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January 6, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Brenna Catlettstout is no longer surprised at what people will actually do in a darkened theater. As an usher, Catlettstout performs “theater checks” to make sure viewers aren’t unruly, checks the picture and sound, and cleans up after the movie.
What do people try to get away with in a theater?
Someone once tried to pay with a fake $20 bill made out of cardboard. People try to sneak in. They’ll walk past the ticket booth to the bathrooms. Then we watch to make sure they buy a ticket when they come out. Sometimes a group will buy one ticket and try to let people in the side door. There’s also “theater skipping.” That’s buying one ticket and trying to see more than one movie. Sometimes under-17s use that trick to get into an R-rated movie.
NAME: Brenna Catlettstout
COMO RESIDENT SINCE: 2001
AT JOB SINCE: 2008
Do people try to sneak stuff into the theater?
We don’t usually try to catch people sneaking stuff in. People bring their own sodas and we’re told not to say anything. We’re more likely to find odd things when cleaning after a show. I’ve found a huge Jack Daniels whiskey bottle.
People try to bring back popcorn tubs from home for the 54-cent refill. It’s very awkward, but I’ve had to tell them to throw their tubs away. They’re usually adults with kids trying to get a deal on popcorn.
How often do you check IDs for R-rated movies?
Our official policy is that if they seem like they’re not going to be disruptive, we sell the ticket. But if they’re behaving badly before they even buy the ticket, we’ll ask for an ID.
What kind of disgusting stuff do people leave in the theater?
People leave huge messes. I’ve had to clean up three pukes. The first month I worked here someone puked and covered it with paper towels. I didn’t realize what it was until I leaned down to pick up the paper towels and my hand sunk. The movie Cloverfield made a lot of people motion sick.
I didn’t find it, but someone I work with actually found poop in a theater.
We find condoms regularly. I’ve found three (unopened) packages in the two years I’ve worked here, but I haven’t heard of anyone finding used condoms.We usually find them during the week in movies that have been out for a while, where there aren’t many people in attendance. I found one after a kid’s movie on a weeknight when there were only two people in the theater. So, I know exactly who left them. I once had a “doing the dirty” complaint. A couple had their armrests up and were laid across the seats. I had to tell them to sit up.
Do people leave a lot of trash in the movie theater?
About 40 percent clean up after themselves. The ushers sweep between shows – mostly popcorn and candy boxes. When it’s busy the concession staff helps. We know if we’ve sold a lot of concessions we’ll need a bigger crew to clean before the next showing.
What’s the most crowded opening weekend you’ve worked?
Do you spend a lot of your job babysitting tweens?
We’re glad to have them unless they’re just standing around the lobby — particularly if they’re loud and obnoxious. We try not to send them outside when the weather’s bad. We recently had kids who waited two hours for their ride. We kept telling them to call their mom. We check the theater a lot because they use their cell phones and talk during the movie. They hold up the concession line because they can’t decide what they want. They can’t seem to hold onto their sodas.
Why do people walk out of movies?
People leave when the plot is bad or it’s not what they expected. We had a lot of walk-outs from
A Christmas Carol last year. People thought it was a comedy, but it was quite dark.
Do you get to see movies at work?
I get to see parts of movies when I’m ushering or projecting. We get a free movie a week and a free popcorn and drink.