Things I Hate About Going To The Movies

You know, for all the bitching and moaning a lot of us do around here about the movies these day (and that includes posters and commentors) it struck me that I’ve never put together an authoritative list on the things that bug me about going to the movies these days. And since today is a pretty slow news day, I thought this is the time to write it.

Now, before I go any further, let me preface all this by saying I still LOVE going to the movies. There are very few things in life that I find more fun. Ok going with an actual DATE to the movies is more fun. Ok ok ok… going with a date and then there being sex afterwards is also a hell of a lot more fun… but I digress.

So here you go folks, my list of things that bother me about going to the movies these day:

  1. Cost of admission ($10 for a ticket!?!?)
  2. Cost of Concession stands ($14 for 2 cokes an a popcorn?!?!?!)
  3. Huge Concession stand line ups
  4. Commercials running when the movie was supposed to start
  5. No pre-selected seating
  6. Parents who don’t take their crying kids out of the theater
  7. Teenagers who don’t shut the hell up
  8. The guy in the back who thinks everyone wants to hear his oneliner joke
  9. Theaters designed so that line ups are outside instead of inside
  10. Theaters with outside line ups that don’t spend $500 to set up overhead shelter to protect people in the line from the rain. It’s very simple to do.
  11. Theaters that have the “Ticket checker” set up past the concession stand. There are 30 people behind me waiting to get into the theater because I can’t get at my ticket in my pocket since my hands are full carrying 2 cokes and a bag of popcorn that cost me $14. And they don’t even set up a place to set down your stuff to get at your ticket for them!!!
  12. I know this falls under “Concession stand prices”… but it deserves to be mentioned on it’s own: $3.50 for a SMALL BOTTLE OF WATER!!!
  13. Bad sightline design. Theaters that don’t take into consideration that a tall person MAY actually sit in front of you and you may have a hard time seeing the movie you overpaid for. Increase the slope of the seating… raise the screen a little.
  14. Bathrooms with no paper towels and weak air hand dryers. I hate standing there trying to get my hands dry on the 1 operational dryer with 6 impatient guys standing behind me waiting to use the same one.
  15. People kicking the back of my seat (this doesn’t happen often… but when it does…)
  16. Sitting in an empty row with your buddy… and then 2 sweet looking woman come and sit in the same row… and you think “Oh yes”… and then 2 minutes later their bodybuilder boyfriends show up with the popcorn. Well… at least they had to pay $14 for it. Jerks.
  17. Late shows that start too late. Ok… I can’t get there on time to see the 7pm show… THE NEXT ONE DOESN’T START TILL 10:30!?!! I’ve gotta work in the morning!
  18. Early shows that start too early. “Yeah baby, we’ll do dinner and a movie… but we have to have dinner at 4:30pm because the STUPID FRICKEN MOVIE STARTS AT 6:10!
  19. People who stand in line to buy tickets and don’t actually start to decide what they want to see until they get up to the ticket girl… with 50 other people waiting behind them as they go “ummm… how about that one? Oh no… I don’t like that actor… how about that other one?”
  20. Theaters without free available parking
  21. Seats designed by some guy who really hates people and wants to inflict suffering
  22. People who don’t turn off their cell phones. How hard is that? DIE DIE DIE!!! (no kidding, I once had a guy whose phone rang 3 different times in the same movie… justifiable homicide your honor).
  23. Cup holders that aren’t actually big enough to hold the large cup. WHY!?!?!
  24. When the movie you invested $40 bucks in for tickets and snacks and 2 hours of your life ends up sucking.

Ok, I think that’ll do it for now. So what do you think of my list? Is there anything else that you’d add to it?

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33 thoughts on “Things I Hate About Going To The Movies

  1. Man, you all pay some money for tickets…we (Marines) can get tickets on base for 5 bucks a pop and use them out in town!!! But what I totally despise about going to the movies is noisy ass little kids. Please parents, (and I have a 2 year old daughter so I am not being biased) how can you take your little bratty kid to a movie and expect him to sit still and quiet the whole time especially when the movie is not a cartoon? Yeah, I know there are a few kids with decent parents who actually know how to raise them, and they are well behaved…but for the other 95%…please get a baby sitter.

    Remember when laser pointers were the fad like 10 years ago? Those things pissed me off to no end when you would be watching a movie and some dumb immature teenager would start laser pointing boobs and ass everytime a girl would pop up on screen. Our theatre actually started kicking people out for it so it stopped for a time.

