema.
    posted by davebush at 5:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    When I was a teen, I managed to smuggle an entire medium cheese pizza into a movie theater. Hunched over wearing a backpack. Damn, I miss the '80s.
    posted by queensissy at 5:43 PM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


    When I was a student, I used to spend a saturday going to the big multiplex theater and hopping from one theater to the next -- three or four shows -- on one matinee ticket. With a backpack full of mcdonalds cheeseburgers.

    Good times.
    posted by rifflesby at 5:45 PM on February 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


    No one will ever have to worry about me bringing a bag into a movie theater. Movie theaters are full of The Public, and there's streaming video in my house now, so I have no intention of setting foot in a movie theater ever again. How's THAT for a New Business Model?
    posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:54 PM on February 12, 2016 [17 favorites]


    When we were kids my litte brother had those horrible jnco jeans that were all the fashion then, and oh man how many cans of Coke and snacks we could fit under those things
    posted by celtalitha at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    There is an independent movie theater near me in brooklyn (cobble hill cinemas) that is militant to the point of comedy about not allowing outside food. I once had to "check" my dinner leftovers at the concession stand and on another occasion the couple sitting next to us had to take turns tag-teaming their burritos on the sidewalk out front.

    The only time I've ever experienced anything remotely like it was when I tried taking a digital camera into a movie theater in India (we were out tourist ing for the day, I ended up having to let the theater manager hold on to my battery until the move ended.)
    posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:01 PM on February 12, 2016


    I read some time ago that all the profit that theaters make is from concession sales - that is to say that the price of admission leaves them at break even. If this is true (certainly seems likely) I can understand their concern about people smuggling food in. I guess from their point of view there are many bad things that could be smuggled in and nothing of any benefit. They no longer receive my carriage in any case.Movie theaters seem as outdated as video arcades.
    posted by jcworth at 6:04 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I know I used to bring my dinner in to eat via my backpack. I dont know why but the smell of burgers and fries bothered people around me but I was very generous with my neighbors by offering them cut rate prices on the candy/snacks that I bought at the wal-mart and stashed in my backpack.
    posted by robbyrobs at 6:04 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    corkage fees. I'd bribe an usher to look the other way, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable actually paying a corkage fee.

    A long time ago (before we were married) my partner and I got a groupon type deal to a middling-fancy restaurant in Seattle down by Madison Park; the (obvious) trick with the groupon was that beverages weren't included in the otherwise great deal. We had gotten all dressed up and brought with us a bottle of supermarket champagne to go with the meal, but when we found out how expensive the corkage fees were we:

    1) Ate our delicious high-end french food with water, then
    2) tipped well, then
    3) had a wonderful time in the park across the street, drinking our brown-paper-bag-wrapped bottle of champagne while swinging on the swings and spinning on the merry-go-round.

    I will always, always, place my cheap fun over your business model, and you should too. Given a choice between a world with nice restaurants and expensive movie theaters versus a world with late-night champagne drinking on swingsets and merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms, well, I won't shed too many tears over all the lost restaurants and theaters.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:09 PM on February 12, 2016 [42 favorites]


    Pesto pasta at a movie theater?

    Ok I'm firmly convinced that at least half of the anecdotes in this thread thus far are people trying to pull off a 4chan "spill my spaghetti" story.
    posted by vuron at 6:09 PM on February 12, 2016


    Burritos are my smuggling favorite because they can be swaddled up so nicely in their little wraps, and you can tuck them up your sleeve or into your coat or shirt and they are like lovely little warming packs of deliciousness. Plus, they can be eaten in almost perfect silence, which apart from the onion breath makes them a considerate choice.
    posted by notquitemaryann at 6:16 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I get extremely and irrationally irate when people try to check my bag. I've learned not to bring a bag to sporting events, and to suffer through it at the airport, but anywhere else it's likely to result in an angry shouting match, while my stunned friends look on, embarrassed. (I'm usually quite mild-mannered "surly" moniker notwithstanding.)

    Also, as a matter of policy I don't read bullshit signs, either. My view is that they shouldn't have sold me a ticket and let me in, if they had a problem with the bag I wasn't secretly carrying. When they instituted this policy at Regal, I got in one loud argument, manager came over, I eventually let them search my bag because my friend was looking so very mortified, then I never went back. Of course, if I were smuggling food into the theater, I doubt I would have made a scene.

    I'm not sure why I react this way... Could be that I usually bike places, so I can't just get rid of the bag, and the whole thing makes me go all "bicycle rights" on people.
    posted by surlyben at 6:17 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I don't even mind the high prices for the drinks and food; what I mind as a diabetic is the lack of healthy food options at most cinemas, which is why I have to resort to smuggling if I want to snack (I'm not a popcorn fan). I will gladly overpay for something that is not loaded with HFCS if it is even offered.
    posted by KingEdRa at 6:18 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    As a life-long pedestrian, my backpack is filled with everything I need for the entire day, so a bag search is going to take a while. If they can find a smuggled chocolate bar amidst my laptop, laptop stand, mouse, assorted crumpled papers, a forgotten poppy pin from November, an Ereader, a lock, some pens and another bag with my gym clothes inside, then they're welcome to keep it. Security through obscurity!
    posted by Kevin Street at 6:18 PM on February 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I smuggle food because movie theater food is garbage. Expensive garbage, but most importantly: garbage. I'll generally buy my beverage there though, I know that's how they make their money. But I am never, ever, ever going to be buying shitty movie theater nachos. They aren't losing my money through me smuggling because that is money they well never get.

    There's an amazing sub place right next door to one of the theaters near me. It's truly a singular pleasure to go to a weekday matinee in an empty theater and enjoy a hot sub and fries. And a coke from the concession stand.
    posted by soren_lorensen at 6:19 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Cargo pants are great for this. I've ridden my bike to the theater, had some bored teenager paw through my knapsack looking for contraband snacks and whatnot while the people behind me get restless, then wave me through, while I've got several Snickers bars (it was one of the LotR movies) in one thigh pocket and a sports bottle full of red wine (it was a while ago) in the other. Good times.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 6:21 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    People eat why at the movies? Anyway yeah, I don't but if I did I'd not complain about the prices or the no food from outside. Do you know how much a ticket would cost if the owner didn't have concessions?
    posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:26 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    As a person who's employed by a non-profit historical cinema, boy this turned into the wrong thread for me to be in.
    posted by penduluum at 6:27 PM on February 12, 2016 [24 favorites]


    One of my friends was working box office at a sold-out opening weekend IMAX showing when they got a report of a gun in the theater. They called security as quietly as possible, in order to not cause a panic and set the guy off. Turns out the asshole had "forgotten" he had his piece on him and visible in the back of his pants. I hate that we're going in the direction of TSA-style security everywhere all the time, but until we get reasonable gun control in the US, I don't really blame them.

    (Also, you guys know how expensive the rentals are and if you're trying to avoid paying for anything but tickets at your local theater, you're fucking them over, right? Smuggling in food is like not tipping at a restaurant; the system as it exists might not be right but you're still being a jerk.)
    posted by thetortoise at 6:31 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Is this a US specific thing? At least with cinemas in Norway, you're free to bring whatever snacks you want (within reason, no alcohol or full meals) with you. It has even lead to several candy stores setting up shop near my cinema complex.
    posted by ymgve at 6:33 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    In college, in the mid 90s, I worked at a movie theater, and I couldn't have cared less that people were sneaking in snacks. Well, I didn't like cleaning up afterwards, but whatever. The most hilarious case of snack smuggling came during one of those cleanups after the movie was over. Someone had snuck in a bag of microwave popcorn. As in, they popped the corn at home, took the fully inflated popcorn bag and stuffed it inside a larger purse so they could enjoy popcorn for a few cents rather than the theater's overpriced (but far more delicious!) fare.
    posted by zardoz at 6:34 PM on February 12, 2016


    Do you know how much a ticket would cost if the owner didn't have concessions?

    But how many people still buy concessions? It may be most of their profit, but it's a small part of their revenue at this point.
    posted by Kevin Street at 6:36 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Zardoz, I have actually done this. I have a very large purse.

    I have also smuggled in wine.

    The theater is not losing any money from me, because when I don't smuggle in snacks I just don't eat anything. I am poor and I rarely can afford to go to the movies anyway.
    posted by celtalitha at 6:36 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    It's not a question of smuggle-vs.-buy. It's a question of smuggle-vs.-go without.

    I'm not buying movie theater snacks.

    There are more and more reasons to avoid movie theaters. I never have been comfortable with all of the people. The only reasons to go were to (a) see it on a big screen, with good sound systems, away from the demands of daily life, and (b) to see it while it is relatively fresh.

    Lately, I go to a movie at a theater about once every year and a half.

    Two of the last three times were negatively affected by pre-teen people doing age-appropriate group behaviors. I don't need to see that any more, or have it impact my entertainment.

    I don't need to be on the cutting edge of pop culture.

    There is no significant impact to my life at all if I stop going to movie theaters entirely.

    A couple of years ago, I was riding my bike as my exclusive mode of transit. A hardware store, that I was a regular customer of, wanted me to leave my trunk bag/pannier with them when I entered the store. I argued that there were several women in the store with purses larger than my trunk bag. They held fast. I left. I can buy screws somewhere else.

    Point is, movie theaters have no leverage. Every incremental inconvenience will necessarily decrease my patronage. I'm already at my limit.
    posted by yesster at 6:38 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I don't mind if movie theaters fail. sorry :(
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:38 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    lol, YCTAB, I'm always waiting for the MeFi thread where you argue how the true anarchosocialist filches from grandma's purse
    posted by thetortoise at 6:41 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    As a person who's employed by a non-profit historical cinema, boy this turned into the wrong thread for me to be in.

