AMC Theater Apparently Smells Indescribably Bad

Mike, who writes a blog called plasmasplasm, is upset about the smell of the AMC Century City 15 in Los Angeles. Here is how he describes the smell:

Yes, you are a great theater. You have large, new accommodations that really make the 7.50 I spend on a showing feel different from watching it on my laptop or friend’s TV. Your parking is usually free and you constantly have showings for stuff I’m into.

All of this stuff you can be lauded for ends up highlighting the bad stuff, worst of all is the smell.


The short hallways actually feel three times as long because your eyes start to water about three seconds onto the carpet. We’ve tried to explain to friends how bad it smells, and how deeply it permeates your being as you walk through it, but the scent is hideously ineffable.

Apparently the AMC is aware of the stench but is not really doing anything about it.

The manager said:

-They are very aware of the stink.
-They are working to get permission from the mall to put in a new air duct that leads to that hallway.
-They will not be replacing the carpet until they get permission to put in an air duct, and not until the air duct is built, because otherwise the carpet would just end up smelling bad again.

From the way the manager was reacting to my questions I’m sure that they’ve been hearing about this problem for a while now. I’ve noticed the stink for months, and I know it wasn’t there for many months after the place opened.

Mike asked us if we thought he and his friends deserved a stinky theater. No, Mike. We don’t think you do.

We suggest (aside from not going to the smelly theater anymore) calling or writing to AMC corporate (+1-816-221-4000), or, um maybe the Los Angeles Health Department?

Has anyone else smelled this theater? Does it really smell that bad?

Century City AMC smells like feet [PlasmaSplasm]


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Jay Sherman – “It STINKS!

  2. bambino says:

    sounds like the blockbuster video on ingram rd. in san antonio, texas. smells like the bathroom overflowed & noone bothered to clean the carpets.

  3. Christovir says:

    Perhaps their best bet is to go with some kind of hard flooring ASAP? It might not look as nice as carpet, but I’m sure it would smell better…

  4. timmus says:

    Well, if the manager chooses to drag his feet and lose repeat customers, then I guess that is free market action at work.

  5. @Christovir: They’re probably worried about people slipping on the hardwood floors, especially since people are carrying food and drink down there.

    What about complaining to the people managing the mall as well?

  6. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Have you had your sprinkle today? Dude, Sam’s club sells Carpet Fresh in bulk!!
    And Blockbuster does not need any olfactory offenses to stink.

  7. fluidfoundation says:

    I can attest that the one in Atlanta / Cobb area smells like old man stink.

    To be fair, I dont remember any movie theater smelling pleasent. The thought that goes through my mind during the “back to school” month is “how many kids with headlice put their heads up against this same chair…. hmm…..”

  8. Peeved Guy says:

    This is a new theater, yes?
    I wonder how new…? I’ve had the displeasure to smell new carpet a time or two, but the smell hasn’t lingered more that a week or two. They should contact the carpet contractor and get something worked out…

  9. taco1231 says:

    I saw Die Hard 4 in this theater, we had to hold our breath as we walked through the hall. The poster didn’t really do the smell justice. It’s like smelling a warm gym sock thats been sprayed by a skunk. Everyone entering and leaving the theater noticed it.

  10. ADM says:

    If he’s only paying $7.50, he should count his blessings. That same foot stink costs me at least $10.50 in the Bronx.

  11. iMike says:

    Actually he did describe the stench, so it’s not “indescribable.”

  12. capitolm94 says:

    I was just at this theater on saturday morning, and definitely noticed the smell. It has been there for months, and the theater is less than a year old. The only way to describe it is feet. It is like you are inside someone’s gym bag that has been fermenting in the sun for weeks. However, its not all bad news, since there is no smell inside the theater, and it is the nicest theater on the west side (in my opinion.)

  13. beyond says:

    Too bad there are no other theaters in the city that he and his friends could go to. If it smells that bad, just take your money elsewhere. Write a letter to the snotty manager telling him so. Maybe he will consider changing the carpet when he can’t pay the mall’s rent.

  14. juri squared says:

    @ADM: You beat me to it. It’s $9.50 at the AMC nearest my house in the Chicago burbs.

  15. Keter says:

    I quit going to “consumer” movie theaters because they all smell awful to me. Oppressive odors of overheated popcorn, stale spilled pop, kiddie odors, sticky, germ-laden floors and seats — EWW! The funk gets into clothing and hair just like cigarette smoke, so forget movie-and-dinner combos unless you like your filet mignon accompanied by eau du theater goo.

    If movie theaters want to increase business, they don’t need to blame online competition; they should focus on improving the user experience in their facilities so the movie-going experience is pleasant again! To see a movie theater model that works (and usually smells good), look up Alamo Drafthouse.

  16. KernelPanic says:

    No to name names but…

    The AMC Fashion Valley in San Diego has also developed movie theater stench. It’s been building over time but was particularly bad when we watched The Bourne Ultimatum.


