Thursday, November 1, 2012
ST. ANDREWS CINEMA BAIT & SWITCH
Last night, Halloween, I took the boys to dinner and a movie, after they said they didn't want to go trick-or-treating. I arrived at the St. Andrews Multiplex Theater fifteen minutes before the start of the show and went in to buy tickets. When we came up to the concession stand a young man (probably high school or early college age), who seemed to be in charge, told me that they would not be showing the movie because not enough people had come to see it and they would not run it for just us three. I looked at him dumbfounded and pointed out that we were early. He did not offer to let us see one of the other films (though they too may have been cancelled, I don't know). No matter. They would not be showing the film. Period. You must leave. You could see they were already cleaning up. Despite it having been advertised online and in the newspaper (as well as in their phone recording). I said that since they advertised it, they should show it. He said the place was a "family theater" and therefore if they felt they weren't going to make money, they didn't have to stay open. I told him this was unfair, since I wasted gas and time driving across town (not to mention the expectations of my sons); he retorted that "what kind of idiot wastes gas to attend a $2 movie." I pointed out that to take the three of us to a regular movie it would cost around $30 instead of $6, but he again said that they have the right to cancel a show if not enough people show up. I was getting pretty riled up by his attitude and callous treatment. I don't know how many people may have come before me, but I sat in the parking lot and watched at least 11 people drive up and get turned away. I am not sure what the cutoff attendance point is for a profitable showing at this establishment. I asked some of the people getting turned away when they came out what movie they came to see, and it was the same one we came to see. After another couple was turned away right before the show was scheduled to begin, I asked what they had been told, and the man said, "The man said we were the first two people to show up for the movie and therefore they were not going to show it." Of course, a boldfaced lie. I went back up to the theater, but now the employees had locked the doors and turned off outside lighting. The manager was putting stuff away in the kiosk area, and when I called him out for his dishonesty, he said he was going to call the police. He turned to the other gentleman with me and had the cheek to say that I was the cause of them deciding not to show the film. As we were driving away, at 7:28, another group of people (it looked like five people) were getting out of their car in the parking lot and we passed other cars driving in. I estimate that maybe 20 people or so were likely turned away in the end. I don't know if the theater staff that night had a hot party to attend or that they were following some sort of preexisting policy, but it seems to me if a business advertises it should live up to its promised schedule (unless there is some true problem, such as a broken film or biblical flood), as it puts a lot of people out. I have personally sat through a couple movies in that place with fewer than five in attendance, and just two weeks ago went to a movie in Forest Acres where I was the only person in the theater, and still they showed their movie. There is no way this guy could have known how many people were going to show up for the movie fifteen minutes before it started (not counting any previews time). What if fifty people had rolled up? I have tried to call the owner or manager to get a clarification, even called Better Business and then State Consumer Affairs. They say I can lodge a complaint and they will send a letter of notice to the theater. I am mulling that option. I know though, that I will not be going back there again, for a while at least. The dvds usually come out at the same time. I guess I'll just have to adopt that option from now on. If the owners felt there was not going to be enough business they should not advertise. Maybe it is time they close their doors permanently.