The Top Seven Things I Wonder about Empire Theatres

If you want to go to a mainstream first run movie in Charlottetown, and you don’t want to go to the drive-in, you’ve got to go to Empire Theatres.

I saw Insomnia there tonight; it was a good movie that I wouldn’t have gone to see if I knew anything about it, so I won’t say anything about it so as to not jeopardize gentle readers’ possibility of going to see it.

But the experience did leave me with the following questions about Empire Theatres:

  1. There are now 4 or 5 electronic ticket machines available at the entrance. You can’t miss them. It takes about as long to buy your ticket from a machine as it does from a person, yet even when there are 30 or 40 people in line, the ticket machines remain largely unused. Why? (Companion question: similar situation exists at Terminal 2, Pearson Airport in Toronto: you can check in with a terminal in about 15 seconds or wait in line for 1/2 an hour to check in with a real person; the terminals are seldom used).

  2. There is a new ritual of having an usher enter the theatre just before the show and say (and I’m paraphrasing from memory here): “Hello my name is Fabian and I’m an usher here at Empire Theatres. I’m just here to let you guys know about our Stash the Trash Program…” Fabian (or whoever) then goes on to tell us that we can “really help them out” by using garbage pails, and mentions at the tail end that if we have any temperature or volume problems we can come and talk to him. I’m wondering (a) why they put shy adolescents through such public speaking hell, especially when many in the audience are no doubt their classmates, (b) whether this scheme actually convinces people to stash their trash or not, and how much money they save from some number of the audience members doing so and (c) whether other audience members find this annoying rather than helpful. I always thought the opportunity to callously throw litter on the floor was part of going to the movies.

  3. The ushers and their overlords are all wearing headset walkie talkies. What are they talking about? “We’ve got a callous trash non-stasher in aisle 3; all agents respond.”

  4. The ushers that take tickets now refer to the theatres as “stadiums,” or rather “Stadiums” as in “Insomnia… that’s in Stadium 6, second door on your left.” Does this really impress anyone?

  5. Has anyone else noticed that the toy plastic “stadium style seating” they apparently bought from Wal-mart is rather flimsy and has the annoying property of echoing every tick, kick and jossle of anyone in the row behind you directly into your spinal column?

  6. Said Wal-mart style seating also incorporates cup holders, which while they make soda storage much easier, also render useless the arm resting feature of the arm rests. Did the designers not think of this?

  7. Why do you young teens think it’s okay to talk at the movies? I never talked at the movies as a young teen. Talking at the movies is wrong. Such people should not be allowed to attend movies. I consider them one step below the “hey, let’s roll some M&M’s down the aisle for kicks” people.
I would appreciate answers to any of the above from those more knowledgeable than I. And do go and see Insomnia.


Charlie's picture
Charlie on May 27, 2002 - 14:32 Permalink

Bravo Peter. The stash your trash speech drives me nuts. Every time the speech starts the thought that hits me is “For $9.50 a ticket you can pick up my popcorn bag”. I look around at some of the families with 3 or 4 kids going to the movies and buying them all food and you know that they aren’t getting out of that place for less than $60-$80 and you still want them to get all the little kids to pick up their empty cups and drag them out at the end? Plus, the ushers still have to go in and clean the aisles anyways!

Matt's picture
Matt on May 27, 2002 - 14:48 Permalink

An awkward usher moment, witnessed recently…

Male Usher — “So if you have any problems with the temperature, just let me or any of the other staff know…”

Female Moviegoer with several friends — “Um, I have a problem with the temperature… you’re too hot!”

Then they all giggled.

Poor ushers.

Oliver's picture
Oliver on May 27, 2002 - 19:45 Permalink

The original Norwegian Insomnia (… was very good. I highly recommend that one. Regarding automatic ticket machines, I don’t know why people aren’t using them, but I know I personally like the idea of a human ticket seller much better. Much more than littering, that’s part of the movie experience for me. Not that it’s a big part, but it’s of a piece with the public/civic-ness of movie going, without which one might as well just get a big screen TVand DVD player and stay home. Likewise, I sometimes don’t mind hearing fellow audience members chortle or quip or otherwise vocalize. Cross a fine line, though, and it annoys the pants off me. In Oakland, Calif, there’s a great theater called the Parkway (…, where you sit on a mixture of couches and easy chairs round coffee tables or at counters with your friends. You order food ahead of time that ushers deliver to your table, and the theater never fully dims the lights. The audience there often responds vocally a lot. Relatedly, I heard there was a movie channel on cable where two people or characterize make wisecracks during the entire movie. That’s over the top, for me, but I think it shows that talking during a movie is not only acceptable but appreciated by some people.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on May 27, 2002 - 21:50 Permalink

The “movie channel” you are referring to is Mystery Science Theatre 3000. They put out a movie and also there is a series of tapes that you can rent of their cable show episodes. The host and a couple puppet friends were forced to watch bad 1950’s era black and white movies. To survive the experience they make jokes and running commentary. Rent the actual movie first, its better than any of the individual episodes. Highly recommended!

