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A step-by-step tutorial on attending cinematic entertainments without causing people near you to want to punch you in the back of the head.

Step 1: Buy Some Tickets

In order to legally get in to a movie theater or cineplex, you must purchase a ticket. Tickets may be purchased at the box office of the theater to which you are going or they can be purchased online or by calling Moviephone.

If you choose to stand in line to buy tickets, here are a few pointers to assist you in not getting punched in the back of the head.

1. When you are standing in line to buy your tickets, other people are also standing in line. You do not own the line and it is not your living room. Therefore, the savvy moviegoer will keep the conversation in the line strictly rated G. Remember, kids go to movies, too. Nothing says "JACKASS" like being inconsiderate while in line.

2. As you approach the ticket window, it is fantastically helpful to have already decided upon which film you wish to see. Nothing makes people want to punch you in the back of the head more than waiting behind you while you stand at the ticket window with your head tilted back, mouth gaping like a basking shark, staring up at the movie listings, trying to decide between Bevery Hills Chihuahua and Burn After Reading. Fortunately for all of us, the movie times are listed online and in local newspapers everywhere so that you may make your decision in advance of arriving at the theater. If you MUST decide at the theater, please do so BEFORE you get in the ticket line.


3. If you are in a group of people, you need not purchase your tickets individually. Everyone can give their movie ticket money to one person in the group who can then purchase all of the tickets for the group at the same time. This saves us all time and frustration. It is even more efficient to take care of the money changing BEFORE you get in line.

4. It would be nice of you to speak politely to the ticket agent. Oftentimes, a person will walk up to the ticket counter and merely bark out the name of the movie they wish to see. Like this: "Harry Met Sally!" The better way to ask for a ticket is to approach the window (money in hand) and say "May I have one for When Harry Met Sally, please?" No one is required to be polite. In fact, most of us have a right NOT to be polite. But it isn't hard to be courteous and it makes life easier and more enjoyable for everyone!

Step 2: Buy Some Snacks (optional)

In general, please refer to step one. All of the same concepts that we explored in regards to buying tickets will also apply for buying food. With one important addition:

If you are a mom or dad and have your children and their friends with you, please have the children decide what they would like BEFORE you get in line. It is no good to have a four year old trying to decide between Wild Cherry Slushee or Gummi Worms while eleven people wait behind you. Have them tell you what they want before you get in line. Let me give you an example based on actual events:

MOM: What do you want, Jaylen?
JAYLEN: Uhhhhhhh...PRETZEL!
MOM (To cashier): OK, one pretzel and a diet...
JAYLEN: NO WAIT...uhhhhhhhh... I wanna candy bar!
MOM (To cashier): oh wait, one second... (To Jaylen) What kind of candy bar?
JAYLEN: Uhhhhhhh....Reese's PIECES! No! Uhhhhh....Junior Mints! Yeah, Junior Mints.
ISABELLE: I WANT JUNIOR MINTS!
JAYLEN: NO, MOMMY, I WANT JUNIOR MINTS!
MOM: You can both have Junior Mints!
ISABELLE: Nuh uh! I want them first!
(Jaylen grabs Isabelle's princess doll)
ISABELLE (screaming at dog-whistle pitch. Glasses shattering in the background): MOMMMMMMMEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! HE TOOK ARIEL!!!!
MOM: Jaylen, give her back Ariel and tell me what you want!
JAYLEN: NO! I wanna pretzel! NONO!! Junior Mints!
ISABELLE: I WANNA PRETZEL JUNIOR MINTS!!!!!

And so on and so on. You see the pain and anguish, not to mentions the countless thousands of dollars for glass repair, that could have been saved by making the snack decision before getting in line?

Step 3: Find a Seat!

OK. You've successfully navigated the ticket and the food line. No one has punched you in the back of the head. Congratulations! It's now time to have your ticket torn and make your way to the auditorium.

Look at all the seats! Here are a couple of things to remember:

If you are tall (like me) please try very hard not to sit directly in front of someone who will have difficulty seeing over you. This is not always possible, especially in crowded auditoria, but a little effort here goes a long way.

If you are coming in after the movie already begins, please do not shout out the name of the person who is saving your seat in order to better locate them. It makes you look like a jackass and it kills the experience for the rest of us.