    The non-profit rep theater near me (a) doesn't check bags and (b) sells delicious popcorn with real butter and other such nice things, at prices at or lower than the price in a chain theater. Seems to be doing okay.
    posted by praemunire at 6:41 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


    >lol, YCTAB, I'm always waiting for the MeFi thread where you argue how the true anarchosocialist filches from grandma's purse
    posted by thetortoise at 6:41 PM on February 12 [+] [!]


    well yeah but you gotta do it with style.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    My kid has a food allergy. Therefore I take special kid-death-free food into ALL OF THE PLACES. The key is pockets. Lots of pockets. And if you are a lady-person like myself, cosmetics bags for your purse that are stuffed with food instead of cosmetics. I've literally never had a bag-searcher open a cosmetics bag in my purse. I'm sure they're all terrified of finding a tampon.
    posted by BlueJae at 6:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


    If you get a big winter coat from a thrift store and rip a large enough hole in the lining, you can stick an entire thing of grocery store cupcakes in there, as I did in middle school.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 6:46 PM on February 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


    but yeah look what I'm really in this place for (for just about any value of place — metafilter, movie theaters, outdoor concerts, the world) is what Bloch described as the Utopian impulse, those wholesome little glimmers of a better world that you can sometime see when you're able to get away with some little pleasant illicit act of freedom.

    Next year in Jerusalem, maybe. But this year we've got a swingset, a brown paper bag, and a bottle of cheap champagne. And that's fine enough by me.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:49 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    and hey I'm not an anarchosocialist yet — I'll probably be one eventually, but I want to get kicked out of all the mainline Marxist-Leninist organizations first.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:54 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Anyways, I thought movie theaters made their profit these days from the commercials they show before the previews.
    posted by Kevin Street at 6:56 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Okay, it's a tangent....but as an American living in the UK, I'd be willing to submit to a bag search, blood test, and anal probe if I could get some actual proper hot buttery popped-in-front-of-me movie theater popcorn as God and the Lumière brothers intended it to be.
    posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:00 PM on February 12, 2016 [17 favorites]


    Pesto pasta at a movie theater? Ok I'm firmly convinced that at least half of the anecdotes in this thread thus far are people trying to pull off a 4chan "spill my spaghetti" story.

    I've never done pesto, but I have brought tortellini with pink sauce to a movie. There was a decent Italian joint where I got some pasta to go, asked for a shopping bag from a random store in the mall, and took it into the movie. Nobody cared (and I cleaned up my trash after the movie). Far better than a meal at the theater for a similar cost.

    Of course now we finally have an Alamo Drafthouse, where the poor waiters have to hunch over while delivering you your $16 burger and $8 beer at your seat.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:02 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    > As a life-long pedestrian, my backpack is filled with everything I need for the entire day, so a bag search is going to take a while.

    I'm the same, and I've carried my bag into my local Regals before. They don't search, they glance.

    It's the most token search I've ever experienced; any pretense at security is beyond laughable. Coincidentally the first time I encountered this checkpoint, I had just minutes before decided not to grab a Jimmy John's sandwich from the next block over, because I was on the fence about eating before the show.

    Anyway, I'm a big guy with a big jacket. I'm sure I could manage a sizable firearm or a big sandwich. Probably not quite a two-liter.

    Of course, it's possible to sneak in something even bigger as long as it's not in a bag. (That's the Regal Thornton Place, at Northgate, for all you Seattlites.)
    posted by Sunburnt at 7:02 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    What happens when the sixteen-year-old ticket-ripper does find a gun in someone's bag?
    posted by Sys Rq at 7:06 PM on February 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


    My understanding is that the snack bar is where the actual money in running a cinema comes from, like gas stations. Is that wrong?

    That’s correct. They make all their money from concessions.

    I don't mind if movie theaters fail. sorry :(

    Then don’t go, hypocrite.

    I love all these all these arguments (music downloading, etc.) that claim something is too important to do without, yet not worth paying for, and it’s OK if the business fail.

    Sneaking food in is a game, and not that serious. But don’t act like it’s a right or serves some higher purpose. Stay home, do without if you want to make a point.
    posted by bongo_x at 7:09 PM on February 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


    As a person who's employed by a non-profit historical cinema, boy this turned into the wrong thread for me to be in.

    The non-profit rep theater near me (a) doesn't check bags and (b) sells delicious popcorn with real butter and other such nice things, at prices at or lower than the price in a chain theater. Seems to be doing okay.


    The one nearest me has a sign posted saying it's okay to bring in snacks/candy and soda, but not "food" meaning full meals I think. There's a lot of restaurants in a 2 block radius. They also have reasonably priced concessions with a small popcorn (about the size of a medium soda at a typical fast food place) costing a buck.

    But they get massive donations from some rich folks and don't ever need money though.
    posted by dogwalker at 7:14 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I see absolutely no act of hypocrisy involved in going to a movie even if I don't particularly care whether the theater survives as a business. I can enjoy the good parts of something while it lasts — including the fun game of smuggling in food and drink — without caring about whether or not it sticks around.

    Movie theaters, videogame arcades, bars, restaurants, bookstores not owned by Amazon, middle-class careers; they're all cherry blossoms, ephemeral and beautiful.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:16 PM on February 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


    I remember when they first implemented this after Some Asshole shot someone in one of their cinemas. My wife started to back out of line, I smiled and gestured that she should stand her ground. The usher looked in her purse, saw we had two Diet Mt. Dews and a bag of Reese's Pieces, but no gun. We were waved in without a word or second glance.

    My wife and I have both worked as ushers, and yes, we literally didn't care you were sneaking in food. Up to a point. Her point was Chinese takeout, a dozen boxes of which were being shared among five moviegoers. My point was at the Dollar Theater in Daytona Beach, when they smuggled in an entire BBQ feast: beef and two varieties of pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken legs - and all the sides - and two entire sweet potato pies.

    I kicked them out NOT because they had smuggled in outside contraband - quite cleverly, I might add - but because they thought they could get through the entire goddamn movie without sending any of it MY way. I have the little vest and bow-tie! I have the power! Offer unto ME one of them beef ribs and a slice of pie... OR SUFFER.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 7:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [22 favorites]


    My understanding is that the snack bar is where the actual money in running a cinema comes from, like gas stations. Is that wrong?

    Yes and no. If you are seeing the film on opening weekend, the distributor's cut is somewhere around 90% of the ticket price. That figure declines quite a lot as the weeks pass. So, if you are like me and hate crowds to the point where you won't see a film until several weeks have passed, the theater keeps most of your money.
    posted by wierdo at 7:27 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Hey, when movie theaters start selling pints of Old Grand-Dad at the concession stand, I'll stop smuggling them in.


    Just remember, that was a ticket to Princess Diaries 2 that you otherwise wouldn't have sold.
    posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:33 PM on February 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


    I'm just glad Regal doesn't ever card me and figure out that despite my grey beard, I'm really not eligible for that senior discount I've been reliably getting for every movie, because I'm eight years younger than the cashiers think I am and I'm too poor for movies otherwise.
    posted by sonascope at 7:37 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    They really haven't been bothering to check in the town I live in, and the other town that I go see movies in once in a while has given me the most token of glances as well. I open my bag and go, "There's a lot of yarn in there," and then they look at it and go "yup, there sure is," and that's been it. I can hide plenty of shit (or at least water bottles since I usually have those on my person even if I'm not drinking in the theater) under yarn. Given that I live in student territory, I shudder to think of how much of a pain in the ass it would be if they insisted on taking away backpacks. Lord knows they can't stash hundreds of them in the hot dog stand.
    posted by jenfullmoon at 7:44 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    This is one of those Things that Make Big Metropolitan Coastal Cities far superior to flyover land. Yes, we may be sexually deviant communists, but our independent theaters don't force us to watch 30 minutes of Pepsi ads, treat us like terrorists, and hell, many of them *serve* alcohol. Also arugula is far tastier than iceberg lettuce and espresso is superior to drive through drip coffee. Sneer at us all you want, but every time I go see a movie in a non AMC theater I literally thank the Jebus ironically that I'm not subjected to this kind of shit for 14 bucks a flick.
    posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:46 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Also, you guys know how expensive the rentals are and if you're trying to avoid paying for anything but tickets at your local theater, you're fucking them over, right? Smuggling in food is like not tipping at a restaurant; the system as it exists might not be right but you're still being a jerk.


    Wait, are you saying that food purchases at the movies should be compulsory? Because there are times when I see a movie when I don't want to eat anything, and certainly most of the time, I don't want any of the various concession foods. Am I still screwing over the theaters that way? I mean, usually, when I'm at a restaurant, I tip because I've ordered what I actually wanted, and the waiter has brought it to me.



    Oh something I've learned is that if liquids are allowed but booze not, bring bottles of kombucha spiked with vodka. it hides the smell perfectly.


    Yeah, but then you have to drink kombucha.
    posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:55 PM on February 12, 2016 [29 favorites]


    This is one of those Things that Make Big Metropolitan Coastal Cities far superior to flyover land.

    This kind of comment is one of the Things that make Metafilter less than awesome once in a while, though it has been improving a lot over the last year or so.

    It is our duty to bring as much covert food and alcohol as possible into movie theatres. An entire picnic if possible, complete with a bottle of wine and appropriate wine glasses.

    I almost never go to the theater because I have a high definition TV with a good sound system at home, so why pay more for a worse experience? But a while back I got talked into what was basically a totally immature day-drinking movie expedition. Everyone smuggled in some alcohol, and we sat right in the middle of the theater. We started off nicely clandestine and appropriately quiet, but after about 1/3 of the movie empty cans started rolling down the floor, and then someone rolled a bottle all the way to the very front, clanking excruciatingly loudly at every row. We were Those People, but it was a terrible movie and there was almost no one there, and amazingly no one reported us to management.

    We did buy plenty of concession snacks, so there was that at least.
    posted by Dip Flash at 8:05 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    But I am never, ever, ever going to be buying shitty movie theater nachos.

    I don't know the last time you had the nachos at a Regal but they're worse: literally a bag of Tostitos and a cup of cheese sauce.

    Also, not a single person looked in my purse but I did see a sign saying they would.
    posted by LizBoBiz at 8:11 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I love all these all these arguments (music downloading, etc.) that claim something is too important to do without, yet not worth paying for, and it’s OK if the business fail.

    Personally I wouldn't make this argument in support of music/movie/whatever downloading, but I don't think this analogy works at all.