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on May 30, 2002 - 20:22 Permalink

Wwhat… pPeter… what was that reference to M&Ms down the aisle? I thought rolling M&Ms down the asile was part of going to a theatre…

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on May 30, 2002 - 20:23 Permalink

Uh,… sorry… Stadium; going to a stadium I mean.

stephen's picture
stephen on June 3, 2002 - 16:42 Permalink

I have been watching movies at the Showplace 6 here in Lubbock, Texas (all seats at all times for all movies $2) and its been nice to go to an actual movie place when I’ve been watching movies on video for the last three years. I don’t know the history of the Showplace 6 but it seems like each “stadium” was moved here from a different part of the world. some of the seats recline just like a La-Z-Boy and some are as uncomfortable as the bench seats on a school bus. But “teens talking” would be several steps up from what goes on in these theatres — 10-year-olds walk up and down the aisle throughout the movie, kids get bored and start totally losing it about an hour into the movie because dad wanted to see the movie and the kids have to sit through a movie they can’t even understand. On Friday someone kept check their cellphone and going in and out of the theatre to make calls. The only thing I can figure is that becaue the temperatures here can be in the 90’s even at night people who have no airconditioning at home come to the theatre to cool down and they either don’t care what the movie is or they have seen it 25 times and have it memorized anyway. At least we don’t get the stash your trash lecture because people would probably throw garbage at the person trying to give the speech. But not all pre-movie speeches at cinemas are bad — I can still remember some of the brilliant monologues given before movies at Wormwood Theatre in Halifax (my personal favourite: “Sorry, we seem to be having trouble with the projector which doesn’t make sense because its very old.” [Heckler]: “If it’s old of course you’d have problems with it…” Movie guy: “No, just think about it — how does a movie projector get to be really old? Because it has a long history of working well.”

Claire's picture
Claire on August 15, 2003 - 06:23 Permalink

AS an Empire Employee I can garentee that the head-sets and radios are part of our job!!! I am a concessionest and there is nothing I hate more then wearing that damn blue hat!!! but it goes with my uniform!!! I know quite a few ushers and they do go around asking people to stash thier trash because it is thier job, they don’t enjoy it but hey do you like everything about your job? and what they are talking about over the radeo is the fact that there is a huge mess in staduim 6 and there isn’t enough time for one usher to clean it by the time the next movie starts so they need help!!! thankyou though for the 7 questions though I found them amusing!!!

spinokey's picture
spinokey on June 15, 2004 - 22:36 Permalink

I was an employee of empire theathers as well for many years, quite a few years ago. that was before the head sets, the ticket machines or the talking ushers….and the business seemed to run quite fine without any of those things then. Also, an usher has 2 jobs. Show the people the right theater and pick up trash….I wonder what duties they’ve replaced the trash picking up with??

Danny Hennessey's picture
Danny Hennessey on July 24, 2004 - 04:43 Permalink

Its pretty easy for you to complain about your movie going experience, obviously since you know nothing of the inner workings of a cinema. Do you throw your crap on the floor at home? Thats just lazy and kinda cruel. I hope you come to my cinema, and I’ll shove your popcorn bag up your ass when the movie is done, so long as an old lady hasnt already tripped over causing severe neck and spinal injuries. Poor misguided opinion, good try though.

jaclyn's picture
jaclyn on July 31, 2004 - 17:12 Permalink

ooh ooh ooh! i have an answer to the ticket machines question.. well MY reason is because they print out those tickets that are made of that thin paper stuff.. but when you go to the real person.. you get the thicker cardboardy tickets, which i save! also.. when they ask us to stash our trash i dont think they mean to pick up every piece of popcorn you dropped on the floor.. but i really dont think its that much of an inconvenience to throw the bag and the cup.. but thats just my opinion

Mary-Jean's picture
Mary-Jean on September 18, 2004 - 21:40 Permalink

whenever the usher comes in and does his little spiel about stash your trash, turn cell phones off, etc, i always applaud when he is finished.