If you have to move down a row in front of other people, be sure to say "excuse me." (Whisper, please, if the movie has already started.)

Step 4: Pre-movie Do's and Dont's

Here are things to do before the movie begins:

Have fun!
Chat with your friends!
Read the crazy trivia and solve the puzzles in the pre-show slide presentation!
OPEN ANYTHING THAT YOU INTEND TO EAT THAT IS IN A WRAPPER!!! (This is to prevent the truly obnoxious sound of mylar and cellophane being torn during the movie.)
Turn off your cell phones and anything else that might make noise during the film!
Resist the urge to pull out the old laser pointer!

Here are things NOT to do before the movie begins:

Talk about how you've already seen the film and describe all the good/bad parts.
Get drunk.
Use foul language.
Make out with your date.
Throw things at people. (If you do this you are a complete ing moron. You are not cool, witty, or daring. Your girlfriend might pretend to laugh, but inside she is trying to find an excuse to be "just friends." The guys you're with? They probably think it's funny. But then, guys with small "private parts" hang out together and have to do SOMETHING to make up for their, uh, shortcomings.)

Step 5: Watch the Movie!!!

OK! Movie's usually start with previews. No, we know YOU don't like the previews but, believe it or not, a lot of people do. SO SHUT UP!!!!!

OK, here's the thing. A lot of people spent an incredible amount of time working on what you are looking at. The sound effects, the music, the editing, the directing, the scenic design, costumes, camera work, etc. are all incredibly time consuming and difficult things to do. And, believe it or not, just because someone's name is in the credits doesn't mean he or she got payed a zillion dollars. Most of those names in the end credits are just average income people like the rest of us.

Anyway, the rest of the audience wants to fully appreciate this film. They don't want to hear your commentary, private discussions, snoring, your open-mouthed popcorn chewing, stifled giggling at inappropriate times of the movie, cell phone ring tones OR YOUR GODFORSAKEN CELLOPHANE WRAPPERS!!!!!! The same goes for your children. Now, the author does not advocate not communicating at all, but PLEASE whisper quietly and ask your children to whisper quietly. We spent a lot of money to go this show. Let everyone have the opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest!

Oh yeah. If you put your foot on the back of my seat and then bob it up and down I will turn around and punch you in the crotch.

Step 6: BONUS STEP: How to Eat Popcorn Quietly.

Popcorn and movies go hand in hand. (At least they do here in the U.S.) Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who manage to make more sound with their popcorn bags and their chewing than a Die Hard movie. Here's how to enjoy all the salty buttery goodness and still allow all the other folks in the room to enjoy all of the nuances the flick has to offer.

1. Popcorn comes in a bag. The bag is made of paper and paper rattles when you move move it around a lot. Some people like to "fluff" the popcorn when they are grabbing their next handful. They make repeated "clawing" gestures at the popcorn until the pieces feel "right" in their fingertips. Then, it's up to the mouth. This fluffing is wholly unnecessary. You can simply grasp a few kernels between thumb and fingers and in one motion move them straight to your mouth. The fluffing thing has enormous potential to make lots of noise.

2. The more you touch the bag with your arm or hands, the more noise it makes. Tilt the bag slightly to match the angle of your incoming arm.

3. Reach into the bag without touching it. With practice, you can make it all the way to the bottom of the bag while wearing long sleeves or even a jacket and never once rattle the paper.

4. When you take a huge bite of popcorn, people in the theater can actually hear the stuffing noises as you put it in your mouth. Take smaller bites. In this way, you can enjoy your popcorn over a longer period of the movie and your eating will go unnoticed by the viewing public.

5. Chew...with...your...mouth...closed. Anything else is disgusting.

6. If you decide not to finish the popcorn before the move is over and you want to save some for the ride home, it is absolutely unnecessary to roll the top of the bag down over the remaining popcorn. The popcorn will not go stale before the end of the movie. Rolling the bag down makes the most obnoxious noise and people will want to punch you in the back of the head. Please don't ever do this.