    I'm not paying $12 for a movie ticket so that I can have the privilege of paying $15 for a soda + popcorn. Although actually, I do have a soft spot for movie theater popcorn, so I usually cave and buy it since going to movie theater is like a once a year at most event for me.

    But also, I'd be much happier if they sold popcorn with a size selection that wasn't Gigantic, Ginormous, and "Could feed an entire family for a week." Also I hate shitty fountain soda. Just charge me $3 for a 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke like the airports do. But until then, I'm smuggling in my bottle of Diet Coke when I go to the movies, and I'm still bitter that I have to chug my bottle of water before going through airport security.

    Although there is a special place in my heart for the movie theater near me that has the giant reclining seats AND Coke Icees which are disgusting but I'm compelled to consume and enjoy them because of my 12 year old self's devotion to the Coke Icees sold at the Amoco gas stations before it got replaced by the stupid Circle K/76.

    But if I'm not going in for the giant reclining chair + Coke Icee deal, then I'll go to the awesome historical nonprofit theater where I'll happily pay for the delicious and not even sickening at all popcorn. Also bonus complimentary ice water!
    posted by litera scripta manet at 8:14 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Because I work from home, I used to go to the Co-Op Salad bar before weekday matinees of non-kid friendly movies every now and again. It was a great way to have lunch.

    We have a fancy new theater here with leather chairs and ottomans and a full bar. I don't mind paying more to go there and enjoy a cheese plate and a gin and tonic at a big budget spectacle, instead of smuggling stuff in at the mall and dealing with loud crowds and (comparatively) uncomfortable seats. If it turns out that this is where I go indefensibly yuppie, then so be it.
    posted by thivaia at 8:15 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Protip:

    Put a Dorito chip in your mouth and suck all the flavor off. Don't dare bite it or else everyone will know it was smuggled in. Everyone knows those horrid tortilla chips with the thermonuclear cheese aren't crunchy.

    And then when it's soft and all the flavor is gone, just take it out and toss it under your seat.

    Carb-free and sticking it to the man!
    posted by hal_c_on at 8:17 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    What happens when the sixteen-year-old ticket-ripper does find a gun in someone's bag?

    OK, Dollar Theater in Coastal Florida in an age before - we had more guns than usual floating around, depending on what week it was, and which set of tourists were in town.

    We, the ticket-rippers, tell them they can't bring in a gun.

    They get aggressive.

    We scuttle off to tell the manager, and boy, howdy, she likes men in uniforms, so she pulls the fuck out of the fire-alarm in her office, and when the fire department calls her office phone, she says, "They have GUNS! HURRY!"

    Then she ogles the swat guys openly as the "renegade bikers" have long since fucked off back to their hotels when the alarm went off. We send the new kid to go buy a bag of Krystals with money from the till and goof off until end of shift.

    This happened three times in the two years I was working there.

    I think it would be significantly less comedic these days. Or maybe I'm old, and not as nihilistic.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:21 PM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I always appreciate arguments that we as consumers have the moral imperative to subsidize business and their choices.
    posted by Carillon at 8:30 PM on February 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


    I once walked into a movie theater with a beer bottle in each boot. They clinked together once but no one noticed except my friend, who had the rest of the 6-pack in various pockets. Ups laughing uproariously did turn a few heads, but staff left us alone. It was a slow night, & there were about 10 people in the whole place. We did to our best to conceal the "psst" of popping a top, but I think the other 8 people in that movie knew we were getting trashed.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 8:44 PM on February 12, 2016


    I always appreciate arguments that we as consumers have the moral imperative to subsidize business and their choices.

    I wouldn't call it a moral imperative, but you can't really do something that undermines a business's ability to make a buck and then get upset when they do things (I'm assuming things that don't violate your rights or anything, naturally) to protect that buck.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 8:52 PM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I don't see, "unless they have snacks" in this law...
    2010 New York Code
    CVR - Civil Rights
    Article 4 - (40 - 45) Equal Rights in Places of Public Accommodation and Amusement
    40-B - Wrongful refusal of admission to and ejection from places of public entertainment and amusement.

    § 40-b. Wrongful refusal of admission to and ejection from places of
    public entertainment and amusement. No person, agency, bureau,
    corporation or association, being the owner, lessee, proprietor,
    manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public
    entertainment and amusement as hereinafter defined shall refuse to admit
    to any public performance held at such place any person over the age of
    twenty-one years who presents a ticket of admission to the performance a
    reasonable time before the commencement thereof, or shall eject or
    demand the departure of any such person from such place during the
    course of the performance, whether or not accompanied by an offer to
    refund the purchase price or value of the ticket of admission presented
    by such person; but nothing in this section contained shall be construed
    to prevent the refusal of admission to or the ejection of any person
    whose conduct or speech thereat or therein is abusive or offensive or of
    any person engaged in any activity which may tend to a breach of the
    peace.
    The places of public entertainment and amusement within the meaning of
    this section shall be legitimate theatres, burlesque theatres, music
    halls, opera houses, concert halls and circuses.
    posted by mikelieman at 8:58 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Until this thread I did not know they objected to outside food. I rarely go to the theater for a movie. Maybe once a year. Maybe. But, I went in December. Without thinking, I got two slices to go from the pizza place a block away and walked right in, small pizza box and all. No one said boo to me. I guess aggressive ignorance works best against a 16 year old ticket taker.
    posted by AugustWest at 9:00 PM on February 12, 2016


    Movie theater snack smuggling, EZmode edition: go to a drive-in. Hell, you can bring in takeout from your favorite restaurant no problem if you're headed for a drive-in.
    posted by Gymnopedist at 9:00 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I always appreciate arguments that we as consumers have the moral imperative to subsidize business and their choices.

    I would never argue this, quite the opposite in fact. If I don’t like the rules I don’t participate.
    posted by bongo_x at 9:11 PM on February 12, 2016


    Last year Regal Cinema started checking bags and backpacks in their theaters.

    This is why I started hiding grocery store Milk Duds and Twizzlers in my "prison wallet."
    posted by dgaicun at 9:13 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Last time i went to the movies we were pretty baked already, and we wanted to keep the buzz going so we filled up a couple of coke bottles with red wine. As we were going on, openly brandishing our wine-filled coke bottles and high af, the ticket-tearer dude said "sorry you can't bring those cokes in here, we sell coke." And I said "oh, it's ok- it's not coke it's wine" And the guy waved us on in because how can you argue with that logic?
    posted by Cookiebastard at 9:15 PM on February 12, 2016 [38 favorites]


    The only theater I go to serves alcohol and pretty good food for the same price as anywhere else around here, and you watch the movie from a couch. They have little buttons you press like a drive in to get a beer refill. They don't show the latest pop culture and you have to smoke your pot on the sidewalk but who the fuck cares.

    Otherwise, my policy is Full Spy Mode in regards to smuggling snacks.

    A couple of years ago, I was riding my bike as my exclusive mode of transit. A hardware store, that I was a regular customer of, wanted me to leave my trunk bag/pannier with them when I entered the store. I argued that there were several women in the store with purses larger than my trunk bag. They held fast. I left. I can buy screws somewhere else.

    Solidarity comrade, this drives me fucking crazy as well.
    posted by bradbane at 9:18 PM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Intentionally spraying the security guard in the face with cola

    I love it when people fuck over hourly employees because they have an issue with administrative policy

    what a hero
    posted by runt at 9:47 PM on February 12, 2016 [27 favorites]


    I would never argue this, quite the opposite in fact. If I don’t like the rules I don’t participate.
    posted by bongo_x at 9:11 PM on February 12 [+] [!]


    oh what a sweet clear kind world you must live in.

    In reality there's a ton of systems where we have to participate regardless of whether we like the rules. We're all webbed together with each other, inextricably, and if you're in the wrong part of the web you don't get much choice of things at all. Sure, for little things like going to movie theaters, you can choose or not choose freely, so long as you can muster the effective demand to pay the toll to get in. But for most of the more meaningful parts in our lives, we don't have the option of not participating, regardless of our opinion of the rules.

    The thing is, what governs the webs of power that define the shapes of our lives isn't "the rules", exactly, though rules are part of it. It's power, all the multifarious obligations from some of us to others of us and all the various sticks held over all of us by some of us. Rules can provide a framework of sorts, but power, rather than the rules, determines the result. This power can be big obvious things like the power to hire and fire or the power to arrest and detain, but it can also be little things, like the power to figure out when the boss isn't looking, and then skive off, or the power to smuggle contraband into bars and theaters, or the power to work on your own projects on company time when you've rigged it up so that they can't prove that that's what you're doing.

    The childish utopian joy of violating the rules of a movie theater (a situation where the rules are a dead letter because the bosses aren't there to catch you and the staff are for the most part on your side) is a miniature prefiguration of the joy that comes with real freedom. That little happy hiccup you feel when you realize (to use Woody Guthrie's example) that the menacing, forbidding sign reading "private property no trespassing" actually doesn't say anything at all if you walk around to the other side of it and look at it that way, that is, in its small way, the best feeling. The rules which appear to be all-powerful turn out to be full of holes, so long as you adjust your eyes to look for the holes in the rules, rather than at the text that defines them.

    Like, conscious violation of petty property rules isn't going to smash the state or anything, but it's fun, and it's good in a very small way for your soul to remind yourself, through your actions, that it's the people in the theater who in the final analysis determine what happen in the theater, rather than some abstract, distant rule about how things are supposed to be.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:55 PM on February 12, 2016 [28 favorites]


    (fwiw I snuck that plate of beans into the thread, the one I just overthought, by putting it under the cardboard divider at the bottom of a Settlers of Catan box.)
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:01 PM on February 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


    Once again, I feel fortunate to live in a civilized society where I can bring anything I want into the movie theater and if I haven't planned ahead by preparing a nice picnic and a fine bottle, then I can buy food in the theater equivalent to any chain fast food and at about the same price. Hell, last time I went to the movies with some friends my buddy bought us all pancakes. Pancakes. In the theater. With maple syrup.
    posted by Gotanda at 10:10 PM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Pancakes. In the theater. With maple syrup.