Usherman1's picture
Usherman1 on January 13, 2005 - 06:10 Permalink

Ok, since none of you seem to have any idea what you are talking about in answering these questions, I’ll try and clear things up.
1) I’m Currently an Usher for ET and have been for two years. (So maybe just maybe I know what I’m talking about.)
2) We will start with the speeches. I enjoy doing them and they do work. (as of this posting ET has switched over to a film trailer which graphically illustrates turning your cell off, stashing your trash, and being quiet and courteous during the movie.) since the change over theatres have been messier by a wide margin. so that takes care of 2.
2 I know at my location we don’t force and have never forced anyone to of the shy adolecent grouping to do a speech, someone (anonther usher who enjoys making a fool out of themself, or a manager will do it instead.)
2<c> see my reponse to 2 and I think it’s pretty clear that while some may find it annoying most people don’t.
now lets deal with the ticket machines or Automated Box Offices (ABO) most people don’t like them because they are somewhat complicated and they also only accept debit and credit cards, while our box offices (the ones with people in them) also accept cash money and gift certificates. so that’s pretty simple.
Headsets and Radios: We use them so that one we know when a movie is about to go on screen so you don’t have to get up and close the door yourself (I will keep my hurtfull comments to myself and try to remain professional here). It is also good to know when your movie decides that you are unworthy to continue viewing it, that someone will be able to inform the projectionist that there is a problem so we can get it back up and running for you fine patrons who are also great upstanding citizens (Sorry I just got home from work when I found this and it was a rough night.)
Calling Cinemas Stadiums, before we start this either yourself or the usher needs to be corrected it’s Studios not Stadiums and we are still supposed to call them Cinemas or Auditoriums to avoid confusion with the name For example you saw insomnia in Cinema (or Auditorium) 6 at Empire Theatres Studio 8 Charlottetown. Studio 8 being the name.

Ok, the Stadium Seating (AKA the cheap plastic Wal-Mart style Seating.)Consider yourself lucky in my town before they built our new theater we have no stadium seating and if the person infront of you was taller than 6 feet you couldn’t see, these seats were also made of wood and wood is hard on your back when you sit in it for two hours. and the cup holders well unless you have oddly long arms or are taller than 6’4” (my height) then you really should have a problem with cup holders interfering with your arm resting since I don’t and I think I’d notice if my 44oz cup was in the way. (I measured my forearm and it’s 2 1/2 feet long)
And finally the thing that I hate most about working at the theatre! Kidz 8-21 years of age. you got a problem with someone in a theater tell the damn usher that’s what we are there for! if you haven’t noticed we come in every 30 minutes to check and we can’t catch everything if it bothers you that much get up off your ass and tell someone. two warnings and they are out so if you tell us maybe something will get fixed. And don’t tell me after the movie when the kids are leaving I can’t stop them then in case you haven’t noticed we don’t have commecially available time travel machines so I can’t go back in time and fix what happened (believe me I’d be much better off finacialy if I could.) and we can’t hold it against them the next time they come in because 1) it’s not legal. 2) I don’t have a photographic memeory. Oh and just to let you know Empire doesn’t sell M&M’s anymore we only use Hershey products now. Sorry for letting my temper get the better of me at the end but when people complain after the fact and their isn’t anything I can do about it it make me frustrated especially when it’s something that could be easily fixed if you’d just tell someone.
thanks for your time

Moviedude22's picture
Moviedude22 on January 13, 2005 - 06:22 Permalink

I agree with Usherman1…you all are complete morons. You can tell you’ve either 1)never worked at a theatre or 2)have worked at a theatre, but did such a shitty ass job, that you don’t know what the hell you are talking about. The theatre biz is the same as every other business. Wal mart buys an item for lets say…$5., then they turn around and charge $45….What the hell is the difference between Empire theatres and them??? NOTHING!!!!!!! So get over yourselves, stop being such a cheap ass prick, and pay the money to see the damn movie. Its certainly better quality than the one you’ll watch at home…if you have a home..but you probably live in a cardboard box in the back of the theatre..cuz you’re just that cool..
i’m out.

moviedude22's picture
moviedude22 on January 13, 2005 - 06:32 Permalink

ok..part two…might as well get this all off my chest in one night.
Downloading movies…piracy as its called…Sure..its FREE…and EASY…but theres no chance of gettin the samem quality and effects on your computer than you would in a movie theatre. Plus, its takin money away from the actual movie theatres. Some ppl will call us up and say..HEY…WHY AREN”T YOU GETTING THIS MOVIE!!(usually complaints about some independent movie)hrmmm…Mayyybbeeee….if you didn’t DOWNLOAD movies at your home, we would be able to afford to bring in the smaller budget movies…(garden state,for example)…but instead, you download movies, so therefore we have to bring in all teh big blockbuster movies to make the largest amount of money possible off the BIGGEST movies…which more room for the indie movies. WE ARE NOT MADE OF MONEY PPL!!! Yes..we charge a crap load at the food stand…but we don’t make and off the tickets..gotta make it somewhere!! And trust me..the money we make certainly doesn’t go towards the employees pays..we don’t get that Anyway, just thought i’d share that with ya’s..if ya got a rebuttal, post it.

