15 Stories From A Movie Theater Employee You’d Probably Wish Were Not Real
There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting in a movie theater as the lights start to go out, and the movie starts playing on the silver screen to the accompanying orchestra of popcorn being crunched and drinks being slurped.
I absolutely love going to the cinema and so do plenty of you, I’d wager. But while we’re gleefully giggling at comedies or gasping as action heroes leap across rooftops, we remain blissfully unaware of what goes on backstage. Let me tell you, the lives of movie theater employees aren’t even half as glamorous as that of Hollywood stars.
Imgur user Hymeria shared some amusing and weird stories she experienced while working at the cinema, so scroll down and upvote the funniest ones. Let us know in the comments below which ones you loved most and why. And if you’ve ever worked at a movie theater yourself, we’d love it if you could tell us any funny stories from your time there!
In an interview, Hymeria told Bored Panda that a lot of her friends thought that her stories were hilarious and encouraged her to share them online “ if for no other reason than to give people a little look into the hardships of theater life, and some of the events that can happen to us.”
Hymeria revealed the biggest pros of cons of working at the cinema: “The biggest pro is definitely the tight-knit group you get to work with, but the perks are nice! The biggest con is probably, above all, the weird and wacky customers, the fact that you sort of get burnt out from the movies. I used to love going, but now I prefer to just stay home and watch stuff on streaming services or DVD.”
“I think every job has its outrageous moments, but the theater is a little more unique than some of them. Mostly because it's a giant room full of strangers, where you're left alone for hours at a time to be weird in a public, but somehow still private setting. Though every customer service job has its own niche of strange happenings, I feel that my stories help reflect some of the ones that are unique to a theater.”
She continued: “I honestly still love my job, and can't see myself changing it any time soon. The stories are great for venting, and I love being able to entertain people with them. It's definitely brought some things to light for people, and I hope that people who read them give a little more thought of their movie-going habits. But when it's all said and done, I love all of my customers, even if they're having a bad day, or are acting weird in public.”
More info: Imgur
And now something wholesome. We have this lovely old couple who come in every single day, and have seen every movie in our theater since I started here. She is an absolute treat to serve, and I love looking up movies for her and listening to her critique. She constantly asks me about how I am, how my husband is, how my cat is, tells me about herself, brings in cookies, the works. I love this woman dearly, and I always look forward to her visits.
So, a woman comes in, wants to see a movie, I think it was last year's Halloween release. Obviously rated R. Okay, sure, no problem, right? Wrong! My theater has this policy where if it's past 6pm, children under the age of 6 aren't allowed into rated R movies. And there is clearly an infant in the stroller. I go through my script, she's obviously not having it, gets into a yelling match with my manager, and plays the race card. No shame. The manager says to just let her go, so we do. We keep getting complaints about the child, but any time we try to kick them out, it's the same song and dance. Cut to the end of the movie. She comes out, all smug smiles, and says "sorry, he had a bit of an accident~" and flaunts away. We go in, and there is spit up. All. Over. Like, this kid covered 3-4 seats over all 6 rows in puke. It didn't even seem humanly possible! All I can say is honestly, the rules are there for a reason. Please, just follow them. Because now we use this story as an example on WHY you aren't allowed to bring your infant in.
