Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Crime sometimes does pay

One thing I've noticed about big multiscreen cinemas in various countries is how sometimes halfway through a film people will walk in. It seems that once you've paid your ticket and you're inside, although you're not supposed to, you're pretty much free to wander from screen to screeen. There doesn't generally tend to be a ticket checker for each screen, so the cinema relies on honesty for patrons to see the film they paid to see and then leave.

Except does the cinema really care? It would probably be more expensive for the cinema to employ lots of people to check everyone's ticket at each door. And these errant cinema goers have to eat, so the cinema makes more money from the concessions stand. You can bet that if one cinema started enforcing a "one ticket-one film" policy, then people would simply go to the cinema across town that didn't. So the cinema would lose custom.

So it seems to be one of those unacknowledged loopholes that no-one talks about. Buy a ticket, see as many films as you can stand. I (almost) did it myself yesterday. The film I wanted to see had already started so I couldn't buy a ticket from the electronic ticketmaster machine. There was an enormous queue for the human seller, so I simply bought a ticket for another film from the machine and then went to the film I wanted to see, feeling slightly guilty, even though it wasn't technically a crime.

However, the lax policy kind of worries me because it's giving out an implicit message that crime does pay. And if people can get away with something like that, it might prompt them to wonder what else they can get away with. In the book "The Tipping Point", much is made of the fact that once graffiti was rigourously scrubbed off Manhattan subway trains every night, overall subway crime rates fell - because little things can lead on to bigger things. Bad behaviour in cinemas is a small example of this. People answering phones during films, people fighting with each other, people recording the films... With electronic projectionists and a distinct lack of law or norm enforcement, cinemas, with all their dark expanses, can be potentially scary places.


KAZ said...

I have a double standard.
I recently sent an e mail to the cinema manager complaining about the kids walking in and out and diturbing my enjoyment of the film.

He sent me two complimentary tickets.

But I would happily do a bit of screen hopping is time allowed.

Old Cheeser said...

Yes, and what about goes on on the back row? Or is that just a myth these days?

But I'm actually surprised that you were able to buy a ticket for one movie and then go and see an entirely different one, Lubin. Don't the staff check the tickets properly?

matty said...

It is my experience that anything and generally does happen in the back row -- especially in the seedier parts of San Francisco. But, it is quite important to wear latex gloves!

First of all I just wanted to state that, yes, crime does pay. Secondly, I am so upset! You can't do that in San Francisco. All the cineplexs here have it fixed where you get busted if you try to do that. Not that I have or anything. But, I hear on good authority that one can't sneak into other movies. I do know you can't get back into a Landmark cinema without your ticket stub. I learned that the hard way when I ventured to the restroom during a movie.

However, in New England, one can go from cinema to cinema without any problem. And, nothing happens in the back row there other than the watching of the film. Yet, I would still suggest wearing latex gloves.

I'm just sayin'