Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Open letter to moviegoers—and theaters

As a movie reviewer I probably spend more time in theaters than the average person. As a movie reviewer who—writing being a far from lucrative occupation—spent years working in theaters as well, I can guarantee that statement. In those capacities over the years, I’ve learned an awful lot about movie houses, how they work, what they do right, and what they do wrong. And I’ve also gotten a pretty good sense of what audiences do and don’t understand about how theaters work.

Essentially, there are two types of theaters—independents and corporate. In Asheville we have two independent theaters (the Fine Arts and The Carolina) and three corporate theaters (Beaucatcher, Biltmore Grande, Carmike). If you want to throw second-run theaters into the mix, we have Asheville Pizza and Brewing (independently owned) and the Cinebarre (owned by the same corporation—Regal Entertainment Group—that owns the Beaucatcher and the Biltmore Grande). From a viewer standpoint the distinction may seem unimportant, but it isn’t when you factor everything in.

First of all, the two theaters we look to for less mainstream, so-called “art house” fare are the independents. Corporate theaters only latch onto the highest profile, sure-fire art titles like The King’s Speech or Black Swan in an attempt to reap the benefits of the audience the independents cater to 52 weeks out of the year. You didn’t see Mother, Micmacs, I Am Love, Barney’s Version, The Illusionist, A Single Man, A Serious Man, Get Low, or anything like those films opening at a corporate theater. The only exceptions—apart from the gravy train titles—occur when there’s simply a lack of available product for their screens. (This is particularly true with the Beaucatcher and the Carmike, since their proximity to each other forbids them offering the same titles,)

Second, the independents are both more involved with and responsive to the community. For example, the Fine Arts plays host to the Asheville Filmmakers Group and the Jewish Film Festival. They were also a prime venue for the now-deceased Asheville Film Festival, and have frequently showcased screenings of works by local filmmakers. Similarly, The Carolina sponsors the Asheville Film Society (and, yes, I am the artistic director of that and as such am not a disinterested party), played host to the locally-grown Ricochet Film Festival, and offers frequent free events. But more, both theaters respond to requests and pay attention to understanding the local market in ways that corporate theaters aren’t equipped or allowed to do. The local manager of a corporate theater has little or no input when it comes to booking a film. The independents have an actual local presence and that matters.

That’s essentially what I have to say to moviegoers. Theaters are another matter altogether—not that I expect more than a couple of people in a position to take any of this to heart to read it.

Where to begin with this? OK, let’s start with the over-regimentation of theaters. In far too many instances, theaters are enamored of a model that they insist on sticking to—even if it’s outlived its usefulness (assuming it ever existed). Dressing your employees in demeaning costumes is, frankly, not cool. If you do insist on this, then at the very least don’t buy the cheapest, crummiest product you can find to dress those employees in.

Also, understand that employees are neither robots, nor are they parrots—and, in my experience, theater patrons want neither one. At one point not long ago, the patron at one theater was likely to hear the same ingrained phrase three times—box office, concession stand, theater entrance—before they actually made it to their movie. Really? No one wants this. It’s inane. Customers aren’t idiots and this treats them like they are. Your best bet lies in employees who are outgoing, helpful, friendly—and who don’t look like they’d rather be any place else on earth than in your theater. The best employee is a knowledgeable employee. Actively encourage your employees to see the movies that are showing in your theater. Don’t make it hard for them to do this—and by this I mean don’t forbid them to sit through the quality check screenings and don’t tell them they can’t see movies on opening weekend. You and I both know that you don’t sell every seat the house.

On the whole, moviegoers like the personal touch—not the pre-programmed one. If you have regular patrons, get the employees to recognize them and greet them as individuals and not as Joe Ticket-buyer. This isn’t hard to do and a pleasant face that remarks on being glad to see someone again (just be sure they actually have and aren’t saying it to just everybody) costs you nothing and makes the cutomer feel like you care.