    I want to go to there.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:13 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    agency is a fun and cool thing to have in a society dominated by intrusive systems but I feel like you have to be kidding yourself or like just crazy to romanticize sneaking snacks into a movie theater

    this whole thread feels like people justifying their middle class entitlements by using some Thoreau level individualistic bullshit. I deserve to have a slightly better playlist, I deserve to have better tasting alcohol at a concert becuz uh corporations suk I guess

    it's not a human necessity to watch cinema on a giant screen with a speaker system. odds are good that you will get over it p fast
    posted by runt at 10:19 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


    I worked at a movie theater for many years. Yes it's true that we basically only came out ahead due to the concession stand. We had to pay for the right to show every movie plus employee wages plus utilities plus maintenance etc. Box office tickets didn't cover that at all. It's a shitty business model. To this day I still smuggle food in because fuck their shitty business model. And anyone who tries to take my bag from me won't be getting my business. Plenty of other theaters to go to or I'll just stay at home and watch on my nice TV. If they just sold concessions at a slightly cheaper price more people would happily buy them.
    posted by FireFountain at 10:28 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Am I the only person who actually likes getting the snacks at the theater? It's part of the whole experience.
    posted by bleep at 10:38 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    But corporations do suck? And have proven to work their hardest to extract every ounce of blood from us. Why is it so bad to take one small iota of power back?
    posted by Carillon at 10:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Wait, are you saying that food purchases at the movies should be compulsory? Because there are times when I see a movie when I don't want to eat anything, and certainly most of the time, I don't want any of the various concession foods. Am I still screwing over the theaters that way?

    I'm not your mom; I'm just saying that realistically that's where most of the money comes from, especially for your little local historic nonprofit art cinema or whatever. MeFi is so weird sometimes because there are all these threads where people talk about local economies and how they don't want monoculture, but those sentiments are hard to square with threads like this one where buying cheaper Milk Duds and skipping the theater in favor of Amazon Prime is somehow fighting the establishment.
    posted by thetortoise at 10:42 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    it's not a human necessity to watch cinema on a giant screen with a speaker system

    There's no inherent moral link between "watching cinema on giant screen, etc." and "watching cinema on giant screen, etc. while consuming only those products sold by the theater." I pay for my ticket. I am providing the value they request in return for being able to watch the movie. I am not stealing from them if I choose not to buy snacks from them, whether or not I bring in my own.

    Now, if the theaters can't make sufficient money without selling concessions to me, and they end up shutting down, I'll have to take that consequence, but that's not a moral issue, any more than it is for any other store that can't make rent from selling whatever it is it's selling. It's just a practical matter--as if the local bookstore ended up shutting down because I only buy used books, with their much lower margins, there and not new ones. It's up to me whether I want to part with more of my hard-earned dollars there just to keep them open.

    I always find it quite weird that people so ferociously internalize rules that corporations have made up strictly to maximize the corporations' profit and without any consultation with them. Seriously, some dude sitting in an office in NYC said "hey, everybody should have to buy all their snacks from us" and this turns into a moral imperative for you how? There are plenty of people out there who think that it's illegitimate and tyranny for our actual elected president to execute laws enacted by our elected Congress and reviewed by our duly-appointed Supreme Court, but somehow some random jerk at the PE fund that took your chain private has not merely power, but actual moral authority, over you?
    posted by praemunire at 10:44 PM on February 12, 2016 [28 favorites]


    Am I the only person who actually likes getting the snacks at the theater? It's part of the whole experience.

    yes, you are prolly the only person who enjoys paying $8 for an airplane-safe-sized bottle of Fabuloso toilet cleanser-scented "Vitamin Water" and $14 for a trash bag full of popcorn greased up with some kind of petroleum byproduct that bears no resemblance at all whatsoever to butter in any stage of its life including ancient rancidity

    kips bay has nice curly fries though
    posted by poffin boffin at 10:45 PM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Thinking about the economics of movie theaters, it seems to me that price differentiation is a big part of it. Some customers are willing to pay $25 for their movie and snacks, and so the theater gets their business. Others are only willing to pay $10 and will smuggle in their snacks, and the theater needs their business too. But there has to be a certain level of enforcement--too intrusive and they'll lose both types of customer, too lax and the $25 customers will turn into $10 customers. Making the smugglers plan ahead, use "low class" methods, or face the possibility of public embarrassment is how the higher-paying customers are made to believe that it's worth it--even if most smugglers get through. Without the charade, everyone would pay $10, and the business would fail.
    posted by alexei at 10:47 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


    how they don't want monoculture, but those sentiments are hard to square with threads like this one where buying cheaper Milk Duds and skipping the theater in favor of Amazon Prime is somehow fighting the establishment

    ...you know that Regal Cinema is a national chain that runs first-run Hollywood movies, right? The article is not about the Brattle or the Film Forum or the Mission Theater (though that's a chain, at least it's a mini-chain). Regal Cinema is monoculture.
    posted by praemunire at 10:48 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


    Kid packs are the solution for movie theater snacks. A little bad drink with lots of ice topped off by bottle smuggled in, small amount of butter popcorn, tiny candy pack supplemented by dollar store box of other candy.
    Price range - 6 to 7 bucks.
    Hits the spot.
    posted by cairnoflore at 10:53 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I always find it quite weird that people so ferociously internalize rules that corporations have made up strictly to maximize the corporations' profit and without any consultation with them

    am I too sober for this thread or do you really think that sneaking snacks into a theater is an effective critique of free market capitalism / corporations

    like sure, I cook my food, I drink water, I avoid spending unnecessary money on unnecessary luxuries etc. I also don't go to movie theaters because it's a waste of money and probably the least socially engaging way to spend time with people

    you want to not be fucked over by corporations? then don't pay for their services. you want to limit the power of corporations? volunteer you time with an advocacy group and go out and vote

    this whole sneaking snacks in as some kind of exercise of individual agency is like the most dirtbag teen ie short sighted way of going about things
    posted by runt at 10:53 PM on February 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


    this whole sneaking snacks in as some kind of exercise of individual agency is like the most dirtbag teen ie short sighted way of going about things

    Why do we have to sneak in snacks, when the New York law I cited above says it's unlawful to deny me entry for any reasons other than the ones in the law?
    No person, agency, bureau, corporation or association, [ ...] shall refuse to admit to any public performance held at such place any person over the age of twenty-one years who presents a ticket of admission to the performance a reasonable time before the commencement thereof,...
    Over 21?

    Have a ticket?

    Show up early ( on time )?

    That's it. Them saying I can't enter because I have a bottle of diet coke in my pocket is, in New York, actually unlawful. In practical terms, they're acting in bad faith, and I'm under no obligation to buy things from their concessions.
    posted by mikelieman at 11:02 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I love all these all these arguments (music downloading, etc.) that claim something is too important to do without, yet not worth paying for, and it’s OK if the business fail.

    From a business perspective, sneaking food in is no different than not buying concessions. So from a categorical imperative perspective, sneaking in food seems morally fine. I'm okay if prices go up to reflect the cost of actually showing a movie. If the business goes under, well that seems like an extreme and unlikely outcome.

    The best argument I can imagine for a morality of concessions is that buying them subsidizes tickets for people who would otherwise stay home if prices were higher. But you then have to go a step further and demand that the poor not break the rule, out of compassion for their wealthy counterparts, buying their Veblen candies.
    posted by pwnguin at 11:04 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    A trash bag? Vitamin water? Really? Jesus christ this is a joyless thread. It's possible to go to the movies a few times a year, get a normal human sized quantity of popcorn and a normal size soda (which some people drink and that's fine!). It doesn't cost that much money for something you only do once in awhile. It's nice to eat popcorn at the movie theater that's not part of some big important anti-capitalist caper. It doesn't automatically make you one of the Dursleys or something.
    posted by bleep at 11:04 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


    am I too sober for this thread or do you really think that sneaking snacks into a theater is an effective critique of free market capitalism / corporations

    No, I think it's an effective way for me to have snacks and/or not waste money.

    you want to not be fucked over by corporations? then don't pay for their services. you want to limit the power of corporations? volunteer you time with an advocacy group and go out and vote

    Sorry, I don't see why my choices should be so constrained. (I might also point out that you have no idea what I do do in the advocacy space.)

    this whole sneaking snacks in as some kind of exercise of individual agency is like the most dirtbag teen ie short sighted way of going about things

    a) It's an exercise of my wallet, really. Individual autonomy from the dictates of the corporation is just the necessary precondition for me to do so in accordance with my own moral beliefs. I see from this thread that maybe some folks are, but I personally am not smuggling in snacks for the kicks, man.
    b) It's only short-sighted if I really believe that the theaters will shut down if a certain percentage of people smuggle in snacks, and if I value the theaters staying open enough that I would rather basically donate them money for their overpriced and frankly gross offerings than enjoy my preferred snacks. Your argument proves too much, really. Do you buy a panoply of snacks from the concession stand every single time you go to the theater? If not, you're short-sighted yourself! Don't you know the theater needs those profits to stay open?
    posted by praemunire at 11:06 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


    ...you know that Regal Cinema is a national chain that runs first-run Hollywood movies, right? The article is not about the Brattle or the Film Forum or the Mission Theater (though that's a chain, at least it's a mini-chain). Regal Cinema is monoculture.

    Yeah, though the thread is pretty far afield from just being about Regal at this point, given that the snack angle has totally taken over the mass-shooting security thing. Anyway, I'm getting tired of being a jerk here; eat whatever you like and be kind to employees (I was tearing tickets in my 30s, folks).
    posted by thetortoise at 11:20 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Considering how inexpensive big pretty TVs have gotten, I don't know why anyone bothers anymore.
    Fury Road on a home TV...Mediocre.
    posted by boilermonster at 11:23 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    MeFi is so weird sometimes because there are all these threads where people talk about local economies and how they don't want monoculture, but those sentiments are hard to square with threads like this one where buying cheaper Milk Duds and skipping the theater in favor of Amazon Prime is somehow fighting the establishment.

    this whole thread feels like people justifying their middle class entitlements by using some Thoreau level individualistic bullshit.

