An open letter to theater ushers

usherLook, before you get all bent out of shape, know this: I served my time as a theater employee when I was a young man. I know all the ins and outs of what it takes to run a theater, having started behind the concession stand and finally ending up threading movies and counting the money at the end of the night. It was my job to handle the scheduling, piece the reels together, keep an eye on the place when the boss wasn’t around, that kind of thing. So try to keep that in mind as you read what I have to say.

A lot of the time, I see my movies at screenings. The studios rent these theaters out, hire companies like Gofobo to give out tickets to anyone smart enough to type a code into a website and hit print, and then they hire people to stand outside and ask you what you thought of the film.

But more often than not, I see my movies the same way you do: I drive to the theater, pay my fee, sit down and watch the film.

As a critic, I feel it is my duty — and, as a paying customer, completely within my right — to watch each and every inch of the film to give my readers an accurate description of what I saw and how it affected me. In order to do so, I am not one to hop up the second the screen fades to black and the words “Directed by…” fill the screen. I want to let the theater clear out, wrap my head around what I just saw, gather my feelings, think about what to say in my review, find out what the heck that last song was called… In short, I am one of those annoying people who likes to sit through the credits. Even if I know there is no chance a movie like “Admission” would ever have one of those secret scenes after the credits commence (there is a name for those, by the way — they’re called “stingers”).

Now, I can remember thinking people who sit through the credits were merely doing so to drive me nuts when I worked the theater circuit. But my opinion has changed. When you see a movie at a screening, not once do you have to worry about theater personnel walking in at the end of a movie to stare at you as if to say, “Get the fuck out of here, I need to clean.” But that is EXACTLY how I feel ushers react when I sit through a movie that I paid good money out of my hard-earned bank account to go out and see. I cannot tell you how many times I have been the only one left in the theater, gathering my thoughts, while the usher stood in the doorway, clanging their dustpans and brooms, checking their texts, vehemently staring at me to “GTFO” so they can pick up the place for the next show.

So here is my plea: GOOOOOO AWAAAAAYYYY. There is plenty of time between shows that you can get the place clean in enough time that patrons don’t have to feel uncomfortable or rushed out of the theater. Nine times out of ten — nay, TEN TIMES out of ten — I would prefer you clean the damn place AROUND me so I can finish the movie I paid to watch than sit in the corner and stare at me with vengeful eyes. It’s not that I sit through the credits out of spite — in fact, being a critic, I feel it is my duty to finish the ENTIRE movie the same way it is your duty to clean up after the slobs who watched the movie with me in the first place.

I could very easily call out a couple of theaters where this is most prevalent, but I will take the high road. All I ask is that ushers — and theater management — take my plea to heart. I can remember seeing “The Dark Knight Rises” last summer, 5:00 show, and having six ushers stand at the exit banging stuff and waiting for me to clean. GO CLEAN! What do I care? Why would I be offending if you are cleaning the place if you actually let me finish watching the film? It didn’t matter to me if you told me the movie had no stinger. I was going to finish the damn movie come hell or high water. I can’t believe I didn’t write this post the second I left that movie. It sure made me want to stop going to that theater, that’s for sure.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Shut up, quit being a baby, YOU go away, the credits are just a bunch of white words on a black background…” I get it! And I could care less. The credits only run about five minutes total. Go find something to do until EVERYONE leaves and you can have your precious theater all to yourself.


Categories: Special Reports and Rants

2 replies

  1. Former usher here, and I did get to cleaning while there were still butts in the seats, at least for the crowded screenings. So I’m glad you don’t mind.

  2. The one thing he left out here was the simple act of giving credit where credit is due and having the respect to sit through the credits.

    These people work very hard on the film, and every credit counts.

    If it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t run them.

    Only recently have I realized this, and started watching through the credits. Not to wait for ‘stingers,’ or ‘collect my thoughts’ – but to give the deserved respect to the people who worked on the film.

    (Perhaps it’s because in a way, I am responsible for ‘credits’ with the programs I produce for my local theater company. They work hard, I work hard to give them credit, I sure as heck hope the patrons actually READ them)

    Also, as a former usher myself, I would have gotten in so much trouble if I started cleaning before all the patrons left. It’s disrespectful – as is waiting impatiently. As the author states, there’s plenty of time between screenings – the movie isn’t over until the final credit rolls.

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