Were we like this at Tinseltown?

The Junkman would have been crackin’ some heads back in the day…

Long lines? Managers that don’t care? Scratched prints? All in one visit?

Below is the email I sent to cinemark.com and the theater GM regarding my recent experience at their new Denton location.

To whom it may concern,

I just returned from your 10:05pm showing of Sin City at your new Denton, TX theater.

When I approached the box office from the parking lot, the line extended approximately halfway through your front drive towards the fountain. Upon further inspection (at 9:45pm on a Saturday night), I noticed that only one cashier was working your box office. During my 15 minute wait in line, a female manager stood in the box office, observing the line, and formed an expression of “wow, that line sure is long,” and proceeded to stand idle, without opening up 1 of the 3 remaining box office stations to help out.

After receiving our tickets, my wife went to the theater, while I purchased concessions. On my way to the theater, I saw a couple managers in the main hallway. The same female manager made a comment about maybe sending someone to help the poor soul in the box office. I promptly advised them that it had been that way for 20 minutes now and it was a very good idea. The male manager informed me that they would take care of it and they began to nonchalantly walk down the aisle with no sense of urgency.

About halfway through the movie, while drinking the large drink I purchased, my wife sucked some unknown substance or item through the straw into her mouth. She placed whatever it was on the lid of the drink and I immediately sought out light to see what this was and to speak with a manager. Once I got into the light, I still could not determine what the item was that almost caused my wife to vomit while watching this movie. A kind concession worker fetched a manager for me. I did not catch the manager’s name, but when I informed him what happened, he looked at the item, laughed a bit, and confidently stated that it was a piece of napkin or paper towel.

I personally think the manager acted as if this was not a serious matter, just piece of paper with some diet coke flavor. Was it trash that somehow found its way to the ice bin? Was it really a napkin? How am I to know? The manager offered to refill my drink, but how that will help my concern that it was trash, I am not sure. It was obvious he didn’t really care that we were thoroughly disgusted by this.

Wanting to get back into my movie, I told him never mind and walked back into the theater. After about a minute or 2, while trying to get back into the movie, this manager walked into the theater and up to my seat and began bugging me about wanting to make it right, even if it meant distracting other patrons trying to enjoy a movie.

On top of this, upon retuning to the movie, I noticed that a nice green emulsion scratch on the right side of the screen for the entire ~4th or 5th reel. Let me also mention that this was the second time we have been to your new theater, the first of which I suffered through an entire scratched print of Sideways. There was no notice posted at the box office that night either, or notification by the cashier that there were nice green and black scratches, not only through the entire set of trailers, but through the entire movie as well.

I write this, not because I am some greedy customer wanting free passes to future shows. Let me give you a bit of background on your potential customer base.

I worked at Movies 12 in Pflugerville and when it closed I worked at Tinseltown 20, which opened in its place. I put up with late night hours and low wages through high school and college for 6 years (yep, even got a great 5yr Swiss Army watch), to pay my way through college, to get a good job and earn some decent money. Apparently, to wind up now spending my money at Cinemark instead of (alot of) my time. 🙂 I worked every position during my employment, aside from concession manager and general manager.

When lines got long at the box office, any managers, ushers, concession workers that were properly trained jumped on open register and emptied lines.

When customers had a problem, managers, myself included, empathized with the customers, we didn’t laugh it off and then harass the customers when they went back to watch their movie. We apologized and told them to seek us out after the movie (so they could return to the movie they paid to see) and waited for them with proper compensation when the movie dropped.

When reels were scratched, we ordered replacement reels as soon as they were noticed. When entire prints were scratched, ordered new prints and until they were received we posted signs at the box office and instructed the box cashiers to inform all customers of the problem so they could consider a different movie if this type of thing bothered them. Many have no idea when a print is scratched. For me though, after spending 5 years of my time at Cinemark as a projectionist or projection manager, I cannot stand bad presentations. Film scratches are caused by neglect and improper presentation checks throughout the shift. In other words, improper training or laziness.

It seems that somewhere, your training of management and subordinate staff has gone astray.

I write this not to get anyone in trouble, but to try and help customers have a better experience, and to let upper management know that they have some more work to do.

Please pass this on to the theatre management and others you feel may have an interest. I hope this, in some small way, can help allow Cinemark to maintain its edge of the other chains in the metroplex by making sure customers receive the best from all those involved with the movie going experience.

Philip Peeples

Actually, we probably did this stuff or at least had some other managers that did, but at least we acted like we cared in front of the customer and had a bit of hustle when needed, right Ron?

Now I might have tail wrapped a few prints in my day, even ran an entire print of The Empire Strikes Back – Special Edition off one of the rollers (somehow it didn’t scrath despite whay Ray Belmares told me 😉 ), but despite that, to my knowledge, I NEVER scratched an ENTIRE print…

– peeps

2 Replies to “Were we like this at Tinseltown?”

  1. sounds like the great tinseltown 17 in south austin that so kindly decided not to turn on the sound for about 10 minutes of the last movie i went to see there. when they became informed of the problem..they were real eager to all just stand there and act as if i was some mirage that had just appeared and disappeared before their eyes, and then continue their conversation. it took me literally getting right up in the managers face and informing him that for the $20 the movie costs i would gladly proceed to bash in his concession stand. I then stood there after i got my free passes, and did not leave until he had handed out free passes to most every victim of their blunder i saw walk out of the theater. and don’t even let me get into the wonderful service I got nearly my whole trip in seattle when eating close to $50 meals. i think people are just becoming more and more stupid.

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