    Yes. There are some people who had a meet up at a bird sanctuary in Oregon recently who would give high fives to many of the opinions expressed here.
    posted by bongo_x at 11:48 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Yes. There are some people who had a meet up at a bird sanctuary in Oregon recently who would give high fives to many of the opinions expressed here.

    !!!

    There is absolutely no overlap between the laws arrived at by a (more-or-less) democratic governing process and the "rules" set up by a business. There is no moral requirement to obey such a request. It has no authority to make any such request of you. The way a lot of people here seem to believe that a theater's sign saying "no outside food or drink" has some kind of power over them is... really disturbing to me.
    posted by junco at 12:21 AM on February 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


    but yeah look what I'm really in this place for (for just about any value of place — metafilter, movie theaters, outdoor concerts, the world) is what Bloch described as the Utopian impulse, those wholesome little glimmers of a better world that you can sometime see when you're able to get away with some little pleasant illicit act of freedom.

    relevant
    posted by invitapriore at 12:22 AM on February 13, 2016


    Very glad to see people expressing the reservations I feel about the prevailing narrative in the thread.
    posted by persona au gratin at 12:57 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    whole thread feels like people justifying their middle class entitlements by using some Thoreau level individualistic bullshit.

    Please don't assume that intelligent and articulate people are necessarily middle class.

    For what it's worth, it's not the moral duty of consumers in a capitalist system to maximise the profit margins of private entities. Cinema chains, by virtue of what they are, do whatever they can to screw over their customers, their employees, their suppliers, distributors, artists, everyone. They don't make choices based on the greater good. I don't believe that it's the responsibility of the consumer to do that for them.

    I don't smuggle in snacks at independent cinemas, and I also make donations at non-profit cinemas. But those are acts of my own personal agency. I want a world in which those places flourish and I act accordingly. I don't really care about the chains, so I don't go out of my way to make sure they survive.
    posted by howfar at 1:02 AM on February 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


    bleep: "Am I the only person who actually likes getting the snacks at the theater? It's part of the whole experience."

    Nope. My wife and I go a couple times a year in part because when we were first dating we'd go a couple times a week. We usually get stuff from the concession because it is part of the experience.
    posted by Mitheral at 1:28 AM on February 13, 2016


    It has no authority to make any such request of you.

    I'm not super knowledgable about liquor licenses but if people are sneaking alcoholic beverages into theatres, they possibly have some kind of authority to tell you to get rid of those or leave. I guess that's only one specific request though and i doubt it justifies searching.
    posted by dogwalker at 1:45 AM on February 13, 2016


    I'm an adult.
    I can survive 2-3 hours without food.
    (or using the toilet).

    Anyways, I thought movie theaters made their profit these days from the commercials they show before the previews.

    Just wait until they add watermarky interstital ads.
    posted by Mezentian at 2:14 AM on February 13, 2016


    Was it here on MetaFilter that I read about a privately owned theater that encouraged picnicking/bringing nice suppers to the movies? (I guess not, I searched but can't find the article). That seemed like a real nice idea.

    As for chain theaters, you can have them. I haven't been in one in years and don't miss them: filthy, noisy, unsupervised children, nasty employees etc.

    When I go to see a movie, I go to a Philadelphia treasure, the Ritz theaters (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/philadelphia) or one of these (https://www.fi.edu/theaters). I'm so lucky I have such nice alternatives, and they are within walking distance. No one has asked to search my back pack at either, but I wouldn't get all upset if they did.

    As for movies not shown at my theaters, I can wait until they're out on Amazon or Netflix and watch them in the comfort of my home and snack on whatever the hell I please.
    posted by james33 at 3:28 AM on February 13, 2016


    Was it here on MetaFilter that I read about a privately owned theater that encouraged picnicking/bringing nice suppers to the movies

    We have community run outdoor cinemas here that used to be like that, not sure if they are like that now, but they are awesome.
    posted by Mezentian at 3:51 AM on February 13, 2016


    I think it's kind of wacky to turn this into a moral argument about snacks, of all things. Regal put out a press release about this. They've warned you that they're checking bags to deter would-be murderers. If you want to sneak in food, just wear something with pockets. No one will pat you down. I've been bag-checked at Regals and they didn't even touch the bag, it's not a big deal. This is merely a security gesture.

    Personally, I love movies, and I used to live in a town with one one-screen theater. I still live in "flyover land" but I can go see Anomalisa or Theeb today if I want to. That's great, so great! I appreciate that so much and I don't care that it's a chain. If I'm shelling out to see a new movie, I don't mind buying concessions too to help keep the place alive.
    posted by heatvision at 3:57 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    This is merely a security gesture.

    That doesn't make it better. It makes it worse. Security theatre is bullshit.
    posted by howfar at 4:01 AM on February 13, 2016


    If you want to sneak in food, just wear something with pockets.

    If it is, under New York Civil Rights Law, unlawful for them to deny admission to an over 21 ticket holder who shows up on time, snacks or otherwise.

    So, rather than me acting in bad faith by bringing in food, they're acting unlawfully by telling me I can't.

    I'm certain they are unaware of their legal responsibilities, but of course, ignorance of the law isn't an excuse, and we really should be punishing those who break the law instead of validating and encouraging Regal's profit-driven "snack-shaming"
    posted by mikelieman at 4:27 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I straight up walked into Deadpool yesterday with an obvious bag containing a chimichanga. I was ready to shrug, smile, and say "It's cosplay!" but the ticket dude gave 0 fucks and I walked in unchallenged.

    I regret not stopping at the giant cookie place.
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:30 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Why do we have to sneak in snacks, when the New York law I cited above says it's unlawful to deny me entry for any reasons other than the ones in the law?

    Because you don't understand how that law works. You're not being denied entry. Your snacks are being denied entry. If you choose not to enter in solidarity with your snacks, that's on you.
    posted by slkinsey at 4:48 AM on February 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


    The last time I went to Regal, I had a burrito in my bag. The ticket taker asked to check my bag. He looked in at my burrito, and since it wasn't a gun, he waved me through. Then I bought a drink at the concession stand.
    posted by a fiendish thingy at 4:53 AM on February 13, 2016


    It wasn't exactly smuggling or a movie theater, but once, coming back from Spain to Chile, our bags were overweight by like 20 kg. I had a big windbreaker, where the inside of the pockets was basically the entire lining of the whole windbreaker, so you could fit a LOT of stuff in it. There was no limit on the weight of the clothes you were wearing.

    So, we started moving the heaviest stuff from our suitcases to my windbreaker pockets, mostly books, boots and presents, until the suitcases dropped enough weight. I walked on the airplane looking like a cartoon bag lady.
    posted by signal at 5:02 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


    but once, coming back from Spain to Chile, our bags were overweight by like 20 kg.

    A similar thing happened once to me coming home from Europe. I ended up wearing all the clothes at once and carrying the cheese as a "baby."

    No, wait, That was I Love Lucy, Season 5 Episode 26.

    Nevermind.
    posted by mikelieman at 5:06 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    People... people:
    Take food and drinks in, or not.
    I don't care.
    Just don't make noise.

    But, and here's the rub: don't take foods that smell (Pasta, burrittos, pizza, cooling McDonald's "food" or cans of coke and bourbon.

    Think of people around you when you're in an enclosed space.

    (And people wonder why I smear peanut butter in my socks).
    posted by Mezentian at 5:10 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    This thread might be the first time in my life that I'm happy that my favoured intoxicants come in tiny packets rather than in big glass bottles.

    But I do miss the days when you used to be able to smoke in the cinema.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:24 AM on February 13, 2016


    Nobody's linked to this yet? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foycHWwif_0
    posted by thefool at 5:40 AM on February 13, 2016


    My understanding is that the snack bar is where the actual money in running a cinema comes from, like gas stations. Is that wrong?

    That is not wrong. I worked in a movie theatre in high school, and then later in film distribution on the accounting end of the equation. The biggest money makers were the popcorn and the soda but what you are actually paying for are the cups and buckets; the popcorn (we popped fresh) and soda cost a few cents, if that. The candy makes money, obviously, but I think the soda and popcorn are the biggest margins by far.

    This was in the early 80s so things were a little looser back then, but one of the perks of working at the theatre was being able to eat an unlimited amount of food and drink, as long as it wasn't inventoried. For example soda in your own cup, popcorn and nachos in one of those little carry boxes instead of popcorn tubs and nacho trays. Cups, popcorn tubs, and all the candy was inventoried and had to be paid for. I've told this story before about how my friend and I were fired after being accused of stealing cups and tubs, and how our union came in and fought like hell for a couple of teenagers, and how Junior Mints saved the day.
    posted by Room 641-A at 5:59 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I have never understood the idea that someone can't sit in a room for two hours without eating.
    posted by shakespeherian at 6:48 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    My best smuggling story: at the last December NFL game in our town, my sibling, a friend, and I managed to get two six-packs of beer in by stashing the cans in our Santa hats.
    posted by TwoStride at 6:50 AM on February 13, 2016


    The only thing I've ever smuggled into a theatre is stuff they don't already sell there: a six-pack on occasion, a bottle of champagne once, coffee sometimes. The cups of coffee I generally carry under a jacket slung over my arm or something similar, though my brother once walked into a theatre with a latte in his pants pocket.
    posted by JenMarie at 6:50 AM on February 13, 2016


    I would never argue this, quite the opposite in fact. If I don’t like the rules I don’t participate.

    Me neither. I have enough money to go to the movies, but not to buy concessions. You are not permitted to bring in snacks. So, I go to the movies and don't eat. The end result is exactly the same for the movie theater - they get the admission ticket and no concession revenue. I suppose they may save a few cents from not having to clean up after someone eating a pasta dinner, but they won't be MAKING any other money.

    I think we can all agree that this is a shitty business model. Most middle class/lower middle class families (which we were) did the same when I was growing up. I never knew anyone to buy concessions at the movies because movie theater popcorn was too expensive and would price a day at the movies with the family out of reach. This did the movie chains no favors. Now we're looking at policing outside snacks to the level that the TSA polices forbidden items on planes, because the theaters need to protect their profit margins.