Then let’s look at what are called “theater checks.” For the uninitiated, this is the business of having an employee walk down the aisle as ostentatiously as possible and pretend to check the exit door and maybe the thermostat. In theory, this is supposed to occur every 30 minutes. Well, guess what? It’s intrusive and distracting. Most everything the employee needs to know can be learned from the back of the theater. But here’s the catch—at least with coroporate theaters—if the employee isn’t highly visible, he or she is not going to draw the attention of that most-beloved of corporate money-wasters, the “mystery shopper,” and that gets the theater a black mark on their score sheet. So this down-the-aisle performance has little or nothing to do with theater patrons.

Here’s the catch to the whole idea: “Mystery shoppers” are unreliable at best. I’ve even seen reports that contained outright lies, such as describing non-existent employees. On one memorable occasion, I saw one that was apparently filed by persons who hadn’t actually been to the theater in question. The tickets stapled to the report had not been issued by that theater—something that escaped the notice of home office. The corporate mindset, however, is that the “mystery shoppers” are taken at their word. Come on, guys, for one thing these “shoppers” work like middle-management. In other words, they are determined to find fault in order to “prove” they’re doing their jobs—and justify their continued existence.

Let’s also consider movie scheduling. Now, I realize that it’s impractical for multiplexes to schedule movies without staggering them. If you have multiple screens, you cannot have everything start at the same time without creating chaos and a bottleneck that makes no one happy. There’s also the basic consideration of (usually) four shows a day (movies over 100 minutes) and five shows a day (movies under 100 minutes). Those considerations are reasonable enough.

Other considerations are less reasonable. One corporate group has opted to approach the films strictly as product and the audience as being comprised of uninformed viewers who go to this generic thing called “the movies.” The ideal here is to have a movie starting every five minutes, which is why it’s called the “five minute plan.” (I guess it’s like the old Soviet “five year plans” only shorter.) The notion is the audience will simply buy a ticket to whatever is starting next. Seriously? The viewer who came to see The King’s Speech is going to go see Gnomeo & Juliet because it starts next?

Here’s the thing, though, even allowing for the reasonable considerations, theaters would be well-advised to set their times and stick to them for the run of the engagement. OK, if your theater opening time changes, that’s understandably going to need dealing with. Similarly, if a film ends up being split with another title, time changes are inescapable. But otherwise, the business of massaging the times is counter-productive—especially, if you move them backwards. Why? For the simple fact that people might look at last week’s paper—a particular consideration on Fridays, when the viewer might well have gotten the times last night, If that movie that started yesterday at 1 p.m. suddenly starts today at 12:45, you risk a disappointed—possibly angry—customer. If you have to move it, move it ahead and then you’ve only inconvenienced the customer. Better still, though, leave the times of the older titles alone whenever possible and adjust the new titles to suit them.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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56 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Open letter to moviegoers—and theaters

  1. luluthebeast

    We must not have mystery shoppers here in Green Bay (we have two Marcus Theaters and a couple of indies) as I hardly ever see an usher after the previews start, and then they only peek in for a second.

    I second the motion on uniforms. Yesterday there was a young lady helping out behind the candy counter, obviously called in at the last minute to help as she wore not the uniform, but tight black jeans and a very low-cut tight top. Golly-gee, I had to buy a second box of raisinets to go with my diet dew!

  2. Steph

    My biggest problem is having to watch 20 minutes of commercials after I’ve paid $10 for a ticket! Even the commercials have commercials!

    Unfortunately, I guess it’s a sign of the times since there are video screens everywhere you look nowadays and we’re constantly being bombarded by ads.

    I used to go the movies 1-2 times a week but now I go about 5-6 times a year. This is partly due to the crappy movies that take over 3 screens at a multiplex and the outrageous pricing for said crappy movies.

  3. Ken Hanke

    We must not have mystery shoppers here in Green Bay (we have two Marcus Theaters and a couple of indies) as I hardly ever see an usher after the previews start, and then they only peek in for a second.

    You may not. They’re not so beloved by indies and I’m not familiar with Marcus. The fact that they have Pepsi products pretty much tells me they’re not affiliated in any way with Regal or Carmike.

    she wore not the uniform

    If she had worn one, what would it have been?

  4. Ken Hanke

    My biggest problem is having to watch 20 minutes of commercials after I’ve paid $10 for a ticket!