Jerichoholic's picture
Jerichoholic on January 13, 2005 - 06:45 Permalink

It’s true…it’s true. Since our unhappy moviegoer seems to find anything and everything wrong with the Empire Theatres experience, the only available conclusion is that they in fact, do live inside of a cardboard box in the back of the theatre. Along with empty popcorn bags and rotten, unwanted leftovers as their only source of food and the dead hookers out back as their only means of company. The only reason they complain is so they can fool themselves into believing that their cardboard world is better than ours.

Seriously though, as another former employee of Empire Theatres, I can definately say that on more than one occasion, I have wished and wished that I would have the opportunity to tell people like you to shut…the hell…up! Usherman and Moviedude are completely correct in everything they’ve said, and I’m not sure how to say it any better, except just to tell you to stop being a jackass who finds any reason to complain. Empire Theatres really wasn’t a bad company to work for, and it was people like me and countless others who were instructed by head office to give you assclowns the time of your lives. However, that is obviously impossible since people still need a reason to bitch.

And as an addition to moviedude’s second post, yeah movie piracy is friggin retarded. You don’t understand that in order for people to keep making movies you want to see so bad, we all have to make money from it or it won’t be possible to make another. Money doesn’t fly out of thin air, even in Hollywood, baby.

I know I’m rambling quite a bit, and I apologize for that, but after working at the theatre for a year and a half, I finally get to tell one of you disgruntled customers exactly where you can take your complaints. These teenagers that you apparently feel so sorry for are doing their best to make sure you can escape reality for a couple of hours, so stop being an idiot about it.

Ken's picture
Ken on January 13, 2005 - 15:38 Permalink

Smells like teen spirit. Take a breath. Tending the sheep has made you jumpy, so have a nap. We know Empire theatres goes for the money makers, not the ‘Garden State’s because it is a reflection of the local market.

Why not take the night off, take in a movie at City Cinema, and relax.

I go to the movie’s to escape; at Empire I feel captured.

LOTGA's picture
LOTGA on January 17, 2005 - 12:34 Permalink

YOU feel captured, Ken? Try working there for X number of years (as some of these posters have).

But I will admit, City is a nice little venue, quaint.

Moviedude22's picture
Moviedude22 on January 19, 2005 - 06:36 Permalink

You feel captured at Empire Theatres??? How the hell do you feel captured there??? I’d really love to hear this explanation…enlighten the rest of us! Empire’s a pretty damn nice place to work…I dunno bout this City Cinemas place, but please…post your explanation as to how you feel “captured” at Empire Theatres…

Ken's picture
Ken on January 19, 2005 - 15:14 Permalink

On a busy night it’s like a cattle drive. Line up to pay, (it costs too much). Then line up again to overpay for a snack. Then on through the maze into your selected box. Then get lectured about your garbage. Then watch commercials for fifteen minutes before they start the movie. It just pisses me off every time I go, which is less and less to the point I don’t go anymore.

Empire theatres is a slaughter house for creativity.
Too big, too commercial, too much like a factory than a movie house. Could they be any more impersonal and crass?

Ken's picture
Ken on January 19, 2005 - 22:04 Permalink

I really hate the lecture about trash!

I despise seeing commercials since I already paid to see the movie!

These two things are the biggest irritants. Luckily I can avoid both at City Cinema.

Also, costs less and shows movies that let me escape beyond Hollywood!

Ken's picture
Ken on January 19, 2005 - 22:13 Permalink

The movie What The Bleep Do We Know, now playing at City Cinema makes the point exactly on the difference between the movies shown there, and at Empire:

…how people surrender to illusion, how it is possible to rewire the brain with thought…. What The Bleep Do We Know supports thinking, reading and learning and quietly condemns mainstream culture and that’s worth your money any day of the week


moviedude22's picture
moviedude22 on January 27, 2005 - 19:53 Permalink

If you like city cinema so much, stop goin to empire and stop bitchin about them too. Get over it. So to the little “city cinema” place, and get on with your life.
Oh…and your little reference between “what the bleep do we know” and empire theatres…well…i can take that same little movie and compare it to you…”what the bleep do you know” don’t work at empire, you don’t know what its like…so stop actin like you know everything.You dont.obviously…now get over yourself, and screw off.

