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TOPIC: Teens loitering in lobby

Teens loitering in lobby 27 Feb 2006 19:25 #20633

  • Basecamp
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Hello. I am a new theatre owner in a small town. We've been open for three months, and we are experiencing a growing problem with loitering in the lobby. We live in an extremely cold climate, so it doesn't feel right to tell kids to beat it. However, kids are arriving up to 90 minutes early for films, and some aren't even sure they are going to see anything. We do not keep enough people on at one time to allocate a baby-sitter while others clean and work in the booth. Does anyone have any reasonable, not-too-mean solution? I am not looking forward to future arguments with parents in this small town.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 27 Feb 2006 22:40 #20634

  • outaframe
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This is a problem you need to deal with or they will end up driving away your adult business... People don't like entering a business where a bunch of teenie boppers are loitering... My doors are locked until half an hour before showtime, and those who enter must buy a ticket immediately... After they buy the ticket and get their concession items, they are asked politely to find a seat and sit in it... I do not allow them to hang out in the lobby... No exceptions!... If you don't allow them in, they won't be showing up 90 minutes early, especially in cold weather... It's your business and you set the rules... Don't let the boppers or their parents call the shots or they'll end up taking over the place...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited February 27, 2006).]
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 27 Feb 2006 23:27 #20635

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Are you running a movie theatre or a teen social center? You have to decide which, and then set your policies accordingly.

If you are worried about what the parents are going to say, and because of that fear, you let the teens overrun your theatre, you will NOT be in the theatre business a couple years from now.

Solving the problem may not be easy, but must be done. You have to be strict. You must set policies and stick to them. You MUST be in control.

I can suggest a number of things that you can do, but there is more information needed so that the suggestions pertain to your type of operation. Please provide the following information. Are you a multiplex or a single screen? Do you have a video arcade either off the lobby or games in the lobby? Do you have a sitdown area in the lobby for people with food? Where do you take tickets... immediately after the box office or just before entering the auditorium(s)?

If you are a single screen, it will be fairly easy, but if a multiplex, it will not be as easy, but can still be done.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 27 Feb 2006 23:35 #20636

  • RoxyVaudeville
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When I started my previous post, you had not received any answers, but when my response was posted I saw that outaframe had beat me to the punch.

You can see that we are pretty much on the same page (as usual). He has already suggested some of the things that I would have said, but if you supply the info I requested I'll add more.

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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 27 Feb 2006 23:41 #20637

  • Ken Layton
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A good manager will take charge and put those kids in their place.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 28 Feb 2006 01:48 #20638

  • Pieman
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May I remind you that even if someone is not a customer at the time, they may become one if treated right. If you start booting people on the street because its not convenient for you, they may well turn around and go somewhere else. Treat people well and they will flock. You look at these kids showing up as a nuisance whereas you should be looking at it as an opportunity to make your customers feel welcome whether they are spending money or not. We have kids come early to our shows and we often just go and chat to them. We also provide entertainment for them by way of a prize redemption game. We don't have a load of computer games to just eat their money, but they can win a prize. It also has the advantage that it keeps them occupied. If they do get boisterous and noisy, we simply ask them to keep it down. kids are not all evil and are one of our best customers. They see the most movies per year, they spend the most money at the candybar. If you treat them with respect, they will respect you back. If you jump down their throats everytime they show up, they aren't going to feel welcome or bother to behave themselves!!
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 28 Feb 2006 11:38 #20639

  • puzzlegut
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We also don't let people in until 30 mins before the first show. That way, you and your employees have plenty of time to get things ready before hand without having the kids getting in the way.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 28 Feb 2006 15:00 #20640

  • sevstar
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We also only open 30 min before the first show. Everything is ready to go, and staff are in place by then.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 28 Feb 2006 16:21 #20641

  • Basecamp
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Thanks for your replies. We are a 3 screen theatre. I am more in line with Pieman's philosophy of treating kids like the good customers they can be. Because of the staggered showtimes, a locked lobby won't work for us. I think our game plan will be: "Customers may enjoy the lobby 30 minutes before showtime." Any more advice on how to communicate to parents? This is such a small town, that I got hate mail from someone who did not like it when I asked to see their tickets! So I must approach the subject delicately...
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 28 Feb 2006 22:49 #20642

  • outaframe
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You can expect to receive flack from a certain percentage of your customers, it goes along with being in the biz... With a 3-screen, your "30 minutes lobby admittance before showtime" makes sense for those who BUY A TICKET... Enforce it without excepion and you shouldn't have any problems... If anyone complains, ask them if McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, local grocery stores, Walgreens, Walmart, or any other area stores allow teenagers to congregate and loaf aimlessly in their places of business... You can be sure that they DON'T for all the reasons we already know... There is NO REASON for you to allow this conduct either... You run your business to meet the needs of your CUSTOMERS, not the whims of a batch of bored kids...