For my last story, I decided to pick one that's really near and dear to my heart. This happened right after I was promoted to crew lead, and it was really demoralizing. So I'm working the opening of Into The Spiderverse. Lovely movie by the way, I love the style. These two larger women come up with their 4 combined children. They only have 4 tickets for the movie, all of them children's tickets. That's fine, we're in a mall after all. I direct them to their theater, and let them know politely that they can't stay in the theater past the starting time, since they don't have tickets. They give me the evil eye and walk away. At this point i notice they're spitting sunflower seeds all over the floor. I politely inform them they can't have those either. Which they obviously ignore. At this point I was learning when to pick my battles so I let it slide. They would be out of the theaters after getting their kids settled anyways. Or so I though. 20 minutes after the movie started, one of my ushers informed me they hadn't come back up. So I sent him back to get them while I stood and took tickets for him. He came back, followed by the women. They were spouting abuse in venomous whispered tones about how we "crackers" were discriminating against them. I just smiled and kept working. About 30 minutes later, they're back. They say they need to check on their kids and one of them has a ticket this time. Okay, that's fine. But no sunflower seeds. They ignore me, push past me, and just go right back. A customer comes up, and alerts me that upon entering the theater one of the women screamed "GET YOUR ASSES DOWN HERE YA GOIN' TO THE BATHROOM!" Obviously at this point it was well into the movie, and that wasn't okay. I went back and waited outside the theater, and escorted the ladies to the front. Again with more insults directed towards me, and claims I was racist. All the while the trail of sunflower seeds grew. At the ticket stand, I told them I would refund the ticket, but under no uncertain terms would they be allowed back there a third time, and they would need to wait in the lobby until the movie was over. They simply rolled their eyes and walked away. 20 more minutes passed, and they were back. I stood in the middle of the way and stated simply, "You are not allowed back into the theater. I informed you last time you left, and it still stands." They both shoved past me, and yelled "WE DON' GIVE A [DAMN] GET A MANAGER IF YOU WANT!" Which is exactly what I did. He went into the back and told them exactly what I just said. They were all smiles and sweetness to him, apologizing. Still leaving a trail of sunflower seeds on the floor. After he escorted them to the lobby, he went about his duties. At this point I had rotated to the concessions stand because they were a little swamped. These women make a beeline to me, and start yelling and calling me names and slurs and everything in between. I politely ask them to leave, which causes more yelling. One of my crew asks if they need to call security, which prompts the women to walk away, still yelling. Now, to this day, i'm not sure why, but this moment broke me. I went to the manager's office and asked, barely holding back tears, if I could go on break. He told me to take as long as I needed. So I went into the mall to get my food, thinking this was the end of it. I was wrong. They followed me through the mall, saying rude things, throwing seeds, the whole 9. Security couldn't do anything because they weren't doing it when they were looking. It was awful. I hid in the break room the rest of my 30 minutes, and cried. It got to me, it really did. The manager told me I should just go home, and i agreed. I called my husband to pick my up, and they were still out in the lobby. Waiting for me. My husband had to come in and walk me out. Please, always remember that customer service people are just that. People. Treat us like such. Never do this.
Hymeria’s host of strange and chuckle-worthy stories were a sensation on Imgur. Over 202,000 people read what she had to say and more than 8,185 thought it was awesome enough to upvote. What’s more, 769 internet users commented on the post, some of them sharing their own experiences of what working at a cinema is really like.
So, our theater had to give up its contract with the cleaning service near when I started to work there, which means not only am I crew lead, usher, and concessions, but now I'm janitorial and maintenance too. While they were trying to figure out how to make the times work, we did a couple week stint during the opening of Infinity War where we cleaned in the morning before opening. So I finish leaf blowing all the popcorn and trash to the bottom of the theater(you read that right. Leaf blowing. Greatest invention ever.) and there's this really difficult wad of napkins. At least, it looked like napkins in the dim light to my clinically blind butt. So I reach down,grab it, and am immediately hit with the smell and texture. I just grabbed, and accidentally squished in my hand, a human turd. What. The hell. Why? Why would anyone do this? Who hurt these people? So I stand up, yell to my coworker to grab disinfectant, and promptly go gag in the bathrooms while I scrub at my hands with some of our cleaner. That is when I learned the lesson to ALWAYS wear gloves when cleaning.
I honestly wasn't sure what meme to use for this one. This series of events baffles me to this day. I was doing my normal bathroom checks, making sure to make my presence known before opening the doors all the way so I didn't get a eyeful of a random customer's dong. Hearing no answers to my calls of "MAINTENANCE' I entered the restroom. Only to see a young boy, about 12 by my judging, kneeling in the stall. It sounded like he was sniffing. Against my better judgement, I decided to pull up my big girl pants and deal with this myself. I knocked on the side of the stall before going in, and was met with a scene straight out of a horror film. There knelt this kid, nose first into his own turd, squishing and sniffing it. I yelled "WHAT THE HELL" since, what else can you honestly do in that situation? He drops his log, starts crying, and runs out of the bathroom, not even washing his poopy hands, leaving an impressive handprint on the door that I would have to clean up. As I leave and block off the bathroom to get supplies, a woman stomps towards me, followed my the chocolate bandit. She starts SCREAMING at me for yelling at her son, saying that I was depriving him of his chance to get immunity to diseases from his own turds, and its the only way he can get antibodies because he wasn't vaccinated? I was dumbstruck. Bamboozled. Baffled. I could only blink and say "Ma'am. You have to leave." Thank god she did, cause I had no idea how I was going to explain this to security.