    Yes, but those 20 minutes of commercials are replacing the slides that used to run before the movie and don’t start at the listed showtime, do they?

    This is partly due to the crappy movies that take over 3 screens at a multiplex and the outrageous pricing for said crappy movies.

    When I started reviewing an evening price here was $7.75. Now, it’s $9.75. That doesn’t seem all that outrageous of an increase to me over the course of 10 years. I freely concede the crappy movie part and would also say that the movies overall have not gotten $2 a ticket worth of better.

  5. luluthebeast

    If she had worn one, what would it have been?

    A black faux tux sort of thing with a white pleated shirt. Not too bad, but not near as nice as the low-cut, tight top!

  6. Ken Hanke

    A black faux tux sort of thing with a white pleated shirt. Not too bad

    How would you like to wear it?

  7. My biggest problem is having to watch 20 minutes of commercials after I’ve paid $10 for a ticket! Even the commercials have commercials!

    I have found that the Carolina has the least amount of ads after showtime.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I have found that the Carolina has the least amount of ads after showtime.

    That’s likely true. I know the ads at the Carmike run about five minutes into the showtime.

  9. luluthebeast

    How would you like to wear it?

    Believe me now when I say I’ve worn much worse in the restaurant business!

  10. DrSerizawa

    I always show up to a movie house at start time. It gives me time to buy tickets and get some popcorn and get seated without having to endure all the promo. Though I find the commercials are often more entertaining than the annoying trivia slides they put up. And I don’t mind missing a trailer or two since they seem to give away the entire movie these days.

    Corporations seem to forget that they need to respect the customer if they want the customer to respect them. When they try to play manipulative games, like forcing every employee to smile like an idiot and say “Thank you for choosing Carmike enjoy the show”, they only annoy me. I know that people usually aren’t enthusiastic about minimum wage jobs. Just be professional and courteous and forget the canned speeches. They make me feel like I’m standing in the middle of an offshore call center.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Believe me now when I say I’ve worn much worse in the restaurant business!

    Which doesn’t keep the whole costume thing from being demeaning.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I always show up to a movie house at start time. It gives me time to buy tickets and get some popcorn and get seated without having to endure all the promo. Though I find the commercials are often more entertaining than the annoying trivia slides they put up.

    My problem with that approach for me is that the older I get, the harder it is to be quite certain I’m not about to sit on someone once the lights go down. The commercials — called “preshow entertainment” — are merely a sophisticated (roughly speaking) outgrowth of the dumb slides.

    And I don’t mind missing a trailer or two since they seem to give away the entire movie these days.

    To really get sick of trailers, you should go as often as I do. It’s also a bit like an often depressing reading by a psychic telling my fortune.

    Corporations seem to forget that they need to respect the customer if they want the customer to respect them.

    Face it, by and large, corporations think the customer is a clueless boob.

    When they try to play manipulative games, like forcing every employee to smile like an idiot and say “Thank you for choosing Carmike enjoy the show”, they only annoy me.

    I do like it when I get someone on door who doesn’t know me. Responding to “enjoy the show” with “You can’t make me” or “That remains to be seen” tends to throw them off.

  13. I would be more than willing to pay an extra $4 a ticket if they could lose the goddamn commercials from the front of the picture.

    For a brief period, I got there late to avoid the ads, but I missed the start of one film so have gone back to turning up at start time and sitting through all the dross.

    I can go down to levels and buy a film on DVD for around $10 – $15, which I can watch with no ads before the film. I spend $17.50 to see something in the cinema, I’d prefer it not to be preceded by ads for the local Italian restaurant, South Australian tourism and car insurance.

  14. I really see no reason to go back to a movie theater until Feel-Around is brought back. That was the only way to see a film.

    See you next Wednesday.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I would be more than willing to pay an extra $4 a ticket if they could lose the goddamn commercials from the front of the picture

    I don’t think you’d get much audience support on that. The standard party line you get over here is that your ticket would be a dollar more without it. Of course, your tickets in Australia make ours look like a bargain anyway.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I really see no reason to go back to a movie theater until Feel-Around is brought back. That was the only way to see a film.