    Meanwhile places like Cinema Grills have started serving better food at real-world prices, and they are immensely popular. I remember going to one as a kid (I think we saw Babe), and I know my parents thought it was nice that they were able to pay the same price for a dinner out that they would if we had gone to a restaurant, but to do so in the movie theater. It was an outing in our price range, but the movie theaters got all of our money, instead of only getting the ticket revenues while an outside restaurant got our food revenue. Win-win!

    People in this thread are acting like, "If you can't afford it, then just don't go! Don't break the rules that you knew of in advance to screw over a business!" and I'm like, look, if people can't bring in outside food, and they can't afford movie theater concessions, keeping them from bringing in food won't make them suddenly buy concessions. The movie theaters will just end up getting ticket revenues and no more. Then we're back to the movie theaters trying another way to preserve profit margins - probably by raising ticket prices again.

    I'm not sure why this is a good outcome, personally. Especially when there's a clear alternative that already exists.
    posted by chainsofreedom at 6:52 AM on February 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Geez, back in the 90s our local Springfield theater wouldn't let us in with bags or "outside food". Once my cousin, brother and I tried arguing our way in, but the bouncer (he was a BIG dude) was having none of it. We ate our food and went back. The bouncer asked, "can I see if you guys got any outside food on you?"
    talkback fraula: "I have outside food."
    bouncer, angrily: "I told you you can't take any in the theater!!!"
    talkback fraula: "sorry man, it's in my stomach, you want me to get it out for you?" *started retching*

    The bouncer let us in post-haste.
    posted by fraula at 6:57 AM on February 13, 2016


    I sneak a few ortolan into the cinema, because they're small so it's easy to do. Problem is, I can't see the movie.
    posted by Elmore at 7:01 AM on February 13, 2016 [19 favorites]


    But I do miss the days when you used to be able to smoke in the cinema.

    That was hell, though I actually miss how the projector beam shone through the columns of smoke.
    posted by Dip Flash at 7:08 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Vitamin water? Really? Jesus christ this is a joyless thread.

    I don't drink soda, it makes me sick. And there was a long terrible time period when my theatre of choice sold ONLY that unholy Vitamin Water abomination and no other kind of water. So my choices were dehydration, drinking from the faucet in the ladies' room, or bringing my own bottle of water.
    posted by poffin boffin at 7:16 AM on February 13, 2016


    This thread is kind of baffling. Everyone seems to be focused on snacks when the headline is frickin' mandatory bag searches.

    I had no idea this policy existed when I went to go see Star Wars a few weeks ago. I always carry a bag and I never eat at the theater. When the teenage, minimum wage employee told me that he had to check my bag, my first impulse was to give it over. But then I realized what I was doing... I was submitting to a search of my person and belongings in order to go see a movie. It made me angry and I told him no.

    He's just doing what his manager told him he had to do, so I really struggled not to take it out on him... but I was not going to let him look in my bag, even if the only thing inside was my scarf.

    We faced off for a minute. I told him that I didn't agree to this search. he said it was policy... yadda, yadda, yadda. Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, "I'm going inside now." Then I walked inside. What the hell was he going to do about it?

    This isn't about snacks, or corporate profits, or middle-class rebellion. It's about not giving up my privacy and dignity just so I can see a movie about droids and Jedi. It's unnecessary, petty and ugly.

    Edited to add: I bet Kylo Ren makes his employees conduct bag searches.
    posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 8:01 AM on February 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


    I took 3 kids to a movie recently. The tickets were 18$ each. Then I ordered 3 "kid packs" which consisted of popcorn, hot dog and a small coke. It was $75. Seventy fucking five American dollars. If they had insisted on pawing thru my bag too, I could not be held responsible for the chaos I would have brought down upon their rapacious souls.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:32 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    We're concentrating on the snacks because none of us are interested in sneaking in guns. Though given that you have theater employees doing the checks, is there even any point to them? TSA employees miss guns all the time.
    posted by emjaybee at 8:43 AM on February 13, 2016


    My response to bag, receipt, and other checks I don't feel like submitting to is simply "No, thank you." It works most of the time. It's hard to tell whether the politeness throws them off or they just never cared to begin with. Sam's Club is pretty militant about checking receipts on the way out the door and can cancel your membership if you refuse to submit, but they have to figure out who you are to do that.

    Same thing for the nude-o-scope at the airport, but that results in someone screaming "OPT OUT!" at the top of their lungs followed by a free body rub. That last bit is male privilege in action, though. I'm quite sure it is a much less comfortable interaction for ladies. Nobody has ever groped my junk (they "meet resistance" from my pants long before they get near my marbles), but I've seen more than one woman get some creepy boob touches as part of the rub down process.
    posted by wierdo at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2016


    One of my favorite books is MST3K's Kevin Murphy's A Year at the Movies, the definitive love letter to movie-going where he endeavours to see a film theatrically every day of the year.

    On Thanksgiving, he manages in sneak in a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but drew the line at trying to get a small folding table past the usher.
    posted by dr_dank at 9:28 AM on February 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I'm an adult.
    I can survive 2-3 hours without food.
    (or using the toilet).


    Is it your position that those of us who can't are therefore not adults?
    posted by mattbcoset at 9:38 AM on February 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


    It's really hard to use a corkscrew quietly. You have to wait for a loud bit.

    No, you wait for the quietest part of the movie to pop the cork, or to pop open your beer. That sound during silence is your victory dance.
    posted by xedrik at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


    shakespeherian: "I have never understood the idea that someone can't sit in a room for two hours without eating."

    Because for the most part it isn't can't it is prefer not to.

    Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss: "I told him that I didn't agree to this search. he said it was policy... yadda, yadda, yadda. Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, "I'm going inside now." Then I walked inside. What the hell was he going to do about it?"

    Call security and have you escorted from the building.

    Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss: " Everyone seems to be focused on snacks when the headline is frickin' mandatory bag searches. "

    Because the mandatory bag check is a perceived as a way of restricting snacks. $Deity knows it isn't going to stop a theatre shooter. First thing a shooter does is shoot the bag check guy and then proceed to the theatre for his rampage.

    By the way does anyone know whether the bag check guy is getting a pay bump from the increased danger , intimidation and bullying experienced in his job verses a regular usher? I doubt it.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2016


    When I was a teen, I managed to smuggle an entire medium cheese pizza into a movie theater.

    In the late nineties or early aughts--sometime around the turn of that century--my brother decided that our group of movie-going friends must sneak a pair of large pepperoni pizzas into a movie. The original plan was for our large-as-a-bear friend to put one on his back under his trench coat, and my brother would carry another under his arm under his jacket. We had those little FRS radios so we could track employees' attention and exploit blind spots.

    Outside the theater, gravity foiled that plot as toppings slid perilously. I improvised by picking up both pizzas flat on my arms and telling everyone to put their coats on top. We strolled past employees nonchalantly, myself appearing to be an innocent designated coat carrier.

    In retrospect I doubt we fooled anyone, it was probably just not worth the bother of stopping us, especially with aforementioned bear-sized man in our midst.
    posted by Hot Pastrami! at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I go to the local Regal several times a year (I have a friend who hates to see movies alone, etc). I always have my backpack with me everywhere I go -- there is no place for me to leave it. The person at the ticket check spot is always nice and apologetic and asks me to open my bag. I do and they quickly look in and let me go. No problem. Several things:

    1. They've always told me they are looking for recording equipment.

    2. I tend to have a ton of stuff in my backpack, they just glance in the largest compartment.

    3. I live in Bellingham WA which is really close to Canada. I think some of their friendliness has rubbed off.

    4. I'm going to see a movie tomorrow at Regal. We'll see how it goes then.
    posted by bfootdav at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2016


    If you go to screening rooms in LA--DGA, etc, you usually walk through a metal detector.
    posted by Ideefixe at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2016


    I almost feel I am missing out on all this - I stopped going to movie theaters a loooooong time ago - when they started accusing the people who just paid for a ticket of being thieves with extensive pre-show warnings about piracy.

    If you think I'm a thief when I just dumped a lot of money on you, you can be sure I won't be coming back.

    Looks like they continue to select on who their customers are - only people who are happy being treated as shite are welcome these days.
    posted by DreamerFi at 12:35 PM on February 13, 2016


    Sign me up as one of many who just doesn't go to movie theaters, at all, for any reason, any more. My sole experience with movie theaters in the last decade comes from having a kid (in which case I am just as likely to wander out to the lobby to read).

    I would rather miss the one chance of a lifetime to see a great work of art than darken the doorway of even an art house cinema these days, and it has little to do with popcorn or snacks. The product sucks. The prices are a patent ripoff for such crappy and unoriginal content and for a miserable physical experience. The behavior of my fellow humans has declined to zoo-like standards. Some idiot is always eating ass-smelling food like McDonalds or Kombucha or a fucking chimichanga (yo, people, that stuff smells like barf to a lot of other people, you might as well be farting through the movie).*

    Half the people are texting on their phones or talking. The bacterial load on the seats and floors pales in comparison only to the HUGE bedbug risk in any NYC theater. You're a sitting duck for a mass shooting. And between home and work (where I have control of a cinema quality HD/surround screening room with a 106" HD system and high end surround sound, and with its own refrigerator full of quality beverages and snacks) and not caring about most movies made for the big screen anyway, and being singularly uninterested in 95% of new movies, a commercial movie theater offers me literally nothing worth paying for except maybe once every two years when there is actually a new movie I feel I must see on release (basically, Coen Brothers or Errol Morris, and even then I tend to walk out thinking I could have just waited).

    Hell, in NYC the bedbug risk alone would keep me out of movie theaters even if they didn't suck for other reasons and cost and arm and a leg for the pleasure of their suckiness.

    Movie theaters basically existed for most of the 20th century as places of escape from everyday life, either because you couldn't have quality visual/audio entertainment at home or because you needed a dark place to make out with your sweetie. These days they offer nothing but an exclusive monopoly on new movies, most of which are undistinguished mass market crapola and the rest of which will be more enjoyable when you can watch them on your own couch.