    And last but now least…the people who put their feet up on the seats and you can smell their nasty smelly feet. And then they start wiggling and kicking and all you want to do it turn around and stab them in the eye. I have actually found that if you sneak a water bottle with the pop cap into the theatre and pretend to stretch and squirt the person annoying you…he usually gets the point and stops!!!

  2. To me, going to the theater is a great experience. Where i live(Jacksonville,Florida), the matinee is 6 bucks, and i go to the Baskin Robbins that is 5 minutes from the theater to get my drinks($1.50 for 44 oz. fountain drink). The popcorn makes me puke, so I never get the popcorn. I buy snacks in advance (candy that costs about 3 bucks). So it costs me a whoppin’ 10 bucks to go to the theatre on Saturday afternoon.

  3. And after all that, we wonder why people choose to invest money on home theater. I agree with just about every point and I also agree with John about experiencing blockbusters in the theaters. Of course, after the last dozen or so attempts to enjoy a movie, that I’m making an “exception” for, I must say that I continue to be reaffirmed that I’ll enjoy the experience more if I just stay home and watch it there. I may be a little behind but I’m a lot happier.

    Price for my wife and I to attend a film in Southern California = $20 – $30 depending on whether we want to snack or get something to drink. Plus, an annoying time due to very rude people (see above).

    Price of watching it at home = $16.49 if I catch it at Best Buy during the first week of release.

    So, in the end I own it for about half the price of going out – for us, its a no brainer…

  4. I was going to do a list similar to this, but it would’ve only pointed out the things that annoy me on the part of the film industry and the theaters. There’s been a lot of talk about theater attendance going down, and all these journalists and insiders site every reason but the ones you’ve listed. They don’t seem to understand that going to the movies these days is nothing less than excruciating. I can almost guarantee you that movies would make more in theaters if they didn’t do

    1. a slideshow

    2. commercials

    then 3. previews

    that way they’d be able to fit in more showings.

    By the time all that stuff is done with, I’ve forgotten what movie I came to see.

    Furthermore, there is no justifiable reason for not being able to bring in outside food and pay those outrageous prices for theater junk when people are just gonna throw the shit on the floor anyway.

  5. people who put there feet up right next to your head. batman begins.

    people who give blow jobs in the row behind you. finding neverland.

    people who smell bad. lemony snickets.

    people who bring lazer pointers. the island.

    people who choose the seat in front of you in an empty theater. proof.

    people who let their kids run free during a film. corpse bride.

    people who dont shut up and are in big groups so if u tell them to shut up you’re outnumbered and no one else speaks up either. white noise.

  6. 1. Bad sound systems (torn drivers, buzzing, side/rear channels that are not working). Also, movies that you know are in digital surround but presented in dolby analog. grrrr.

    2. Image that is not in frame or in focus or matted correctly. grrrrrrrr

    3. The whole movie-house industry is run like an amusement park (with equivalent crowd issues of sloppy food, noise, general chaos) instead of a “cinema” anyway these days so the home theater movement provides the better film-experience IMHO.

  7. I own a theater. The staff speaks to everyone after the show is over and ask them to come back and see us. The last show of the day the theater is as clean as the first show. Staff picks up and cleans up pop corn and mop up spills after each show. Gift ticket package is $20.00 gets you 2 tickets 2 med (32 oz) drinks and 1 Large (130 oz) popcorn. We sell water in the machine for $1.75, same as other drinks in machines. Some people don’t like some of our fountain drinks. We have a candy machine for kids that NOTHING in the machine is over .95 cents. Regular prices are adult $7.25 child $5.00. We have a happy hour show between 4 and 6 all seats are only $4.50. The projectionists are given bonuses at the end of a month if they send out all movies with no scratches. The almost always get the bonus. That is money I am glad to pay. We show NO rolling stock ads. We run NO more than 4 previews. We do run slide ads during intermission (better than a blank screen) We start the movie on time. So if you have 5 minutes of previews we start it 5 minutes early. The movie starts on time. Our ushers have radios with ear pieces, guest can’t here the radio sound. If the movie stops, the usher is on the radio and asking the proj. how long it will be? If it is 3 minutes or longer everybody is told head to the concession for FREE refills. If it is to long we hand out Buy 1 get one tickets. First things first SAFETY, after that it is all about the guest. We do everything to make them want to come back. If they don’t want to come back we have failed and try even harder next time.

  8. At the theater I go to the big talkers are the geezers in the back. And these geezers are all pretty much deaf, so a whisper to them is a holler to us. During Downfall I had to watch the entire movie with my hands cupped behind my ears, so I could hear the screen instead of their endless chatter.

