Regal Cinemas’ hypocrisy

You can’t go into a movie at a Regal Cinemas theater without submitting to a stranger’s going through your bags and possibly stealing some stuff, after you stand in line for half an hour. The ostensible reason for this is to reduce the risk of being shot. A more plausible explanation is that they want to keep people from bringing in outside snacks and are appealing to fear.

movie scene of man pouring liquorThe explanation that Regal is trying to eliminate the tiniest risks looks dubious when you notice that they serve alcohol. I’ve done some rough calculations from Internet statistics, which are too loose for me to bother you with, and it looks to me as if there’s about 2 chances in a billion of getting fatally shot in a movie theater, and 20 in a billion of dying in a traffic accident going to or coming home from the movie. Different assumptions could shift the results by an order of magnitude or more, so I’m not claiming you’re more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, but I’m willing to say the risks are roughly comparable. If Regal were really interested in eliminating risks on that scale, it wouldn’t increase them by serving alcohol. However, serving alcohol and searching customers are consistent policies if revenue enhancement is their policy — and if they believe they won’t drive away vast numbers of customers by violating their privacy.

I rarely go to first-run movies anyway, so it doesn’t affect my behavior much. I can’t boycott what I wouldn’t attend in the first place. Most of the movies I’ve attended in the past couple of years have been silent movies with live accompaniment. The excessive sound levels, long runs of ads, annoying audience behavior, and high concession prices are already reason enough for me to choose other entertainment. Obviously a lot of people think otherwise, and that’s their choice. We’ll see if their choices change when Regal treats them like dirt.

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4 Responses to “Regal Cinemas’ hypocrisy”

  1. jonathan hirt Says:

    In my experience, the employees doing the searches have stated they don’t care what you have in your bag, as long as it’s not a weapon. The other week the lady in front of us had food in her bag and she told them and the employee said basically that’s not what they’re looking for and it’s no problem.

    I don’t mind the searches personally.

  2. Eyal Mozes Says:

    Who pays the salary of the guards doing the searches? If their salary is paid by Regal Cinemas, I’m sure that costs them much more than they could possibly gain from extra food sales, even if the guards did search for food.

    I agree that the searches are stupid; the inconvenience they cause is out of all proportion to their chances of preventing any actual danger. Next time there’s a first-run movie I want to see (I don’t know when that will be, it’s pretty rare) this might by the deciding factor that makes me wait for the DVD. But I see no basis for accusing Regal Cinemas of hypocrisy, or attributing to them any hidden motives.

    • Gary McGath Says:

      An article which I came across quotes a security expert who thinks they’re using the same people who check ticket stubs as security guards. It sounds as if he’s just speculating, though. I can’t find any news article on whether they’re using dedicated security personnel or not.

      The snacks that one family buys could equal a guard’s pay for an hour, so maybe it’s cost-effective anyway.

      Apart from that, serving alcohol while claiming to be concerned with eliminating infinitesimal risks is still hypocritical.

    • Gary McGath Says:

      One news site attempted to get some answers on what they have for security guards but didn’t get answers:

      CBS6 called and emailed the Regal Cinemas spokesperson a number of times on Thursday to see when the policy was officially put in place, the background requirements of the security guards who are conducting the searches and the protocol for what happens if/when they deny entry to moviegoer, we did not get a return phone call or email.


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