    I believe it’s called “Grope-around” now.

  17. Of course, your tickets in Australia make ours look like a bargain anyway.
    I can only imagine the stratospheric levels they will reach if this appalling day-and-date scheme gets off the ground.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I can only imagine the stratospheric levels they will reach if this appalling day-and-date scheme gets off the ground.

    What scheme is this? Over here “day and date” only means a bunch of theaters open a film on the same day.

  19. What scheme is this? Over here “day and date” only means a bunch of theaters open a film on the same day.
    I’ve heard it used to refer to the idea of a film coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray/streaming on the same date as in cinemas.

  20. DrSerizawa

    My problem with that approach for me is that the older I get, the harder it is to be quite certain I’m not about to sit on someone once the lights go down.

    Yes, that’s a curse that reviewers have to face. But I never go on opening weekend. I learned to wait a week or two when I lived in Hollywood cause standing in line for 2 hours isn’t worth it. Unless you are going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in 70mm.

  21. I’ve heard it used to refer to the idea of a film coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray/streaming on the same date as in cinemas.

    That’s what we use the term for in our business.

    So far, only smaller companies have used day and date. A couple of the heavy hitters (Disney, and most recently, Warners) have mentioned releasing a film the same day for theater/dvd/VOD. They immediately get threatened by the theater association. Will they have the guts to take them on?

  22. Ken Hanke

    Yes, that’s a curse that reviewers have to face. But I never go on opening weekend.

    Even if I go on Friday morning — a far from happening set — I seem to have a knack for picking an already occupied seat. So if I arrive post pre-show, I find myself having to wait for a trailer with explosions to be sure there’s no one there.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Which 3-D theater is doing this? I want it for RANGO

    Anxious for a good gecko grope?

  24. Ken Hanke

    So far, only smaller companies have used day and date. A couple of the heavy hitters (Disney, and most recently, Warners) have mentioned releasing a film the same day for theater/dvd/VOD. They immediately get threatened by the theater association. Will they have the guts to take them on?

    I rarely agree with NATO, but in this case I do. This has got to be amonth the worst ideas ever to come down the pike. It makes no sense whatever from a business standpoint for either distributor, or exhibitor. Even the often discussed idea of selling the DVDs in the lobby isn’t wholly rational. Think about it — say, you see a movie and you like it. With the current model, you go tell your friends — or maybe you even take them to see it. That’s more ticket sales and more potential concession sales. This kind of repeat business is the very cornerstone of the $100 million-plus blockbuster. Now, with this concept, you buy the movie — say $15 — and instead of taking your friends to see it, you simply have them over. This is not a good business model.

  25. I rarely agree with NATO, but in this case I do. This has got to be amonth the worst ideas ever to come down the pike.

    I strongly disagree. The NATO organization has been feeding a doom and gloom scenario for years.

    What they don’t seem to realize is that the movie-going experience is an experience, a lot of times it doesn’t matter what people see. I believe that they will get the repeat business anyway. Many people have abandoned frequenting theaters for the reasons you mention plus much more, why hasn’t the box office collapsed from losing customers?

    Look on any bit torrent site and you will see the staggering number of people downloading a new film. This is often a day or two after it has been released in a theater. Billions of dollars are already being lost, why not try to recoup some of that?

    The window is already four months, I say make it shorter.

  26. Ken Hanke

    What they don’t seem to realize is that the movie-going experience is an experience, a lot of times it doesn’t matter what people see.

    Gee, it sounds like you also agree with the Carmike idea that the viewer is totally uninformed and doesn’t care and will go see whatever’s starting next.

    We are never going to agree on the wisdom of this same-day idea. It’s not strictly NATO. I don’t know a single exhibitor who doesn’t find it counter-productive. I can’t name one film that has gone this route and had a really successful theatrical run.

  27. john r

    I have to mention one of my pet peeves is the pre-movie commercials that certain chains play. They seem to be so loud and flashy that it is impossible to talk with the person you are sharing the movie with. Could the volume please be lowered until the previews begin. The repeated assault of computer generated figures making their way to the concession stand on skateboards, or flying saucers at unsafe decibel readings has made me arrive about 10 minutes after the scheduled start time. This means that I never hit the concession stand, and pay for the exhorbitantly expensive snacks. I always enjoyed coming to the AFS screenings early, visiting with (or making new) friends, and having Richard deliver a beer when the movie starts, Kudos Justin and Ken.