MH's picture
MH on March 10, 2005 - 13:56 Permalink

You obviously know very little about being employed there.
First of all, there is about a 1/2 hour in between shows to clean up the theatres. If you go to McDonalds, Wendy’s, do you not empty your garbage into the garbage?

Also, you seem not to know that movie theatres make very little from ticket sales — that money goes back to company’s like “Paramount” and “Lions Gate Entertainment” — very little money is received from theatres. That’s why on Monday morning, the Box office sales for each movie are listed and the “movie brought in” that money — not the theatres.

I love it when people get mad at the staff for ticket prices — afterall, I’m sure a green shirt employee making minimum wage has the authority to up the prices.

As for line=ups being long, get over it! Why don’t you step behind the counter, ring in sales, and get your goddamn food too? You obviously have no idea what it’s like to serve 2000 people in one hour — a minimum wage job is sometimes not worth it! “paying 9.50 for the ticket so let them pick up my garbage?” what the hell? Man, I hear a banjo playing in the background — and the song is the “Dueling Banjoes”.

A little word of advice — know the facts before you make the criticism.

ah's picture
ah on August 30, 2005 - 03:35 Permalink

bravo to ET employees and laying out the facts to these otherwise misled and unaware members of the moviegoing public. i have been an employee of Et for over 4 yrs at 2 different locations so im not even going to get into how many stupid complaints of heard about anything you could possibly imagine having to do with the movies. all there is to it is — these people that posted their complaints about their experience at a movie obviously have no life and nothing better to do with their time but to complain about something so infantile.

so you dont like the stash your trash spiel? i bet you dont like waiting outside the theater to get inside either, while us employees pick up the devastion left behind by those sloppy pigs who just left

prices too high? too bad. yelling at us is no way to try and get yourself a discount and you can go to hell cuz they ain’t goin down in this lifetime.

and about the commercials…if you think about it, the theater gets paid to show them, thus getting more income and able to better absorb increasing costs therefore keeping your precious ticket prices lower than they could be. so, more commercials, more money for the company less that you pay. the movie business is exactly that, a business…and one that needs money to operate and make a profit, just like everything else. Would you charge people for something if it meant you were to lose money? i sure hope not cuz then you are just dumber than i thought.
im sure i could go on for hours
next time you want to complain about something — put yourself on the other side of the story for just a second and think about someone other than yourself.

TE's picture
TE on December 29, 2005 - 06:06 Permalink

I am currently an Employee at the newest Empire Theatre in Atlantic Canada.
1) I agree 100% with Usherman1, Moviedude22, MH, and AH.
2) We DO NOT have a digital pre-show.
3) As an usher I see just how many poeple come to see a movie, and where they buy their tickets from, about a thrid of all tickets are from the ABOs. The reason people perfer to buy tickets from the box office is A) to find out info from the person, B) decide if the movie is appropriate, C) they may not have a card to use the ABOs with.
4) The reson that we show the trailors for movies is to A) keep prices down, B) allow you the fine patrons to find out about upcoming movies, and C) give people a chance who may be waiting in the lobby a chance to get into the theatre and find a seat.
5) As for prices we are not a wholesale seller such as Cost-Co, Etc. We buy it from the company and in turn sell it to you, the fine patrons; also we run the movie even if no one shows up to see it, that means in February when we may have VERY few people show up to see a movie we lose a lot of money between heating the building and suppling power to run the projectors and the sound systems for the numerous theares. I take it you have not seen the size of one of these but they are not small. Also as was stated earlier we pay ALOT of money back to the movie Compays (Fox, MGM, Disney, Etc.) therefore we have a very small Profit Margin.
6) As for the headsets I suppose we Could lower prices by not having them but then when some needs something; popcorn seeds, etc,; they could just come into the cinema where we are making sure everything is just perfect for you the fine patrons and just yell across the room: “Hey I need a bag of popcorn seeds”. But then you would just complain about that as well.
While I am writing this I am looking at some other posts on this site and you seem to be doing alot of complaing. Just suck it up and deal with it. Go get laid or something.


PS- Feel free to e-mail me any comments

Olivia Rukavina's picture
Olivia Rukavina on May 29, 2022 - 12:00 Permalink

20 years!