Now this one really annoys me. One of my coworkers has MS, and needs a service dog. He sits next to her wheelchair quietly unless she is threatened or stressed. But these kind of people buy a vest online, get their dog certified as an ESA, and call it good. ESAs and Service Animals are COMPLETELY different. ESAs are only covered under the Fair Housing Act, and that only covers them for housing and travel. They are NOT allowed in public space. Service Animals are specially trained to be in said public places. So this woman comes in, and as soon as I ask "Is your dog a registered Service Animal or and ESA?" she goes OFF. Screaming about discrimination and the like, saying we aren't allowed to ask that(spoiler alert, we are) and threatening the manager to call corporate. So, we let her in. Then we get complaints that the dog is roaming the theater, barking, trying to take people's food, and finally, urinated and pood all over the carpeted walkway. So, we go to eject her. And she screams the whole way out about discrimination. Don't do this. Never do this. Keep your ESAs or unregistered animals at home.
There are some unexpected downsides to working at a movie theater (besides the ones Hymeria mentioned): life isn’t always as sweet as caramel popcorn.
For example, Odyssey warns that you might get to watch movies for free or at a discount because you’re a staff member, but odds are, you won’t take advantage of it as much as you’d like. For one, you might get sick of films quite quickly; and secondly, who wants to go to work on their days off?
About a year ago, I was helping do the evening deep clean of theaters to prepare them for the next day. We were waiting for Teen Titans Go to get out so we could clean it, so I went and waited in the theater, down on the walkway out of everyone's way and view. Well, as the lights come back up after it ends, this kid starts straddling the banister for the stairs. Keep in mind, at their highest these are almost 15 ft up. I immediately say "Please get down you might hurt yourself!" That's when the kid hits me with the above statement, and his mom says "Yeah, he doesn't have to listen to a dirty janitor!" Okay lady, I warned ya! Not even 5 seconds after I turn my back, I hear a yelp, followed by a thud, and then ear splitting crying. I turn around and run to the kid while his mother is still trying to get down the stairs, and make sure nothing looks broken. He seems fine, just had the wind knocked out of him. His mother runs up, picks him up, and screams at me. Because that's my fault. All tight lady.
Honestly, this should be common sense. I hate having to tell people they have to put their food into their car or toss it. But it is policy, and I can get in trouble if I don't. I really personally don't mind if people bring their own food in. I get it, prices suck. I know. We're situated in a mall with a Target and food court, and its all so tempting. But don't be like these following examples.
1. Brought a whole watermelon into the theater. I thought nothing of it. Until I found said watermelon, cracked in half and scooped out, sitting on a seat.
2. A family meal from KFC. Spread out over 2 rows. With baby's mashed tatos smeared into the cloth seats. At least they used the personal bag trick?
3. Ice cream. We get it, during summer this is a must have. But don't leave it cone up, ice cream first IN THE CUP HOLDER.
This one is a classic among my coworker. So here I am, sweeping the lobby, when this angry, red faced man comes storming out of the men's room. He locks on to me with his bulging eyes and starts screaming enough to give any drill sergeant a run for their money. After managing to calm him down a little, I finally can get the story. Apparently, this man went into the disabled stall to take care of his business. Upon finding no toilet paper with which to clean himself, he makes a decision. Instead of asking the other gentleman in the restroom to pass him some tp, he decides his best course of action is to crawl, pants still down, through the locked out of order stall, and into the third stall. Now, the reason the second stall is out of order is because someone flushed and entire roll of toilet paper down it with their leavings, so it was honestly gross. But the way this man described it was like he was Shawshank Redemption sewer crawling through rivers of poo while the toilet erupted next to him like Vesuvius itself. All while still naked from the waist down. I honestly wasn't sure what to say besides apologize for the inconvenience. He just yelled something about suing for sanitation violations and left.
What’s more, customers expect you to be a real movie guru or a genius film critic when you probably just wanted a temp job for the season. So it’s in your interest to ward off angry cinephiles by brushing up on your trivia. Or just have a scroll through IMDb, memorize the summaries, and say them out loud in a booming, dramatic voice.