    * There is a special place in hell, to wax Albrightian, for people who bring stinky fried food into theaters or onto airplanes, and I include hamburgers and fries and chimichangas, not to mention kombucha, yo.
    posted by spitbull at 1:08 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    This is the second year that my Girl Scout troop will have a cookie booth outside our neighborhood Regal. We are required to set up by the dedicated exit door because we are not supposed to compete with the concession stand. Still, more than a few people have bought a box of Thin Mints, jammed them into their coat, and headed on in.
    posted by candyland at 1:10 PM on February 13, 2016


    Honestly, I will buy popcorn at a movie theatre w/out "the butter"---I do bring in my lil shaker of nooch or salt & vinegar topping--but if I'm not in a popcorn mood, I might smuggle in candy because I'm vegan and usually I can't eat any of the candy they sell. Sometimes I buy bottled water but usually it's because I've forgotten my own refillable bottle (I often make sure I always have one when I leave the house for anything). We have a marvellous lil indie theatre downtown that not only has an interesting variety of snacks/tea/coffee for purchase, but they don't charge extortionate rates for them either! I can get popcorn (they even provide nooch!!), a canned soda, and a dark chocolate bar for way less than a tenner! I will happily buy concessions there.
    posted by Kitteh at 1:14 PM on February 13, 2016


    > This is the second year that my Girl Scout troop will have a cookie booth outside our neighborhood Regal. We are required to set up by the dedicated exit door because we are not supposed to compete with the concession stand. Still, more than a few people have bought a box of Thin Mints, jammed them into their coat, and headed on in.
    posted by candyland at 1:10 PM on February 13 [+] [!]


    idea: have a kid (maybe wearing an old fashioned brown trenchcoat) occasionally sneak around to the line out front and say "psst, wanna buy some cookies?" to people waiting. Make the whole exchange look as much like a parody of a drug deal as possible.
    posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


    It's sad that people feel like they need to come in here and dump all over movie theaters. Maybe just don't go and leave it at that.
    posted by dogwalker at 1:30 PM on February 13, 2016


    Why is it "sad?" Oh the poor movie theaters? The FPP is about how a chain of movie theaters has decided to intrusively dump all over its patrons in the phony name of "security" but in fact to protect their ripoff business model.

    If you have a financial interest in the movie theater business I guess it's "sad." And this thread should give you reasons to be concerned about your business model.
    posted by spitbull at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


    It's the equivalent of someone posting about a singer or a band and then all the comments are about how much that band sucks. You don't have to listen to the band, you don't have to rant about how much the band sucks, you can just let the people that enjoy going to movie theaters talk about movie theater stuff.
    posted by dogwalker at 1:52 PM on February 13, 2016


    It's not like that at all.
    posted by Sys Rq at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I would never argue this, quite the opposite in fact. If I don’t like the rules I don’t participate.

    Why? It's more fun to break rules
    posted by Greg Nog at 2:18 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    It's not like that at all.

    To me, it's pretty similar. But I'm sure you have reasons to disagree.
    posted by dogwalker at 2:24 PM on February 13, 2016


    Mod note: Maybe let's not derail the whole thread over this? Better to just get back to actually talking about the subject of the thread if folks have things to discuss?
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:25 PM on February 13, 2016


    Mod note: Couple deleted; really, let's drop that sidebar.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:43 PM on February 13, 2016


    Mass shooters gonna shoot. Strict up gun owning laws, including mandatory liability insurance policies that cover every gun you own and guns brought on your home property. Breaks on price for taking safety classes, being a sport shooter who homes their weapons at the practice ranges (with riders for traveling to completions), no incidents, etc.

    And keep your damn Corporate Personhood out of my bags. And my skirts which have pockets I can carry 2-liter sized drink bottles in. Not unobtrusively, but we have tested the theory of holding. One theatre I grew up with was in a mall and they never stopped us bringing entire take away meals in openly (hard to eat enchiladas that way but their popcorn was actually trucked in). When I hit the movies I bring my empty Contigo bottle in openly and buy an Icee. When I take the kids it's a bucket of popcorn, hot dogs for the two who won't eat pop corn, and Icees all around. If they want more than that it's their pocket money.

    Theatre concessionaires, offer more than one bag of expired beef jerkey. It's not hard to re fridge cheese sticks and keep apple slices like the fast food joints do, or freaking let me order something nice in advance you can sub out to a vendor like a cheese plate and strawberries and oranges.

    Or just have a specialty vendor stock a limited premium case on a regular basis like the grab and go section at delis and split the cost. When it's gone for the night you still have popcorn and nacho shaped food.


    We have one pick a seat theatre in the area that serves "specialty" food that simply tastes like ass. What they call Angus beef tastes like a retired milker names Agnes was microwave heated a few times and the hummus pâté is hummus ruined by siracha and served with shitty pita chips (buy a bag of Stacys!). We are getting one the next town over soon ... They neeeed to improve their food.
    posted by tilde at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I'm surprised this thread got kind of heated; it started out so joyously with Buick hiding potato chips in his socks (No, I don't want those chips, ewww).

    As a sometime food-sneaker-inner, I have to say I've done it because early shows conflict with dinner and I don't want Red Vines and Fresca for dinner. But a few fancy theaters near me now have a dinner and drink menu (along with extra badass Lay-Z boy chairs) and that solved that problem. Movie theaters have had a rough ride in the last 20+ years and even though I hate blockbusters mostly, I still want to support theaters because I think it's a pretty great part of our culture. Seeing a movie with a lively audience can be a pretty fun experience. Some of my most fun movie experiences were because of audience reaction and participation (including drunken sing-a-longs). So no, I don't want theaters to fail.

    And I realize that checking backpacks is mainly about contraband food (that's long been a thing) but I do think theaters had to respond in some way to not only shootings but other incidents. Here, several years ago, an unstable guy brought in a knife attached to a bike chain and he was threatening people with it (which is apparently really hard to defend against because bike chains whip outward at you and loop around your arm/face when you try to block them). It ended in a police standoff and his death; just awful.

    Yeah, that's few and far between but because some people will do public violence, we have to respond somehow. Not responding seems like denial; I remember 20 years ago some people complaining about metal detectors in schools, how it would make kids feel like they aren't trusted etc. I'm not sure anyone would complain now; what seemed like hysteria and overreaction 20 years ago now seems like common sense. Some things are just very sad realities about modern life (and yes, I'm for gun control but that just doesn't cover everything.)
    posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 5:00 PM on February 13, 2016


    parliboy: This conversation makes me miss my trenchcoat that had an inside pocket big enough for the Sunday New York Times.

    I own a heavy wool hunting coat with a "game pocket" across the entire back. I believe that duck hunters are supposed to stuff dead birds in there or something; I have carried items as bulky as the Sunday Boston Globe before, and in winter I often forget wool hats, pairs of mittens, papers, and all sorts of things, often for months at a time.

    Smuggling food is *not* an issue with this coat from like October through April.
    posted by wenestvedt at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, that's few and far between but because some people will do public violence, we have to respond somehow. Not responding seems like denial...

    I vehemently believe that this is a mistake. Easy access to guns helps make random violence much worse than it might otherwise be, but the most important factor driving the seemingly endless cycle of murder is the attention that all the earlier shooters got and continue to get. People know their names. They were on TV and the Internet and everyone was trying to understand their inner lives. Some asshole who used to be an anonymous loser shoots up a Batman film and now everyone going to Regal Cinemas has to submit to being searched, maybe forever. He made that happen, and in the minds of other disturbed individuals like him that's the kind of power and fame they crave.

    The best way to slow down or maybe even stop the endless violence is to give nothing to these random murderers. Don't acknowledge them or respond to them at all, and maybe the next generation of crazies won't see murder as their best way to make a mark on the world.
    posted by Kevin Street at 1:23 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Between this & Samsung admitting that their "Smart" TV's are listening in on every word I'm about this close to forgetting moving images and focusing on building a library at home.
    posted by Ravneson at 5:06 AM on February 14, 2016


    Your only regret in building a library at home: you won't have 'all the time in the world'.

    (Can't "Smart" TVs be disabled?)
    posted by Mezentian at 5:21 AM on February 14, 2016


    I guess there isn't a big intersection of movie-goers with museum-, opera-, theater-, concert- and even specialty library-goers? Because all of the latter have been glancing into bags (or even requiring bag checking) for years.
    posted by slkinsey at 5:21 AM on February 14, 2016


    I dunno. I've seen bag checks of back packs and large bags, which I don't carry, for years. But usually at places that offer back checks (the kind where you leave your bag and get a ticket to pick it up later). And not that often; maybe 1/3 of museums and fancy theaters.

    (Can't "Smart" TVs be disabled?)

    Possibly; I simply never hooked mine up in that way. It's plugged into the electrical outlet, and our entertainment boxes (DVD, appleTv, Roku, Wii) are hard wired into it as well.
    posted by tilde at 5:45 AM on February 14, 2016


    I'm never sure where I stand on the "sneaking snacks into the movies" thing. I'd feel at least a bit bad about sneaking food into a restaurant, or sneaking my own drinks into a bar. I know the bar charges a lot more for the drinks than they cost at the store, but I also know that's how they stay in business, and no-one's making you go there. Same thing with the movie theater: My understanding is that they make a lot of their money selling snacks- they are in the business, in large part, of selling marked-up popcorn and soda.

    Of course, you can go to the movies and not bring a snack. Same as you can meet a friend at a bar or restaurant and not have anything to eat or drink yourself. But that's different from meeting a friend at a restaurant and bringing a coke and a sandwich for yourself.

    I can see the argument for why it's okay to sneak snacks into the movies, but (if you think those other things aren't okay) it never seems so clear to me as all that...
    posted by ManInSuit at 7:06 AM on February 14, 2016


    Apparently millions now find going to movie theaters a joyless experience, as we are at a 20 year low in movie theater attendance numbers.

