alright i saw the heading and i couldnt resist. this happened to me a few weeks ago in filthadelfia. this is the letter i sent to the theatres corporate office when i got back. its me trying to sound like a rational adult. this is long, so probably nobodys gonna read it.
I went to your theatres tonite in Philadelphia at 40th and Walnut Street to see 2 films with my friend and girlfriend. We had during the first film (the only one we ended up seeing any of), the absolute worst experience in a movie theatre of our entire lives. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like sitting there in your theatre. But I will try.
Since we had planned to see two films back to back, and knowing it was Friday, opening night for both films, we arrived about an hour early to make sure we got tickets. When we arrived at around 7 o clock we were able to get tickets to the 8pm Once Upon A Time In Mexico and the 9:50 Cabin Fever. Although we arrived an hour early, due to the assigned seats policy, we were told we had a choice between the very front or the very back, so we chose the back. (Also, we had not been in a few months and were informed that now, there were no longer student discounts on Fridays nor Saturdays, and that the price for a ticket on the weekend was 10.00 and not 9.25.) But, regardless we got our tickets and began to wait outside the theatre till the previous showing had ended.
We were eventually let in and took our seats in the next to last row in the back of the theatre. As the theatre began to fill up the area around us began to fill up with a group of young black urban males and a few females. During the previews, a group of teens behind us were talking loudly, one of them on their cell phone. My girlfriend turned around to see who was making the noise, and was told "Don't turn around at me. The movie hasn't started yet." She turned back around and did not say anything. Then, someone behind us said "White people are already giving me shit." Since it was only the previews, we tried to ignore it. Hoping, that once the movie started the noise would calm down. Unfortunately it was almost the opposite.
After the movie started, during the first twenty minutes of the film we endured the loud talking of people in the row behind us, next to us and in front of us. Laughing during silences in the film, and responding to any bits of action by stomping and shouting things like "oh shit!" There were also two girls behind us at that point who were giggling loudly and incessantly through long stretches of this part as well. My girlfriend had had enough, so she went to exit the row to inform the management of what was going on in their theatre. on her way out of the row, one of the teens put his leg up in front of her as to not let her pass, said "Hey sexy, where you going", and attempted to touch her butt, although she managed to plow through the group anyway. When she was outside the theatre, she informed the usher of what was going on. She also said that she did not want, for fear of any trouble, the usher to escort her in, but to come in later, listen for any noise, and handle the problem accordingly. So she came back to her seat. A minute later or so an usher came in for about 20 seconds and left without doing anything. Then the noise got worse.
After that, we heard the loud clanking of, what turned out to be a 40oz bottle of alcohol being passed around next to us. In addition the sounds of a young child (in a Rated R movie), and more talking without any regard to the rest of the audience. And finally not one, but two cell phone conversations. The conversation next to us on the phone lasted no shorter than 5 minutes. He did little to keep his voice down, raising it every time there were problems receiving him on the other end of the phone. The entire time, sitting there trapped in our seats all I could think were that 1) I cant believe this is happening. I really cannot believe it. and 2) I cant believe no one ELSE has said anything to them either or gone to complain or leave! Then, after no shorter than 5 minutes on the phone the phone rang in the seats directly behind us and someone else began a conversation, again doing little to keep his voice hushed or leave the theatre till the call was over. Finally I couldn't even believe my frustration anymore, realizing I was probably halfway through the film, and had absolutely no idea what was going on because I hadn't seen any of it.
I walked out of the isle as none of the teens lifted their feet and finally reached the outside where a security guard and usher were present. I was so furious with what had happened with my night of movies, I could hardly get out the words to explain what was going on. But I did. I told them what was going on, that I couldn't stand it any longer, and the security guard decided he would follow me back into the theatre as I made my final attempt at just getting over it and watching the film. I pointed out the rows of people making the noise to the guard who stood by and said he would stand there to wait out the rest of the film.
