Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
We were finally seeing Knives Out. Plus, this was a date. My wife conspired with the in-laws to take the boy out for food and fun. Excited and genuinely glad to have avoided any possible spoilers after so long, we made our way to the theater in the mall with smiles on our faces.
And then we hit the wall.
It was not exactly a solid barrier, but it was a pretty large sized mass of humans lined up just inside the doors at the mall theater. “Well excrement!” I thought. Only I did not think “excrement”.
Initially, I blamed myself. I have this compulsion about planning cinema jaunts. Friends and family members have suffered due to my deep need to treat any visit to the cinema like a logistical task on the level of the Normandy Invasion.
On this particular Saturday, I had actually let my guard down and relaxed. My mistake, and now we were paying for it. There were fifteen minutes until the show started and there was a good chance we were not going to make the start time.
As a sidebar, let us agree that movies do not start right away. There are trailers. I know it. You know it. But I like trailers. I want to see them.
Then I realized this was not on me. This was on the theater. Regal has recently changed their policy. Everyone goes to the same line to get tickets and concessions now that visitors pick their seats. We had encountered this before when we had seen Rise of Skywalker, but we had attributed that to a blockbuster opening weekend. For that movie, we had already advanced purchased the tickets, so it was just about the food. And we had a half-hour that time.
My wife and I decided to split the team. I went outside to purchase the tickets from the automated teller while she stayed inside to wait out the line. I would either get the tickets or join her if she hit the front of her line first.
As I was standing in my line, musing about how automated tellers are really only a convenience if the people using them are smart enough to know where they want to sit, a woman behind me said aloud “Why do they do this?”
“It is all part of an exciting new plan to discourage business,” I joked.
Then we talked about the obvious cynicism of it all. This smelled of a decision from the head office. It was clearly a ploy to force us by the concession stand. Food mark-ups are where theaters make a lot of cash. That was counterintuitive, though. These lines would discourage customers, particularly those with lots of children who do not do lines well. Or it may encourage people to smuggle in even more food.
I thought about other ways for corporate to make this worse. Maybe they could have us guess what time the movies were playing. Or, only show films in Esperanto. Or, just have random, dangerous animals moving through the lines. Y’know, something that really expressed their true contempt for us.
The plan worked. I did get the tickets and my wife got the food, but we missed the beginning of the film. I complained to everyone I saw as we moved on, but did so nicely. “Tell your manager to tell the head office,” I said, because it was not their fault.
Knives Out turned out to be a lot of fun. You should see it. But go about a half-hour earlier than normal.