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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 01 Mar 2006 03:24 #20643

  • jacker5
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Jake TenPas of Oregon’s Corvallis Gazette-Times wrote this and thought it fit well in this discussion.

Reel etiquette for
the really oblivious
by Jake TenPas

When it comes to commentary on movies, could you keep it to yourself?

There are certain rules of etiquette that you would think need never be said aloud. They’re just so obvious, so self-evident that even a diehard “Real World” fan should be able to figure them out on their own.

• You don’t play your music at top volume or stand in your front yard and scream after midnight.
• You don’t swear while sitting near families at sporting events.
• You don’t pour all the condiments into your water glass at restaurants and then dare your friends to drink it.
• You don’t sit in the left lane on the freeway doing 65 mph because that’s the speedlimit, and darn it, everybody ought to follow it. THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING ONLY. Understand?
Finally, when you go to the movie theater, you turn off your cell phone (this includes text messaging), you don’t sit in front of someone shorter than you and, most importantly, you keep your mouth shut good and tight. It really couldn’t be any simpler.

Nobody wants to hear what you have to say about the movie, not even your girlfriend, who pretends to be laughing when you make the oh-so-clever comment about the totally ripped Centaur.

Yes, doofus who sat behind me during “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” I’m talking to you.

Evidently, when the giant words came up on the screen before the movie asking you not to smoke, not to talk and to turn your cell phone off, you assumed that they were aimed at someone else.

Though I will thank you for not smoking. That was downright generous of you.

Also, thank you for not breakdancing, singing opera, urinating, shooting off firearms, practicing birdcalls, playing the game Simon, doing jumping jacks or setting off pipebombs.

After all, the pre-movie warnings didn’t specifically ask you not to do any of those things, and yet you were able to figure them out all on your own.

Kudos to you, sir.

Yet somehow, you decided it would be OK to maintain a monologue of sub-Nascar-announcer intelligence level throughout the entire motion picture. At one point, you even thought of a critique so witty that you had to lean over my girlfriend and yell it to your buddy sitting two rows below.

I can only wish that I had heard it, so that I might have had the hearty laugh you so selfishly kept to yourself and your dim-witted friend. Alas for missed opportunities.

Speaking of missed opportunities, it’s with increasing frequency that I hear the movie industry griping about the decline in theater receipts.

Hmmm, why wouldn’t people want to go to the theater?

Oh, right, maybe it’s because at home you don’t have to pay $7 for popcorn, get packed in like sardines and then have to listen to the dumbest human beings in the world rant relentlessly over the quietest, most delicate scenes in the movie because they’re not holding their attention.

The problem is, footage of a mushroom cloud set to a soundtrack by Cannibal Corpse and edited by Oliver Stone couldn’t hold these people’s attention.

If movie theater chains really want to rake in the dough, I suggest they go back to the way it used to be and start kicking people out who talk during the movie.

I know, it’s crazy to think that those ushers that stalk the perimeters of the movie theater like ineffectual border guards might do something beside watch for the sinister menace of food and drink not bought at the concession stand. In this instance, I don’t want to be sane.

What I want, is to be able to watch the movie I just paid $7.75 for, plus whatever I might have been extorted at the concession stand, without having to listen to some reject from Mystery Science Theater 3000 do his best imitation of an auctioneer snorting crushed No-Doz.

What I want is for parents to teach their kids the simplest of manners, and when they aren’t capable of that, movie theaters to step in and do it for them.

Until then, I’ll continue to have a few choice words for anybody who can’t figure it out for themselves. None of them will be “please.”

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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 01 Mar 2006 13:29 #20644

  • BurneyFalls
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I agree with everything the Corvallis writer wrote. Everyone should have those manners instilled in them from the time of their first theatre experience. But we all know that isn't happening in all families.