    I think the position of many movie lovers (of whatever stripe) in this thread is critical of the movie theater industry, not of whatever pleasure some people do still take in going to movies. I would go to movies more often, I suspect, if the entire experience didn't feel infantilizing, uncomfortable, and radically overpriced for the experience delivered, and if I didn't have an endless library and very good to great private home theater options available to me to appreciate the form while eating what I like, not dealing with other peoples' weird shit or lack of manners, and saving big bucks for the old college fund. No one is calling people who still like putting up with all this, or have theater options in their area that are better than the options most people have, stupid or bad for doing so. No one is saying movies themselves have no value. Almost everyone writing negative opinions about the industry in this thread is comparing the current movie theater experience to a fond memory.

    Movie theaters are anachronistic anyway. They are going the way of the video store and the record store and the video game arcade. Personal viewing systems will soon provide far more immersive experiences much more cheaply, without need a dedicated building or relying on the sale of fake food.
    posted by spitbull at 8:03 AM on February 14, 2016


    If the movie theaters wanted to increase audience attendance, they would make the movies fun again by playing along with the smuggling.

    I want to sneak my six pack in through an obstacle course.
    posted by bradbane at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Smuggling in food is like not tipping at a restaurant; the system as it exists might not be right but you're still being a jerk.

    Very amusing. Is it ok if I never buy anything from the concession, and don't bring my own snacks? I ate earlier, thanks.
    posted by sneebler at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2016


    No, that is like getting up to use the washroom during a commercial break. Who would contemplate such a thing?
    posted by Mitheral at 9:46 AM on February 14, 2016


    Devils Rancher: "I once walked into a movie theater with a beer bottle in each boot. They clinked together once but no one noticed except my friend, who had the rest of the 6-pack in various pockets. Ups laughing uproariously did turn a few heads, but staff left us alone. It was a slow night, & there were about 10 people in the whole place. We did to our best to conceal the "psst" of popping a top, but I think the other 8 people in that movie knew we were getting trashed."

    I once went to a late movie with my usual gang of reprobates. I smuggled in 8 or so of those little bottles (I don't know the name of them, but you know the ones. No, NOT the teensy airline ones, the flasky sized ones) of premade Kamikazes, between my trenchcoat and some cami pants. Much fun was had that night.
    posted by Samizdata at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2016


    It's really hard to use a corkscrew quietly. You have to wait for a loud bit.

    So occasionally my nephew and I will have a few drinks and go to the movies together. It should be noted that my nephew is only four years younger than me. It's our thing that we do maybe four times a year or whatever, and what we do beforehand is buy about six bottles of Passion Pop (highlight from that wiki page: "It's 4.99 from Dan Murphys all around Australia ya gooses."), knock back a couple each in the alley behind the cinemas before the show, and have one each during the movie itself. We behave ourselves and aren't loud and don't disturb the other patrons, we just like to get a little tipsy and watch a flick.

    Passion Pop is good because it is cheap, refreshing, and gives you a nice buzz. It's also carbonated and comes in a champagne-style bottle. So last year my nephew and I were watching the new Mission Impossible and iirc we'd had two bottles each before the movie, one each during the movie, and we had a spare that we were going to share. I'd taken it out of the cold bag and removed the foil and the wire, and was waiting for a suitable explosion or car crash or gunfight to occur before popping the plastic cork. Just sitting there with the bottle in my lap, ready to go.

    So of course the removal of the foil and wire, and the temperature change from it being held in my lap for like three minutes while I waited for some noise, caused the cork to BURST out of the bottle with the world's loudest KA-POP* during what seemed at the time to be the quietest possible scene in the entire movie or any movie. We were up the back: cue the entire cinema audience (like two dozen people, if that) turning to glower at us.

    Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you.

    *We have no idea where the cork ended up.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 7:02 PM on February 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


    The best way to slow down or maybe even stop the endless violence is to give nothing to these random murderers.
    Isn't that like saying about airport security "well I don't want my bags searched because then the terrorists win"? We live in a world where people can and do sneak weapons into theaters (like the guy in my city with his knife and bike chain).

    If some kid checks my backpack, I really don't feel like it's a huge win for James Holmes or any would-be murderer. I don't see how that actually panders to them or encourages them; I don't get your logic on that at all. I think they just want to confirm I don't have some weird ass shit in there that I will use to hurt people. If you live in a major city, that kind of possibility runs through your mind much more frequently, because weird shit happens a lot in big cities. I really don't see it as a Threat To My Freedoms if some ticket taker wants to see if I'm carrying. Gun, um, 'fanciers', on the other hand *would* see it as a threat to their freedoms. "I can't carry at Star Wars? WTF is wrong with America? Thanks Obama!"

    Also, I wonder if public places now feel more of a concern about liability, that if they don't take some measure and there have been past incidences, then someone might see it as negligence. Companies usually want to also cover their ass not just out of safety, but to say they took reasonable measures to keep a place safe.
    posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 7:20 PM on February 14, 2016


    And whether or not theaters die, there will always be public entertainment and there will always be security issues with large crowds. People will always want to see some live show, or take their first dates to some dumb movie or similar stuff. It's not just what you or I want, it's what people generally want. Mass institutions always have certain rules and if they piss you off, just avoid them. It's pretty simple. But I still think they have to be responsive to public safety issues, just like schools now do. Public violence happens and it seems to be on the rise in the last several years; checking backpacks is about the least tragic fallout of it.

    In 2015, our mass shootings (USA) averaged more than once a week, IIRC. It was fucking staggering. Obama was nearly literally saying "Here I go, making this damn gun control speech again because of another goddamn shooting and the NRA won't budge". Weren't we all reeling from that last year?

    Thirty years ago, metal detectors at school seemed draconian, now does it sound like such a bad idea? Sadly, I don't think so. Sure there are a million other things we could do (and should do) do prevent violence (increased mental healthcare, increased gun control, preventing bullying & child abuse, etc etc) but I fail to see the logic in opposing taking really basic steps toward safety. We're in a country that has one or more shootings per week; I support taking actions on multiple fronts.
    posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 7:39 PM on February 14, 2016


    what we do beforehand is buy about six bottles of Passion Pop
    So, basically the equivalent of almost three bottles of wine?

    That's an impressive amount to alcohol in inhale in a short amount of time.

    But I can see where it makes more sense than the Berri big five litre cask of goon.

    Passion Pop is good

    Words I have never heard or seen before.
    posted by Mezentian at 8:11 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Ah, we've built up a tolerance, and if you get some burritos or burgers in your belly beforehand you'll be ok. If they were 750ml bottles of 9.5% ABV beer, for example, we'd be ruined.

    Also: "Passion Pop is good...for our purposes" is I guess the disclaimer I should have used :-P
    posted by turbid dahlia at 8:17 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


    ymgve: "Is this a US specific thing? At least with cinemas in Norway, you're free to bring whatever snacks you want (within reason, no alcohol or full meals) with you."

    I'm curious about this, too. In Japan there are overpriced concessions, but you can also bring in whatever you want. I've seen a full meal (er, well, in the sense of fast food "burger, fries, drink" meals, not "first a garden salad, followed by soup, then a light pasta dish, then the roast lamb, followed by a light chocolate mousse" meals) and beer, with no attempt to hide it.

    The fast food meal, I should point out, was eaten by a group who arrived a little early. By the time the movie started, they were all finished.
    posted by Bugbread at 4:41 AM on February 15, 2016


    Few theatres sell alcohol. I enjoy a margarita with a movie, or maybe a glass of wine. It's not a requirement, but it's pleasant. I have no idea why theatres generally don't sell it, and if they did, it would probably be crappy beer. So there's that. The sound of opening a bottle of beer is a tad conspicuous, and should wait for a crescendo in the music. As far as the smell, it's no worse than stale popcorn, 'butter', Pepsi, etc.
    posted by theora55 at 4:33 PM on February 15, 2016


    The problem with margaritas while watching a movie is having to wait for a scene where someone is using a blender.
    posted by Cookiebastard at 5:53 PM on February 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Few theatres sell alcohol. I enjoy a margarita with a movie, or maybe a glass of wine. It's not a requirement, but it's pleasant. I have no idea why theatres generally don't sell it, and if they did, it would probably be crappy beer.

    That would necessitate legal-aged servers, who'd need to be paid the full grownup minimum wage from day one, and may require some sort of certification. Under 20s only cost $4.25 for the first three months*, and it's not like they stick around too long beyond that.

    To say nothing of obtaining and keeping a liquor license when the booze disappears into a darkened room to be consumed by anybody.

    * (Federal figure; does not apply in states with a minimum wage higher than federal. That's about half of them plus DC. Teenagers might still get less in those states, though; for a full list of easy ways to exploit the eager and naive in your area, consult local labor laws.)
    posted by Sys Rq at 10:55 PM on February 15, 2016


    A few theaters near me have started selling alcohol, I hope this trend continues. Some movies just need booze! I went to a film noir festival and they had gin & tonics, as it should be. I think lots of people probably sneak alcohol in.
    posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:38 PM on February 15, 2016


    My favourite local cinema sells Odell's beer and locally made cakes. It's the first time in my adult life that I have been interested in purchasing anything from the concession stand, which I do every time I see a film there.

    Then again, it is an asset to the community and they also have 'bring your baby' showings, 'autistic friendly' showings and family friendly showings.

    At commercial cinemas where they show half an hour of adverts and trailers before the film I have no problem with people taking in a meal, as long it's not too smelly and they clean up after themselves. Most things in the world do not smell as bad as the 'nacho cheese' and hot dogs that the cinemas sell at the concession stand. No food that makes any noise during the film though.

    I advocate for an intermission during the long films that are popular these days. Those people who do avail themselves of a bucket of sugar water to consume during the previews are often clearly uncomfortable after the first hour of the film. When I saw the last Hobbit movie there was an intermission which was well received by the audience. There was even a person selling ice creams from the front of the auditorium and people could go to get another huge beverage if they so wished. Almost civilized!
    posted by asok at 3:42 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Isn't that like saying about airport security "well I don't want my bags searched because then the terrorists win"?

    Going back to pre-9/11 security levels at airports also sounds like an excellent idea to me, tbh
    posted by Greg Nog at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


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