  17. Poseidon says:

    Oh my God! That’s the theater I go to, and I always have to stuff my nose into my collar every time I enter or exit the auditorium! It really is strange, since the theater is pretty swanky otherwise.

    I knew I couldn’t be the only one who cared about this. Thank you so much for trying to put an end to it.

  18. 82300sd says:

    Why not get the health department in on this if the smell is so bad?

  19. oldhat says:

    I pay $9.50 as well.

    Los Angeles getting a discount on movies or something?

    Haha that’s okay, I’m laughing all the way to the pirate bay.

    Actually, I wait for netflix, since there isn’t anything worth the rush, but I would if I cared.

  20. Craig says:

    It sounds as though the problem is some type of mildew or mold given the theater’s proposed solution of installing a new duct. Soda gets spilled on the carpet, there isn’t enough air flow to dry it out properly, and bingo…little stinky nasties growing beneath your feet.

  21. SkyeBlue says:

    Jeez, now I odn’t feel so bad when I hand over my $5.00 to get into our little 2 movie theater here in the small town where I live!

  22. ahdn says:

    The only reason it costs $7.50 for this theater is because you can buy a bunch of “golden tickets” for AMC theaters at Costco (one of the best deals in the warehouse, if you ask me!). Otherwise, yes, this theater costs upwards of $10. Also, the stench has actually started to waft into the theater itself now, which was really the last straw, which lead to Michael’s complaint to the manager.

  23. quail says:

    Cinemas get their nasty smells from a number of areas. It reads from the description that this theatre manager is blaming poor a/c ductwork for not removing the humidity and is causing mildew. (???). Then he talks about the smell coming from the carpet. (???)

    About 90% of the funky smells come from colas running down a poorly slanted walkway or set of stairs, and pooling under the carpet. There the sugars ferment and turn rancid causing the worst stink imaginable. The only way to get rid of the odor is to rip up the carpet, acidize the concrete floor, level the floor if necessary, and put down a nonslip vinyl designed for heavy traffic areas. Add to that a more rigorous set of janitorial procedures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

    (My experience is that the majority of theatre managers don’t know what the hell they’re talking about most of the time anyway. Take his explanation about ductwork with a grain of salt. Also, AMC Cinemas has a byzantine managerial structure. If you didn’t speak to the Complex Manager then you’re guy isn’t the head honcho for the building.)

  24. crazylady says:

    there’s no way this theater has tickets for $7.50. It’s $11 for adults, regular pricing, and it only goes up from there for weekends and holidays. Parking isn’t free all the time either, unless you honestly only spend like 2-3 hours in total there.

    That being said, it does smell pretty funky but not like, vomit-inducing awful, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually smelled that inside the auditoriums, only in the hallway outside.

  25. nardo218 says:

    ($8.50 in Pennsylvania, btw)

    Yes, I know of the funk. It is that sweaty smell, but I swear there’s a urine smell in there too. And that awful butter smell mixed in. Only in the hallway.

    Why don’t they WASH the carpet once a week instead of replacing it??

  26. synergy says:

    @bambino: Have you been to the dollar theater near there? Holy Christ. With all the zillion kids left to run rampant around the theater because their parents don’t stop them, it’s just not worth it to watch the movies for cheap. I’ll wait for them from Netflix, thanks!

  27. synergy says:

    @Christovir: I agree. I’ve never understood the love of carpets. They harbor some truly disgusting stuff.

  28. synergy says:

    I agree. It’s probably the carpet being wet from spills that’s causing the stench from mildew. They should get on that quick or they could make their employees sick if it builds too much (since they spend the most time in the building inhaling spores).

  29. InsaneNewman says:

    @Keter: Yup, I just visited the website, and the Alamo Drafthouse sounds very similar to Hollywood Blvd. in the Chicago SW suburbs. It is the best movie theater I have ever been to, and because they have a full menu and bar, it always ends up being a good time. If you’re from the Chicago area, you should check it out!

  30. catskyfire says:

    The love of carpets: They muffle noise, and they’re generally non-slip. They make walking on concrete slightly less painful. And they make people feel they are in a nice indoor place rather than an industrial complex (even if that is what it is.)

    That said, a little carpet washing would help, and maybe hit it with some anti-whatever.

  31. crankymediaguy says:

    “If he’s only paying $7.50, he should count his blessings. That same foot stink costs me at least $10.50 in the Bronx.”

    As a Bronx native, I have to ask which theater is only charging $7.50?

  32. STrRedWolf says:

    I used to work for the biggest multiplex theater in Maryland (24 screens), and matinée (before 5pm) showings were aprox $6.50, and a Saturday 10am showing was roughly $5. They also had a “Book of tickets” that on bulk was $6 per ticket.

    Ugh. I know they raised prices again.

    But on the smell, yes, they need to steam-clean that carpet at the least. Definitely contact the AMC HQ and the LA Health Department at the same time.