  28. Ken Hanke

    I have to mention one of my pet peeves is the pre-movie commercials that certain chains play. They seem to be so loud and flashy that it is impossible to talk with the person you are sharing the movie with.

    Theoretically, that stuff is supposed to be at a lower volume. It’s also — in my experience behind the scenes — not something where the theater itself controls the volume, which is set by the company piping this “entertainment” in.

    I always enjoyed coming to the AFS screenings early, visiting with (or making new) friends, and having Richard deliver a beer when the movie starts, Kudos Justin and Ken.

    We were sorry to lose you to the midwest. I’m glad to see you’re still occasionally perusing the Xpress site.

  29. Mike

    The repeated assault of computer generated figures making their way to the concession stand on skateboards, or flying saucers at unsafe decibel readings has made me arrive about 10 minutes after the scheduled start time. This means that I never hit the concession stand, and pay for the exhorbitantly expensive snacks.

    I do pretty much the same, except I try for five minutes after start time just to be on the safe side. However, this has just as much to do with avoiding trailers that reveal way too much than anything else, since most of what informs my viewing choices comes by way of film blogs or just knowing who directed the film.

    The Carolina does get my concession money on the rare occasion I decide to catch a double feature though (the Cliff Bar and bottled water I “smuggle” in doesn’t satisfy for two movies); panini sandwiches and tap beers are refreshments well worth what other theatres (I’m looking at you Beaucatcher/Carmike) grossly overcharge for ridiculously dry, over-salted popcorn.

  30. Ken Hanke

    The Carolina does get my concession money on the rare occasion I decide to catch a double feature though (the Cliff Bar and bottled water I “smuggle” in doesn’t satisfy for two movies); panini sandwiches and tap beers are refreshments well worth what other theatres (I’m looking at you Beaucatcher/Carmike) grossly overcharge for ridiculously dry, over-salted popcorn.

    I actually eat at The Carolina twice a week and the food is quite good. I don’t think I’ve had anything I didn’t like — leaving out anything involving hummus, which I find vile in any capacity. Since I really don’t drink anymore, I mostly admire the tap selection from afar, but any theater with Guinness on tap is okay by me. That said, I take solace in the array of soda choices — Cheerwine, Sundrop, Dad’s Root Beer, RC, and Canada Dry Ginger Ale are not to be sneezed at in a world usually only populated by Coke products. Now, if only they’d work fancy coffees into the mix — I mean mochas and lattes, etc. — I’d be even happier.

  31. luluthebeast

    Now that is a great mix of soda and food, you can’t even get Cheerwine up here! I can get a pretty good latte at Marcus though. As far as the uniforms go, I don’t find wearing one demeaning unless it’s really stupid! At my restaurant the uniform was khaki slacks or skirts with a blue button-down shirt.

    I don’t like the commercials, but I put up with them just to get a decent seat. With braces on both legs, if I can’t get to a comfortable area it’s not worth staying for the movie.

  32. Ken Hanke

    As far as the uniforms go, I don’t find wearing one demeaning unless it’s really stupid!

    If it involves a bow-tie, isn’t actual formal wear and you’re not Orville Reddenbacher, it’s demeaning. If it also involves a cheap-ass vest, it’s not only demeaning, it’s verging on fetishistic. If they require you to provide a white dress shirt to go with it, black pants and shoes, it’s that much worse. At least, that’s my take on the matter.

  33. BigAl

    Complaining about uniforms is laughable compared to having to look at lip, nose and eyebrow piercings at the Fine Arts Theatre concessions. Can I get a side of Phenergan with my popcorn?

  34. bill thomas

    This is totally random, but are you really as red as the thumbnail photo at RT? Any desire to update that image?

  35. LYT

    “I don’t think you’d get much audience support on that. The standard party line you get over here is that your ticket would be a dollar more without it. Of course, your tickets in Australia make ours look like a bargain anyway.”