It doesn't sound like the writer told the punk to shut up, or even advised the management of the problem, though. I am not condoning the rude behavior at all. But, I think more theatre patrons should take a pro-active step toward curtailing this rudeness.

Yes, I read the other thread about someone getting charged for putting their hand on another patron while telling them to be quiet. But telling them to be quiet, is something that I don't have a problem with when I watch a movie.

Five young men sat in front of me last week at "Date Movie" in the megaplex 50 miles from here. Their banter went on incessantly until I had finally had enough. I told them to shut up. The ringleader and one of the others turned around and looked at me like I was from outer space. Even though I have twenty years of law enforcement experience behind me, I do not look threatening (maybe my voice still has a little authoritativeness), but for all they knew I was just a gray-haired, four-eyed, grandmother. Low and behold, they shut up for the rest of the movie. If they had not, I would have gone to the management and complained about their behavior. I think more of our good patrons need to do the same.

I encourage my patrons to come out and tell a staff person if there is any kind of disturbance in the auditorium as we cannot be in there all the time. Many times they do and we take appropriate action, including escorting the violator out. If a patron comes out and complains after the movie is over, I thank them for their comments and suggest that next time they tell us when it is happening so we can actually do something about it.

[This message has been edited by BurneyFalls (edited March 01, 2006).]
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 01 Mar 2006 15:15 #20645

  • puzzlegut
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I agree with you BurneyFalls. Patrons need to let theater employees know if there is a problem. There have been so many times when we have people tell us after the movie is over that there was a problem with disruptive people. I don't know what they expect us to do after the movie is over; it's kind of too late for us to tell them to stop so the person can enjoy the movie. Just like you said, we can't sit in the theater and babysit just to make sure people are behaving themselves.

We had a situation last week where a couple of people complained about a group of teens being very loud in the theater. My partner went in there and yelled at them (loud enough for everyone else in the theater to hear him) and told the group that if anyone else came out and complained about them, that they would be leaving. Despite the warning, after the movie ended, the man that came out earlier to complain about the group said the group wasn't any better throughout the movie and said we probably won't be seeing him again. It just makes me mad when people act like that.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 02 Mar 2006 00:48 #20646

  • RoxyVaudeville
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In the original post Basecamp said "We've been open for three months, and we are experiencing a growing problem with loitering in the lobby". Later Pieman said "If you start booting people on the street because its not convenient for you, they may well turn around and go somewhere else. Treat people well and they will flock. You look at these kids showing up as a nuisance whereas you should be looking at it as an opportunity to make your customers feel welcome whether they are spending money or not.

The original post only mentioned loitering, and didn't give any details as to what problems that was creating. I agree with Pieman that kids should be given the same respect as anyone else... but they need to earn it just as everyone else does. I doubt that Basecamp was complaining about kids just being in the lobby quietly waiting for the show. I assume that there is more to it that has raised Basecamps fears. Something must be going on that might offend or intimidate other patrons to the point that THEY might not return, or he is concerned about security issues when the lobby staff is thin during cleanup time inside.

We are in the business of selling entertainment in the form of motion pictures. We are for the most part not a community center or a recreational facility. People come to see and enjoy the movie, often with refreshments. While we may have arcade games, and certainly refreshments available, those amenities should be there for the enjoyment of our patrons, not those from outside that have no interest in attending the theatre for its intended purpose.

Prior to the multiplexing of theatres, it was the norm to have the tickets collected upon entering the theatre, usually in the outer lobby, before entering the grand foyer where the refreshment center and restrooms were accessed from. In this manner only those that were going to the movie, and had paid to do so, had use of those facilities.

Today most multiplexes don't collect tickets until the patron enters the hallway leading to the auditoriums, or at the auditorium entrance themselves. This makes the lobby, refreshment center, arcade and rest rooms a public place, and has encouraged people, mostly teens, to use it as a social center. As Basecamp said, some come with no real intention to even see a movie. This is a detriment to those that wish to use the theatre as a place to enjoy films.

It is my opinion that even in multiplex theatres, tickets should be collected before entering the lobby, thus weeding out those that have no need to be there. Of course, some will argue that the arcade and refreshment revenue from the non-payers is needed to help keep the theatre operational. I say that if you need that revenue, you're not doing something right in the way that you promote your theatre.

If you educate people so that they know that they must pay to come inside, it's not your fault that they must stay out in the cold if they haven't bought a ticket.