So we get really strong winds here, and sometimes stuff happens, and we get outages on our card reading service. Most customers are understanding, but some, not so much. it doesn't help that the people who are in charge of our ATMs refuse to visit more than once a week, and during busy weekends they're only usable one day, and then are out for the rest of the week. This is one of those times. A man comes in, a man whose entire family is known to us for various reasons, none of them good. He comes up, orders, and I inform him that sadly, our card service is down so he will have to use cash, and i am deeply sorry for the inconvenience. This is absolutely unacceptable for him. He proceeds to tell me he won't pay the full amount then, and only how much it costs to make the product. He owns a small business, don't I know, and he knows that everything would only cost about $5.20 in total if it weren't for pesky things like labor costs and service taxes. We tell him we're sorry, we can't do that, and he continues screaming. While i'm busy with him, i don't notice his son taking the water bottles and booking it. In the end, he sighed and took out cash and paid for his soda cups, then left. Needless to say he's on the "no service" list now. The rest of his large, annoying family, however, are not. I could fill a novel just on this one family, if I'm being honest. But this is the most recent story that I have from them.
Super Troopers is a pretty big deal in the stoner community, or so I'm told. Well, the second one was no different. It released on, you guessed it, 4/20. Of COURSE it was the must see stoner movie of the year. And of course, we got a lot of them. My theater is in a generally small-ish town, but we're one of only 2 in the STATE, and our service area even extends past out northern border into Canada. So you can imagine it was sold out opening night. Well, some people just can't wait to smoke, so in a theater check we walk in and it's absolutely FILLED with smoke. We aired it out as best we could without bothering the patrons, booted the smoking ones, and did our best to deal with it till closing. Fair to say, we all were a tiny bit high that night.
Where I live, there's a Native Reserve. Now, I have no problems with them, they seem genuinely okay for the most part. But they are the most ENTITLED customers I have ever had. Everything is "discount" this or "reimbursement" that. Didn't like the movie? Demand a refund after watching the whole thing. Oh, this popcorn is stale, give me a new one! Even though I personally poured the popcorn straight from the kettle, still hot and sizzling at their request. The ones that really get me are this family that comes in constantly. They drop like $400 every week here, and they are NEVER happy. The mother refuses to sign up for a membership, but then claims they have one. When i put in the number to humor her, it shows there's no members. Instead of trying a new number, an email, or just letting it go, she instead says "oh sorry right, my niece said you're the 'slow' one" and then repeats the number. Very. Slooooooowly. Now, I have Aspergers(Or whatever its called now) but I am fully functional on my own. So this is very offensive. So I transferred them to another till and got a manager, who told them they had to leave. On another occasion, the father called to me, after we were closed, and did the whole "pshpshpshpsh" thing and snapped his fingers like I was a cat. Please never do this.
We get this a LOT. For some reason I will never understand, people will travel to my city from everywhere else in the states. It's not a big city, there's not a lot to do, and its certainly not a vacation hotspot. But we will get a near constant stream of these people during the holidays. And it's always "why is it so expensive here, you can't charge me that much! Other city doesn't even charge half that!" I hate it, you hate it, we all hate it. I don't want to charge this much either, but these are the prices. Arguing won't lower them. Coincidentally, the reason that concession prices are so high is simple. Movie theaters don't get any of the revenue from the first 2-3 months that a movie is in. They get all their profit from snacks. The more you know!
This is my manager's story, not mine, but a lot of people wanted to hear it, so here it is! My manager has been in this job a lot longer than I have, and he's seen some [crap]. But nothing will ever beat the release of 50 Shades Of Grey. Let me set the scene. You're a late 20s usher, and you have to go clean the theater that previously housed about 200 horny women aged in their 20 to 50s. You open the door. Your glasses IMMEDIATELY fog up from the humidity. The smell is akin to rotting tuna fish after 3 days in the sun in an open market in a mid-summer Korea. There are various implements of self pleasure EVERYWHERE. Some aren't even made for that. There's toothbrushes, cucumbers, bananas. All of it just LOOKS sticky. And you have to clean this before the next set. And boy did my manager clean it. And then most likely went home and rocked in a cold shower. I wholeheartedly believe this event contributed to his insomnia.
Another story from a coworker. Apparently around the same time the 50 Shades debacle was happening, there was a new craze. You'd pull out your disgusting lady cork, and instead of placing it in the provided trash receptacles, fling it onto the ceiling with all your might. This happened almost daily for a good while before it stopped. I am so happy I didn't work here around this time.