An Insider’s Guide to Movie Etiquette

An Insider's Guide to Movie Etiquette

Katie Cox, Writer

Movies are a way of getting out of the house and spending time with friends or family while sitting indoors at the same time.  Just like any other retail business or restaurant, there are customers who have a problem with every little thing they see. People will complain about everything — from seat size to machine malfunctions to whether or not another customer is “bothering” them. Don`t those kind of folks just drive you nuts? Don’t you want to make sure you aren’t like them? Well, here are some tips to help you avoid developing a “Karen” persona at the movies: 


  • Be aware of how big your vehicle is, make sure it doesn’t poke out into the aisle. 
  • Don`t take a spot if you`re just running in for popcorn. 

Waiting in line: 

  • If there is a line at the box office, tickets are sold at the concession stands as well.   
  • If the line is long, please be patient. If you`re complaining about the number of people, the workers are doing it as well, (except they are required to be polite). Just like you, they have no control of how busy it is. 
  • If there is a membership line, it is management policy to alternate between the lines. The memberships aren’t that costly and save you money when you go in. It`s worth the sign-up fee. 
  • Don`t start up a conversation with the person behind you, then get mad when the employee calls another person because you didn’t pay attention. 
  • Wait to be called when getting snacks. The workers may have just sent someone away because of a technical error with a register. 
  • Most theaters have the showtimes on screens when you walk in. It saves time for others if you know what you want to see. 
  • Same for concessions, the screens can be seen from the door, no need to take 10 minutes to decide you only want a regular popcorn. 

Talking to employees:  

  • Be respectful. If there was a long line, the workers are most likely more upset than you. 
  • If you`re going to talk about personal life, make sure it won`t hold up the line. Employees can`t tell you to leave them alone, so nodding and smiling is all they can do.  
  • If an employee is busy, be patient until they are available. Yelling does not make them go faster.  
  • If they tell you it`s policy, they can NOT make an exception for you. 
  • Jokes about how costly the food is are not funny. 
  • Once you hand them money for your purchase, DO NOT give them more change. They have already put in the amount you gave them, and they cannot do math. 
  • Prices are not up to the employees, make sure to look at the menu before you order and know what you are getting.  

R Rated Policy: 

  • A physical copy of a government issued ID must be present. 
  • The minimum age to see an R rated movie is 17.  
  • For 16 and under, an adult 21 or older MUST be in the theater watching the movie with the minor.  
  • An adult is not allowed to buy a ticket and leave. The minor will be kicked out. 
  • A 21-year-old can only buy themselves and 5 other tickets for those under 17. 
  • No children ages 6 and under are allowed in rated R movies after 6:00 p.m. 

In the theater: 

  • Don`t talk. Just don`t. 
  • Don`t get on your phone. Piracy is not a victimless crime.  
  • Don`t do the dirty. Yes, it happens. Yes, it must be cleaned up afterwards. 
  • If there is an issue, let an associate know. It cannot be fixed unless they know. 

After the movie: 

  • If you brought things in, take them out.  
  • If you bought snacks, make sure you throw them away. 
  • DO NOT leave trash in the theater. Yes, it is a job to clean after a show so the next one is clean, but if 30 people leave popcorn and drinks, it piles up. 
  • Don`t spoil it for others, they want to enjoy it just as you did. 
  • If you use the bathroom, please throw away the items you brought in there. And if anything is out, let an associate know. 
  • Once you are out of your movie, go home. With younger teens, they tend to stick around, and it is not the theater’s responsibility to babysit. 

Honorable Mentions: 

  • If the movie is too dark, that`s good. The lighting cannot be changed. 
  • If it is too cold, bring a jacket.  
  • It is not the employees’ fault. 
  • The employees are simply employees, not family therapists. They cannot tell you what to buy your grandma for her birthday.
  • Most of the employees are teens at some locations. They are worried about getting paid and getting home. Keep that in mind. 

It is understandable that you go to the movies to have a good time. Everyone is there for the same reason. However, it does get rough on the employees when they have to deal with one-to-two thousand people per day. Please be respectful when going out to any public area or franchise. The associates are doing their best, and they ask the same from you in return.