    Re: The business of hearing explosions from the theater next door – for almost ten years of my moviegoing life I thought that was thunder. I’d hear a boom and say “Must be raining out”, then after the film I’d go out to the parking lot and say “Hmm, I guess it cleared up”.

    For years this went on.

    “Must be raining out.”

    “Hmm, I guess it cleared up.”

    “Must be raining out.”

    “Hmm, I guess it cleared up.”

    “Must be raining out.”

    “Hmm, I guess it cleared up.”

    “Must be raining out.”

    “Hmm, I guess it cleared up.”

    I’m not actually stupid, though. Really I’m not.

  9. it’s sad that this is the first thing that comes up on google when you type “film blog”….nobody here really cares about film….typical american hollywood-fed mouth breathers….while you guys are standing in line buying popcorn, i’m watching decent, well made films in small, quaint theaters that might be all of the above but with so much character and mystique….why don’t you guys go to blockbuster….the odds of any of you getting laid are probably about the same there…nil….

  10. Hey John,

    As an employee at a fairly expensive cinema in California, most of the items you’ve listed I completely agree with. However, there are some things that I’d like to address:

    1. I can’t truly be objective about this since I don’t pay for movies, but $9.00 for an evening show here is stretching it, especially since most of the movies we show are COMPLETE AND UTTER CRAP.

    2. There’s something that most people don’t realize about the concession stand at theatres. It’s probably the only thing that the theatre makes money off. Ticket prices are high, sure, but most if not all of that revenue goes right back to the studios. How does a theatre stay in business, then? It’s all in concession. By purchasing a popcorn and soda combo, you’re effectively paying for the cashier’s paycheck.

    3. Concession stand lineups are a huge problem, I admit. But there’s more to it than a lackluster staff. More often than not, a customer will come up to me, completely UNAWARE of what they want to order. They then proceed to ask me about EVERY single item until they can pick the right one. Then it turns out that we just sold the last garlic cheese pretzel, and the whole deciding process starts over again. It’s very intimidating, seeing 20+ people in line waiting to be served. Just realize that the staff for the most part is TRYING AS HARD AS THEY CAN to kill the line (or certain arrogant customers).

    4. An ad for is the only commercial that plays before the movie trailers start up here. It’s very short and funny the first two or three times (but after that it’s just plain ridiculous.)

    5. Pre-selected seating is a great idea on paper, but its entirely too hard to enforce considering the selfish and uncooperative nature of customers. Not to mention that the company is too stingy to pay people to be ushers in individual theatres.

    6. There’s a crying baby policy sign at the podium where tickets are ripped. Basically we have the right to ask parents to leave with their kids if they don’t do so on their own volition. I should also mention that people often point at the sign and make jokes “Crying baby policy, honey. I guess you can’t go to the movie!” God is that annoying.

    7. It’s amazing how much you grow to hate your own age group working in a theatre. Not only do they not know how to properly order food (You get the money from your mom BEFORE you decide what you want, NOT AFTER), they also have a nasty habit of being inconsiderate to the other customers. If someone complains to me, I usually have to go in and tell the kids to keep it down. Of course, being that I’m a teenager like them, they don’t take me seriously. I almost always have to ask an older supervisor to do the job for me. God, I hate kids.

    8. I don’t see movies that often, but I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE TALK. When I saw Lord of War a couple weeks back, this woman would NOT STOP TALKING. She would try to predict what would happen after every ten seconds, and would always scream whenever an ounce of bloodshed occurred. The problem is, the only thing people can really do is tell an usher, which involves leaving the movie. No one wants to miss anything.

    9. Ticket lineups are done outside. Movie lineups are done inside. I don’t quite understand the problem.

    10. We have shelter for the first three dozen or so people, but after that, it’s a free for all. It rarely rains here though.

    11. At my place “ticket checker” is called “door person”. It’s quite possibly the most boring job in the world. You basically have to stand in one place. You can’t fraternize, you can’t read a book, you can’t do anything but tell the people where the movie is. Once every movie is in, you have to stand perfectly still in the event that someone comes in late or has to come back in from a trip to the bathroom. We should probably set up a place to set your food, but usually the surface of the podium suffices. All of this is a moot point in a closed lobby cinema.

    12. $4.00 for a large water!

    13. Stadium seating. Learn it. Love it.

    14. Try having to clean a bathroom when a movie gets out. Now that’s what hell is really like.

    15. What’s even more annoying is when they put their up right next to your head. That’s always fun.

    16. Somehow I don’t think a movie theatre is the best place to pick up chicks. I see my fair share of dimes working the night shift. They’re all presumably single… until their boyfriends get out of the bathroom.