When I returned to my seat, I was immediately taunted by a teen in the row in front of us, who told me to "Just go home. You're mommys not here." The noise now came in spurts in front, behind, and next to us in the forms of taunts. And that was when I decided I had had enough, and that I just wanted to leave at this point and come back some other day for a matinee. So I told my girlfriend and friend and we got up and left. We were followed by one threatening teen who followed close behind us on the steps and said "What do you need a baby-sitter? Do you think you can go and talk about my cousin like that?" He then circled around my friend in the restroom and disappeared, but did not go back into the theatre.
Outside, the security guard informed us that my girlfriend had been sexually assaulted and was calling the police and that he wanted her to point out who had done it. We hadn't planned on kicking anybody out, making a scene or having any of this done. At this point, we just wanted our $60 back for the 6 tickets we had bought that night, so we could come some other time during the day and see the film. He insisted, and called the police anyway. When they arrived we told them we were uncomfortable with them dragging anybody out to be identified by us, since we don't want to make trouble with anyone who could potentially follow us outside the theatre. We felt extremely uncomfortable and were told to wait outside the theatre. I asked the security guard if we could wait somewhere else, and he said "No, we needed to be there to point them out." Again, I suppose. Our friend, Aaron who lives a few blocks away from the neighborhood, was so uncomfortable with the situation he wanted to leave right then.
The police arrived and were asking us what had happened. When we
told them, they said that these were theatre issues, besides the sexual assault. We asked if they could be ejected for bringing in their own alcohol and drinking that, since they were quite obviously underage. The police said that the theatre served alcohol and there was nothing they could do about it. When the manager corrected him and said it was not permitted in the theatre. They were pretty insistent on going in there and getting this group so the whole group of police (4 or 5) went in. We were now standing right outside the theatre directly in, what if any would become harms way. We again, told the manager we only wanted our refunds and asked if we could wait somewhere else. He told us that we couldn't, and that we had to wait there. He would issue the refund after the police issue had been sorted out. Another manager was told to issue our ticket refunds, and so we followed him to the front of the building. We were all too glad to get away from the entrance to the theatre.
Once up front we were approached by the security guard who told us that when the group was approached and asked only to be "spoken with outside," they all got up and left the theatre. The police let them leave, and they presumably did so. There would be no questioning, no sexual assault charges, and no punishment whatsoever. The manager, gave us our refund amount in cash with the exception of one ticket which was a voucher. He did not, however, tell us he was sorry for what had happened. That it was unusual. That if we came back, it would not happen again. Nothing. In fact, when informing the manager at all of what had happened, he seemed to treat us as more of a nuisance than anyone to care about. At the front counter we met 4 other people who we asked what their refunds were for. They told us, someone had their 5 year old kid in their theatre, and was on their cell phone talking loudly. We said, "Once Upon A Time In Mexico?!" They said "No, Cabin Fever." We couldn't believe they had had the exact same experience in a different theatre.
This experience has been, without question, the absolute worst movie theatre experience I've ever had. The security guard meant well, and tried to remedy the situation. But the theatre staff, who had been informed shortly after the start of the film by my girlfriend did little to nothing to help us out besides ultimately refunding our tickets. That doesn't begin to measure up to the inconvenience of the evening. We had been anticipating the films tonight for a while, paid for the transportation to get to the theatre, and expected to have a nice time. Which, I think I am entitled when I am paying $10 for a movie ticket. The bar in the lobby and assigned seats may make the place seem ritzy, but do little to the movie experience when you have to put up with that. I'm still so frustrated about this whole thing, with our night wasted, and it now nearly midnight I can hardly believe this ordeal. I am having a really hard time telling myself I ever need to come back to this theatre. I have been multiple times in the past and thought, with its slick appearance, that you wouldn't have to put up with this type of behavior apparent in the cities lesser theaters. But now, I realize, without a staff that keeps an eye on the patrons inside the theatre, it's no different.