    Here in Hollywood, we have a theater called the Arclight that does precisely that – slightly pricier tickets, no commercials (just 5 min of trailers), seat assignments, and they won’t sell you a ticket if you’re more than five minutes late.

    It’s a 14-plex, and it does very well. They also have two bars, and 21+ screenings where you can bring beer in.

    That said, the ushers there are required to give you a spiel before each movie, but it’s less offensive than a big-screen ad telling you the same stuff (run-time, tell the usher if there’s a problem, turn off cell phones, etc.)

  36. Ken Hanke

    Complaining about uniforms is laughable compared to having to look at…

    You obviously miss the point. I’m not complaining about having to look at the uniforms, but about the employees being made to wear them.

  37. Ken Hanke

    This is totally random, but are you really as red as the thumbnail photo at RT?

    When I first saw this, I thought politics were being questioned. In answer to your question, no, not quite.

    Any desire to update that image?

    I didn’t put that one there. That appears to have been blown up from an old Asheville Film Festival programme. I’d be more than happy to change it, but I have no idea how to go about it.

  38. Ken Hanke

    Here in Hollywood, we have a theater called the Arclight that does precisely that – slightly pricier tickets, no commercials (just 5 min of trailers), seat assignments, and they won’t sell you a ticket if you’re more than five minutes late.

    But is it $4 a ticket slightly higher? I mean, here that would make tickets jump from $9.75 to $13.75. I doubt the market would bear an increase of that size. Aside from which, there’s real time and there’s Asheville time. The latter seems to work on the belief that 7 p.m. means “somewhere around 7:10-7:15.”

    It’s a 14-plex, and it does very well. They also have two bars, and 21+ screenings where you can bring beer in.

    Well, The Carolina has two bars (beer and wine), but I’m a little confused by that last bit. Do you mean no alcohol is allowed into the other screenings?

    That said, the ushers there are required to give you a spiel before each movie, but it’s less offensive than a big-screen ad telling you the same stuff (run-time, tell the usher if there’s a problem, turn off cell phones, etc.)

    How is this done? An overall announcement? Or do they tell each patron or group of patrons?

    .

  39. luluthebeast

    If it also involves a cheap-ass vest, it’s not only demeaning, it’s verging on fetishistic.

    Hey now! I wear a vest every single day! Are you implying I have a fetish?

  40. Ken Hanke

    Hey now! I wear a vest every single day! Are you implying I have a fetish?

    Do you force others to wear them? That’s the question.

  41. luluthebeast

    Do you force others to wear them? That’s the question.

    Only Mr. Peepers. Too bad you can’t post photos here!

  42. Ken Hanke

    Only Mr. Peepers. Too bad you can’t post photos here!

    How about wearing chaps with nothing else?

  43. luluthebeast

    How about wearing chaps with nothing else?

    Don’t want to scare and/or disgust some of the people!

  44. Ken Hanke

    Don’t want to scare and/or disgust some of the people!

    That never stopped you before.

  45. Bill Thomas

    :I didn’t put that one there. That appears to have been blown up from an old Asheville Film Festival programme. I’d be more than happy to change it, but I have no idea how to go about it.”

    OK, I sent a message to rottentomatoes.com shaming them for appropriating your photo and not correcting the color. I suggested they contact you directly at your e-dress to instruct you how to proceed to replace the photo. I have no doubt you’ll never get a response unless they get 1000 requests. So, round up the usual suspects….

  46. LYT

    “But is it $4 a ticket slightly higher?”

    It was when it started. Then every other chain quickly rose to meet its increase, though not with the same added perks. Now it’s more like $2-$3 higher.

    “Well, The Carolina has two bars (beer and wine), but I’m a little confused by that last bit. Do you mean no alcohol is allowed into the other screenings?”

    Yes, exactly. They control it by not letting anyone under 21 into those specific screenings.

    “How is this done? An overall announcement? Or do they tell each patron or group of patrons?”