    17. All shows at our theatre start no later than 9:55PM. Any later would mean we would have to stay at work until about 1-2 o’clock in the morning.

    18. On weekends (including Fridays), we usually have four sets (five if a movie is particularly short): a late morning show (starting between 11-1), an afternoon show (3-4), early evening show (5-7), and a night show (9-10). Sometimes the times are inconvenient, but that’s almost always the fault of the movies. The Corpse Bride, for example, was SO SHORT that it had five sets. This made it show at odd times, which may or may not have been ideal for all people.

    19. See my earlier rant about concession. People need to choose before they order. Plain and simple.

    20. Parking is free here. I’ve never heard of a place without free parking.

    21. What amazes me is how fragile these seats really are. When I’m cleaning a movie that got out, sometimes I’ll find seatbacks just lying around the floor. There’s usually 1 or 2 seats that don’t work per theatre.

    22. People are selfish and annoying. The best you can do is give them a look of disapproval and hopefully shame them into never leaving their cell phone on again. A theatre nearby (which is owned by the same company) has a sign of the door “Remember to turn off all noisy electronic devices, including cell phones” This usually gets people to do the right thing.

    23. Never came across this problem with small cupholders.

    24. Yeah. Most of the movies today suck. That’s why I rarely take advantage of my employee privileges. I simply don’t want to waste two hours watching crap.

  11. The concession stand lines are long enough, but in the few times that I actually do arrive early (and hungry) enough to bother standing in line for 20 minutes and risk not getting a good set, there’s always a dozen people behind the counter and only 4 lines.


    And of course there’s a supervisor in a nice suite watching over them, probably making sure that the bunch of teenage kids working there don’t give freebies to their friends or burn the place down when the popcorn machine explodes.

    He better have SOME excuse for just standing around, because he sure as hell isn’t improving the customer experience.

  12. I would agree with that comment. I rarely have a problem with teens. It’s the 40 soething crowd. I went to go see “Hitch” when it came out and the older people behind me were would start yelling “oh watch this, this is so good.” Whenever any part that was in the previews would come up.

  13. People talking in the cinema (maybe it is the times I go to the movies) these days seem to be the 40+ year-olds, not the teenagers. I’ve been more annoyed by a guy talking to his girlfriend/companion/wife (trying to explain EMP to her during in War of the Worlds for example) or the 5 old ladies in Million Dollar Baby, who were probably in their early 60s and THEIR CELLPHONES were going off!!! One lady didn’t bother to deal with it, but let it ring in her purse (admittedly it was muted, but I was in the next row and it was clearly audible to me!) until the caller stopped trying to get thru.

    So I can’t blame the teens, the probem is universal. (The most polite bunch tend to be the 20-35 group, but there are always exceptions).

  14. It was my local artsy theatre so I let it slide but when I went to see Broken Flowers (quite the quiet movie)the soundtrack for March of the Penguins was BLASTING in the next theatre, it was like Morgn Freeman was narrating the movie. And Jeffrey Wright was the penguin.

  15. The High volume thing is quite annoying, Famous Players (which is now owned by Cineplex Odeon) in my area has been guilty (at all three of its multiplex locations) of too loud, no balance. Really Tedious.

    One other thing missing from the list is Digital Projector TV Ads projected onto the screen prior to screening….They have replaced those (significantly less annoying) slide shows with full video and audio…VERY ANNOYING if you are trying to read a book prior to screening start (yes I usually go to the movies by myself!)

  16. How about the guy who reserves an entire row for his 90 close friends on opening night. You go to try and sit down and he says “You can’t sit there, it’s reserved.” Or even worse spreads every article of loose clothing he has to reserve those seats.

  17. Am I the only one able to see movies for under $8 bucks? John don’t you have any Cineplexes in your area?

    Why would anyone buy food from a theater concession booth?!?!?! People if you insist on throwing money away – throw it to me! I’ll be instantly and fabulously wealthy and you all will be slim and trim!

    Bring your own goodies in. I usually hit a Bulk Barn on the way to the show. Never had a problem yet.

    The rest of your list is valid.

    My biggest pet peeve would be theaters that run their projectors with the bulb on minimal power. I paid to see a properly displayed movie!

    Do Not give me something that looks like Vaseline has been smeared over the lens!