  33. rsg2003 says:

    Apparently “funk” is a common theme among AMC theatres. The AMC Clifton Commons in Clifton, NJ has the lovely aroma of hot garbage and butt-crack surrounding the building at least once a week. Since this theatre is smack in the middle of a “shopping center” that has 3 restaurants, a supermarket, a Target, a Barnes & Noble, and a sporting goods store within sniffing range, I’m sure I’m not the only who’s noticed.

    Aside from the stench and the roving bands of pubescent pre-teeners and gang members, the theatre isn’t half-bad. I wonder if Glade makes an outdoor plug-in.

  34. sled_dog says:

    Maybe they’re buying cheap Chinese carpet?

  35. bambino says:

    @synergy: Do you mean the cinemark ones? haven’t been there in 15 years. it was a shit-sty back then too.

  36. joen05 says:

    Hey everyone, just thought I’d make a few comments working in a movie theatre myself. Carpet cleaning is expensive, and theatre budgets just don’t allow for it every week. As for cleaning up carpet spills, my theatre gets them as soon as they’re down, and there is no “feet” smell here.

    As for the discount tickets, check out your local wholesaler or even the company website on how to buy tickets in bulk to save yourself money. Keep in mind there’s a surcharge for Manhattan theatres though. Hope this helped!

  37. gibsonic says:


    if a business can’t keep itself sanitary then it doesn’t deserve to be in business.

  38. ahdn says:

    @crazylady: Again, go to Costco and get golden tickets. I promise, it will only end up costing $7.50 per show.

  39. L1F3 says:

    I stopped going to the Century 15 last November when on the last screening of their print of “The Prestige” they decided that it wasn’t worth turning down the AC for the 15 patrons or so in the theatre. Everyone was shivering & talking to one another about how cold it was. It took me 15min to find a single employee who then referred me to the manager who it took another 5min to come downstairs. They informed me that the AC would be turned off. When i got back it was off & then turned on again automatically which means the thermostat was still set to 55 degrees AND they hadn’t turned it off! At this point a few people left & i spoke with the manager again who reassured me that the AC had been turned off. Back in my seat the air is blasting my date & i’ve missed over 30min of the film. That’s when the print had it’s optical track shredded during the reel change & with no projectionist in the booth (WTF?!) the reel went on another 10min went by with everyone snickering & shouting up to the booth before several of us went to find the manager (again). At this point we are told that they won’t finish the film & send us on our way with a free ticket. Needless to say, i haven’t been back. I had previous issues with that particular theatre before but that was the final straw. My opinion in general on corporate multiplexes is DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY!!! I’d much rather go to places like the New Beverly Cinema, Nuart, Silent Movie Theater, AERO, etc.

  40. FLConsumer says:

    It’s not just a California thing… I’ve noticed the same thing in the movie theatres in Florida as well. The one Muvico I went to in Tampa smelled WORSE than any locker room I’ve been in, short of a locker room full of rank hockey gear (there’s nothing else worse). I have no doubt that the smelly kids & teens are to blame for much of it, but theatres aren’t going to kick them out over this — they’re trying to stay alive with the ever-dwindling revenue stream.

    There’s a couple of local beer & wine theatres I give my business to, otherwise I just avoid the hassle and call up a few friends to watch movies at my home. Food’s better, audience is better (usually), and I have a far better sound system & projection system than any of the theatres in these parts do, short of the IMAX theatres.

    On ticket prices, there’s no reason to pay retail. Not sure about up north, but AAA has movie tickets from $6.00 for adults. Also, go digging through your desk drawer for your old college student ID. I still use this trick claiming to be a grad student, works every time.

  41. loueloui says:

    All together now…‘Oooooh that Smell. Can’t you smell that smell?”

    I I can’t say anything because the AMC near me is AWESOME but expensive ($9.50 for tickets).

    I grew up in North Miami Beach, and there was this 99 cent double feature that developed a stink. Apparently they tried everything to get rid of it, but it persisted. They had to lower their price to 50 cents just to fill up seats. Eventually they ended up shutting down, a victim of the stench.

  42. Nytmare says:

    I feel sorry for the poor ticket takers who have to smell it every minute of their working life.

  43. SJActress says:


    A carpet cleaning machine is $100-$800. A theater can’t afford this and the $5 a week it would take to buy the detergent? I worked in an INDEPENDENT VIDEO store and we could afford it.
    No wonder my tickets are $10 and my small drink is $3.50.

  44. I thought to myself “suckers, at least my theater doesn’t smell!”. Then I checked and it actually was my theater, which I live across the street from. Curses!

    Guess I’ve only seen flicks upstairs and never noticed the stink of a thousand feets.

  45. mrearly2 says:

    The manager is obviously an idiot. If the carpet is harboring the bulk of the odor, all they have to do is remove it, and if there’s concrete under it, that’s fine. Just make sure it’s not too smooth, so as to avoid someone slipping on it.
    They can replace the carpet whenever.