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TOPIC: Ushers

Ushers 24 May 2004 09:48 #24480

  • puzzlegut
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This was a subject that was started in the "video taping" topic under The Lobby. I was just curious how many people here employ ushers for their theaters? How many screens do you have? How many ushers do you have? What job duties do the ushers have? Are they paid/compensated well? How many hours do they work? What are the pros/cons for hiring ushers?

I was wonder for a new 5-screen if it would be worth while to have an usher. I do not know if I like the idea of paying someone just to tear tickets. At our one-screen, we have a teenager that volenteers to tear tickets and opens the door for people. At our one-screen, it works out just fine but I would like to hear what other people have to say about the topic.
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Re: Ushers 24 May 2004 10:53 #24481

  • jimor
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I can understand why ushers have largely disappeared with exhibitors trying every which way to make a decent profit by cutting costs, but I fear that they have bread a climate of public indifference to the public good in the process. I know in my area the police have let it be known to the laundromats that if they have no personnel on site, they can expect slow police response times to unattended locations, since the cops figure that if they don't have the sense (or are too cheap) to somewhat police their own property, they can't expect the cops to always be there to do it. Same for movie houses. If the owner is too cheap to have someone big enough and old enough on site to imtimidate the wild kids, then why should cops race to any little ruckus at the local mega plex. And some mega plexes in larger cities attract known gangs to minority-appeal pix and then complain to the news media when their cameras show up to record the meley that follows as the gangs invade with all their groupies, and the decent (adult) patrons flee, and later petition the local authorities to close such "attractive nuisance" cinemas. Who can blame them?

Every cinema should be required to have at least one man on duty to maintain order, but then these usually turn out to be minimum wage (or less) high school kids who are hardly going to police their friends/schoolmates! And even if an older man is hired, he is usually given no training, no uniform to command some little respect, and given multiple duties to be carried out at the same time: take tickets, open/close doors, substitute in the snack bar, sub for the cashier or projectionist, etc., that he has no real time to patrol the auditoriums. If he is a smart guy, he will quickly discern the relationship the place has with the local cops and the typical response time he can figure on when a knife blade is pushed into his ribs. You say the owner(s) is/are gone and it is also up to him to be the manager? Then expect problems/trashings, maybe even a riot in larger cities, but don't blame the lone usher without backup, uniform, training, and reliable cops nearby. Even a whopping $6/hour is not worth life and limb. And you thought exhibition was an 'easy' business? Not anymore, bub.

REMEMBER: Where there is no discernable authority, a power vacuum will exist, and there are ALWAYS opportunists who will quickly fill that vacuum with their own selfish deeds. History is one long story of people grasping for power, high or petty, and that evil always wins when good is too idle or cheap to enforce what is right. Peace and prosperity is never really free!

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited May 24, 2004).]
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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Re: Ushers 24 May 2004 11:51 #24482

  • Reel-Life
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We also have a 5 screen and we do have ushers. Our auditoriums are seperated into 3 different sections. 1 and 2 together, 3 by itself in the middle, and 4 and 5 on the other side of the lobby. We have 3 ushers tearing tickets, on Friday and Saturday nights, mostly to keep kids out of movies they didnt pay for. This isnt a problem any other day of the week. It changes in the summer. Also, we have what we call a rover, and they monitor all the theaters for rowdy kids while the movies are going on. They walk up and donw the aisles. Management helps with this task. The other ushers, will be cleaning the lobby, and throwing trash while this is going on. Once they are done, they go on break, and the rover stays on the clock. Works well for us.
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Re: Ushers 24 May 2004 19:54 #24483

  • coryray
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We're a large, 70+ year old art deco picture palace and we have but two classes of employees, front-of-house and stage hands. The FOH people include Ushers, Box Office, Ticket takers, Concessions and Floor/House Managers. Every new hire working FOH are trained in all five positions, usually beginning with Tickets, then Ushers, then either Box Office or Concessions.

Ticket Takers tear tickets and assist with cleaning the auditorium between shows.

Ushers are responsible for seating patrons, once the show begins as well as walk arounds in the auditorium , just to let all know they're being watched, so-to-speak. They also performer restroom checks and clean the auditiorium between shows. During reserved seat engagements, they are responsible for seating all patrons in their assigned seats.

Once the new hire is familiar with the theatre by working these two positions, I usually put them into concessions to learn the most difficult area in the operation. There's lots to learn and I generally leave the teaching to other concessions staff, (It's a good way to keep the old timers on their toes, since if they've varied the procedures, it becomes glaringly obvious. In essence, both are being trained.)

Once this all important area is learned, the last area is Box Office and that really is quite the relief for most. Not nearly as demanding as waiting on people for food.

I know this is an elongated answer to the Usher question, but I strongly feel that each position is important to the smooth running of the house. Having a staff that's trained in all positions allows for a more rounded crew giving me the ability to vary the staff size on a show-by-show basis.

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Re: Ushers 25 May 2004 17:14 #24484

At my five-screen theater, tickets are torn at the main door, which seems to work well. Our ushers are usually responsible for that, as well as cleaning theaters, threading and starting movies, tidying up the lobby, and helping in the concession stand when we are busy. They get paid a respectable amount (about a dollar over minimum wage) and we have very little problems with wraps and breaks due to bad threading.
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Re: Ushers 25 May 2004 17:15 #24485

At my five-screen theater, tickets are torn at the main door, which seems to work well. Our ushers are usually responsible for that, as well as cleaning theaters, threading and starting movies, tidying up the lobby, and helping in the concession stand when we are busy. They get paid a respectable amount (about a dollar over minimum wage) and we have very little problems with wraps and breaks due to bad threading.
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Re: Ushers 11 Jun 2004 09:43 #24486

We only use Ushers when we have a really big showing like the opening of "SHREK 2" or "HARRY POTTER." We don't really imploy the usher we use. They come in on a volunteer basis and do the job for free passes. It works well most of the time because our volunteers are movie lovers and enjoy being in the theatre.
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Re: Ushers 12 Jun 2004 15:54 #24487

  • rodeojack
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We don't employ "ushers" as such, either (4-plex... 480/275/275/275... ish".

On slow days, the cashier (indoor) tears the stub... on busier days, someone at the head of the auditorium hallway does that. We use RTS, and stubs are deposited in a podium or saved at the counter.

Auditorium checks are done two to three times per hour... not always conspicuously, but they are done. Minor issues are resolved by the concession staff, which we cross-train as seems individually appropriate. Anything that involves potential confrontation is referred to the Lord-High Executioners.

So-far... it seems to have worked well enough for us.
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