    Finally Theater people – have your sound systems and projectors calibrated regularly by a professional! How is it that I can watch a DVD at home and get a better picture and way better sound! Louder does not mean better! Get your damn bass/subwoofers and speakers balanced!!!!

  18. Hey John, It’s not only the internet, video games, and quality of movies (that you mentioned in your audio edition) that are affecting the box office these days…it’s GOING to the movies.

    I worked at a Cineplex Odeon here in Canada as an usher back in the late 80’s. I must admit, the presentation of movies is better today with better seating, bigger screens, and better sound (at least in the new theatres). But because of the prices and annoyances from some of the other patrons, I tend to go to afternoon matinees now.

  19. Ehr Morbius, I had the row all to myself and nobody was behind me either (it wasnt a full house) so I am sure that I didnt annoy anyone when I was watching Serenity last Sunday afternoon at West India Quay.

  20. When the guy next to you has an overactive bladder and gets up 12 times during the movie to take a pee OR when the guy next to you has an awful sense of humor and will laugh at the dumbest things.

    In relation to the latter, i was watching batman begins last summer, and the guy next to me would break out in laughter when the rest of the audience was silent. And his laugh was the loudest, dorkiest laugh in the WHOLE FRICKIN’ U.S.A!!!!! Tell me, was the scene where Bruce saves Ducarte from falling off a cliff funny?!

  21. There is a streak of sadism to us all, if your every theatre experience went perfectly would you still go? Yes, but only if it hurt in other ways… like the price.

    The cheaper it gets the worse it gets, go to a $1 movie theatre sometime… talk about jerks and irks and annoyances… what you’ve described is half as bad as a normal night there.

    You get what you pay for… do you want low prices or good service?

  22. i find that brute force mixed with some very delicatly crafted ‘words’ helps with the people kicking chairs and using mobile phones.

    my favorite line to use is: (stand up, turn around) Listen fuckbag! if you dont ‘turn off that phone/stop kicking this chair’ then i will cut out your layrix (a part of the throat) and use it to drag your ass out of this cinema.

    or if its pretty empty, just get up and sit behind the fuckbag and annoy him/her. or is it that im just way too cynical?

  23. John if you are ever in Arizona there is a theater called Harkins Cine Capri; it is a throwback to old movie theaters where the experience is truly important. They designed it like if it were built in the twenties with todays technology, huge screen, great sound and stadium seating with alot of seats and the best thing in my opinion they actually have an usher sit through the movie so that any disturbances can be addressed. It is my favorite theater I’ve ever been to, unfortunately it is a couple of hours away so I don’t get there often.

    How about you get some funding and open a chain of theaters designed to please people like us.

  24. People who keep lighting up their cell phones. (Yes Simone!)

    People sitting behind you who keep kicking the back of your chair even after you have asked them not to!

  25. Does ANYONE hire ushers anymore?!

    For God’s sake!!!

    Even when you DO decide to do something about Talkey McTalkerton

    ine the seat two rows back…..

    There’s no-one to say it to!!!


  26. 3 times a cell phone rang? try 6 TIMES FROM THE SAME IDIOT IN A SPAN OF 20 MINUTES!! After realizing he was pissing people off he just turned off the ringer, then I was getting blinded from the lit up screen from his phone.

    Better sound proof walls between theatres. Tired of hearing explosions coming from next door during a quiet scene.

  27. Really John, you should consider doing a movie editorial, this is a very good list you’ve made, will it be added in your book?

    I actually LOVE going to movies, and surprisingly the cinema I go to here in London, formerly UGC now Cineworld’s West India Quay, is such a brilliant place. No shusing is required because I have noticed that the UK audience (at least from where I am based!) are behaved. During the release dates of Episodes II and III, I went to the Odeon in Leicester Square because of their digital cinema, but I didnt have to pay that high a price Abakhda. Its the time of day that you watch the film that affects the ticket price, go during the day!

  28. hi,

    i agree with some things on your list, but here in London you guys seem to be getting cheap tickets! In Leiscter Square Odeon (the one where all the big premieres occur)tickets can be up to £17 ($29.86)!!

  29. A theater that is too hot.

    A theater that is too cold.

    No lights on the steps.

    How about putting a tray on the back of the seat in front of me (like an airplane) so I can put my nacho’s an drink on it instead of on my lap and in between my legs.

  30. Jerkweeds that lean over and say “You gonna love how he dies at the end” as the opening credits start…

    Inferior sound systems…if your theatre can’t do at least 5.1…shut it down…

    sticky floors – for $10 a ticket – get a mop and use it.

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