I also agree that 90 minutes is much too long of a time to be open before the show starts. 30 minutes is certainly enough. Even in a multiplex where you stagger starting times, and the last movie to start might go on screen 50 to 60 minutes after opening time, you can hold off selling tickets for any given show until 30 minutes before it's starting time. Just advertise that tickets for all shows go on sale 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Certainly we don't want to annoy teens, or anyone for that matter, who are just standing around waiting for the show to start, but if they are making it unpleasant for other patrons, that can not be tolerated. Regardless of who is being disruptive, those responsible must be dealt with firmly and quickly, or they will chase away the other patrons, and in time you will have only them... and shortly thereafter you will be out of business.
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Re: Teens loitering in lobby 02 Mar 2006 08:05 #20647

  • jimor
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Puzzlegut brings up the "responsibility" of the patrons to leave the auditorium to complain about bad conditions, to which I must reply that the only 'responsibility' of a patron is to pay the admission and not cause problems. For any business to be successful, it must view its work from the customer's perspective, else the patron will not return. It is very annoying for the patron to have to interrupt his movie by having to go out to find someone to complain to, since even if he finds someone, by the time he gets back, much of the plot line will have advanced to his loss.

On those times when I used to complain, these were the responses in multiplexes:

a 16-screener: I hiked and hiked before I found any staff: a girl in the satellite concession stand. I told her of the disturbance and she replied "not my job" and walked back into a rear room. I had started to ask her to phone the manager when she disappeared. Frustrated, I hiked more of the corridors to the lobby and found not one of the staff anywhere! It was a half hour into the last show of the evening and the main stand was closed as was the box office. There was no labeled manager's office, just a door marked Employees Only which I knocked on without response.

Another place and time I again had to complain about rowdy kids and went out to find the guy taking tickets and told him. He said "what do you expect me to do?" with the look and tone 'do you think I'm crazy?!!' I said that I expected his theatre to control its audience. The 20-year-old said "Look, mister, we don't go in there after the show starts since that just disturbs them, and home office says we can't disturb them for any reason. Besides, (he said in a lower voice) last year one of our guys in Dallas went in there about something like this and the patron stabbed him! No way anyone goes in there when the lights are down!" I asked what I should do and he gave me a slip of paper with the chain's home office address on it and told me to write them for a refund. I asked to speak to the manager. He said that the manager's office was at another theatre of the chain 30 miles away, but that he was only there part time and only visited this plex a few minutes a week. At this point he said it was his break time and he walked through a door and left me standing there. Coming out to complain was obviously a bad idea since staffs regard the complainer as the problem!

At a small movie palace, something like a film break stopped the picture for almost a half hour, and there was not a word from the staff (a twenty-something who leased the place, his mother who took tickets, and the vendette.) Finally some teens got restless and jumped up on the forestage and did wild and suggestive dancing while shouting 'war cries' to their buddies in the seats who egged them on. It was deteriorating fast and some adults were leaving, so I went out and told the mother who said, incredulously, "What do you expect me to do?" whereupon I realized that I had annoyed her (the smirk on her face showed that she had my money and didn't give a damn!) and returned to my seat where I did eventually get to see the last quarter of the film. There was no apology and no offer to refund tickets (sign says "No Refunds after ten minutes after start"), but at least when the film started the kids --now about ten of them-- jumped down from the stage onto the top of the pipe organ console to the floor, dancing and laughing loudly up the aisle. Clearly, no one controlled the 'playground' so why shouldn't they? Days later I asked the operator why he didn't call the cops to get rid of the kids who had ignored his shouted order to leave, from the projection room port. He said that the cops have the attitude that unless there is actual violence reported, it is not their priority and so response times were usually around an hour.

People rightly expect a cinema to monitor, police and control their own premesis which the patron has PAID to enjoy, since the patron is not paid to do surveillance or confrontations. We can hardly dismiss the patron's anger at paying as much as ten dollars admission only to see that no one is minding the store. Yes, it is difficult to find good ushers, and most indie exhibitors run so slim an operation that they can't afford them anyway, but now we know another reason that more people don't go out to movies = there's no one in charge watching as there was decades ago. Good patrons feel insecure there, so why go if there will be ugliness or violence? Just rent the DVD soon to be out.

Remember: 'When the cat's away, the mice will play!'

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited March 02, 2006).]
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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