Step 7: Conclusion

Well, there you have it. If you follow these simple steps, the world will actually be a better place. Well, at least your local cineplex will be. All you need to do is remember that other people are also trying to enjoy the film. Now let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves a treat! (Quietly, though.)
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What is the "proper" thing to do when the movie goes out of focus for more than 45 seconds? I usually scream "FOOOCUUSS!" really loud in hopes that the projectionist will hear.
Oooooo! I Hate it when that happens. Unfortunately, the projectionist hardly ever sticks around in the booth once the movie is going. I think they usually go and start other movies. If you happen to be attending the ArcLite (sp?) in Los Angeles (my favorite theater) you can just go over to the little movie attendant guy and tell him something's wrong. But he (or she) always watches the first bit of the movie anyway to make sure all is well. Also unfortunately, I live in the midwest and so the solution to the problem is to actually go outside to the lobby and let a theater employee know there's something wrong. They then radio the projectionist. Lame, I know, but it's the best we can do...
I work as a cinema projectionist. At our cinema it is the policy to see the first tree minutes of any film, to adjust picture height, volume and focus. We watch it from the auditorium, at the back, we have a panel in a little locker where all the major adjustments can be done. There is also a Stop button to stop the projector and turn up the lights. This is also connected to the automatic fire alarm, so that when a fire alarm goes off the lights comes on and the film will stop. A sharp focus takes less than two seconds to adjust, and must be done for every show, and should be checked by the projectionist a few times during the film. Even though the trailer reels and the movie is in the same format, the focus can be different! Notice this next time you go to the movies. My "dirty trick" is to adjust a little bit out of focus and then back into focus. More effective than fiddling about in and out of focus several times. :P When subtitles are added on foreign films there is always a bit dodgy, because the focus is a little bit off on the subtitles! Most people will prefer a sharp focus on the subtitles, and will not notice that the actual film is a bit off focus when the subtitles are sharp! And I promise you, reading subtitles for 2 hours that are just slightly out of focus, WILL make you a headache :), like reading a book for hours without your proper glasses.
Wow! I totally want to go to the movies where you work! I just wonder why the things you mentioned don't happen in EVERY cinema! By the way, how does one get a job as a projectionist, anyway? I've always been curious about that, but you never see ads in classifieds looking for projectionists.
I work in Europe. Most european countries has some kind of license that you take to be a certified projectionist. But my line of employment will never be a high profile 100.000£ a year job, so a lot of cinemas don't care if the projectionist has a license, as long as someone is willing to take the job. I think that some part of the problem is that some of the projectionist have learned the profession themselves, or from another projectionist who learned it by somebody else, and some of theese were college kids. I don't want to say anything wrong about college kids, but they may not be as persistent about their work as people who has a job as a profession. I took a license, which is a selfstudy for about half a year and then a professional comes to your cinema and you get a test and then a license if you pass the test. To get a job at a cinema you must know someone who workes at a cinema, and then ask them a lot. Go to the manager directly. Say that you are willing to work long nights for very little pay... :) Pretend to be a film geek will help. The prototype projectionist as seen in some Hollywood films is just as geeky as we are... :)
Perhaps an addition to step 5 could include some advice to the parents/guardians/leash-holders of noisy children. The adults should be reminded that keeping their brats shut up is their responsibility, and failure to do so will earn them a punch in the back of the head. I'm reminded of one time I went to see the third of those crappy Star Wars prequels (Gimme back my twelve-fiddy George Lucas, you ol' hack.). Anyhow, this one couple had like 15 kids in tow (hopefully only a few were their own). These kids are jibbering loudly, throughout the flick, but the adults didn't do diddly to restrain them. At the pivotal moment of the "film" (after Anakin gets all crisped up and the Emperor hauls him off to the prosthetics shop) as the black mask is raised, the loudest and most annoying child pipes up with the observation, "Oh, so he's Darth Vader!" . One can only hope that the child's acquaintances will jeeringly dub him, "Captain Obvious", or some such, as a reward for his boorishness and slow uptake. Dandy Instructable, by the way.
Yes. Too many experiences like those are what inspired the instructable! Thanks for the comment and the compliment!
You're welcome.
Very nicely done! 5 stars.
THANKS!!
Steps #1 and #2 are a little less frustrating if you yourself arrive early. I had to scroll down and post that before I read anymore. Right on!

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