    The usher steps to the front of the auditorium, says “Hi, how’s everyone doing? Awesome. You’re here to see Rango [for example], starring Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, with a running time of 110 minutes. We remind you that there’s no texting, talking, one of us will be watching to make sure the picture’s at top quality, come to us, if you have a problem, etc.” They end by saying something like, “And now, sit back, relax, enjoy Rango!” Sometimes the audience claps, sometimes not. Then the lights go down. This happens before EVERY show in the 14 plex.

  47. Ken Hanke

    I have no doubt you’ll never get a response

    Considering I have gotten one response from them in nine years…

  48. Ken Hanke

    It was when it started. Then every other chain quickly rose to meet its increase, though not with the same added perks. Now it’s more like $2-$3 higher.

    I think that’d be a hard sell in most places.

    Yes, exactly. They control it by not letting anyone under 21 into those specific screenings.

    Here it’s controlled by just not serving it to anyone under 21.

    They end by saying something like, “And now, sit back, relax, enjoy Rango!” Sometimes the audience claps, sometimes not. Then the lights go down. This happens before EVERY show in the 14 plex

    Matter of taste, I suppose. I think I prefer the canned variety, which I can shut out without being rude. I’d feel compelled to pay attention to a real person and I have (previously noted) strong dislike for anything that’s delivered by rote. I do like the idea of someone from the theater actually monitoring the entire show, but that would require an additional employee per theater.

  49. LYT

    I think they’d love to be able to serve booze in all theaters, but some kind of liquor law restriction keeps that from happening. Might be some rule about since they show PG and G movies as well, they can’t have it in every theater.

    I think employees are encouraged to deliver the opening spiel in their own words…I could do without, but prefer it to watching some trailer that I’ve seen 1000 times and is exactly the same.

    As someone who also works in a theater…I really wish patrons would volunteer upfront their preferred status of butter on or off the popcorn, without having to be asked every time. Like, do they not know this is something that’s gonna come up?

  50. Ken Hanke

    I think they’d love to be able to serve booze in all theaters, but some kind of liquor law restriction keeps that from happening. Might be some rule about since they show PG and G movies as well, they can’t have it in every theater.

    It’s probably a state or even city thing. There’s apparently nothing to prevent it here without concern for rating. What’s surprising about that is that NC normally has some of the most archaic blue laws around concerning alcohol.

    As someone who also works in a theater…I really wish patrons would volunteer upfront their preferred status of butter on or off the popcorn, without having to be asked every time. Like, do they not know this is something that’s gonna come up?

    I discovered many years ago that if you ask, “Would you like butter-flavored partially hydrogenated soy bean oil with anti-foaming agent on that?” that usually settles it. That — along with the temptation to say, “You understand we don’t make these movies, we only show them” — is one of the reasons it’s just as well I no longer work in a theater.

  51. HappyGirl

    Second, the independents are both more involved with and responsive to the community. For example, the Fine Arts plays host to the Asheville Filmmakers Group and the Jewish Film Festival. They were also a prime venue for the now-deceased Asheville Film Festival, and have frequently showcased screenings of works by local filmmakers. Similarly, The Carolina sponsors the Asheville Film Society (and, yes, I am the artistic director of that and as such am not a disinterested party), played host to the locally-grown Ricochet Film Festival, and offers frequent free events. But more, both theaters respond to requests and pay attention to understanding the local market in ways that corporate theaters aren’t equipped or allowed to do. The local manager of a corporate theater has little or no input when it comes to booking a film. The independents have an actual local presence and that matters.
    You also forgot to mention that the Biltmore Grande 15 host the Asheville Cinemas Society which is made possible by a local film maker. Funny how you conveniently left that out…

    My thing is if you want to run a theatre and call it “independent” you should run it outside of the corporate protocol. Just saying…

    I’ve worked for both types of theatres you’re referring to and each one has its own issues. Bottom line is no place of business is going to be able to satisfy every customer’s wants and needs.

  52. Ken Hanke

    You also forgot to mention that the Biltmore Grande 15 host the Asheville Cinemas Society which is made possible by a local film maker. Funny how you conveniently left that out…

    I don’t really consider that a group that at least tries to charge $400 for a season’s subscription is exactly giving anything to the community. That’s clearly a money-making venture.

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