Movie Theater Pays $10,000 Damages In Snack Search Lawsuit

What ruins your movie-going experience more than being searched for surreptitious snacks? Having your mom discover that you’re taking birth control pills when movie theater employees go through your purse.

This happened to a family in Montreal, Canada, and their solution was to sue the theater for $60,000 (54,942.86 USD)

Staff at the theatre were searching customers’ bags for video equipment that could be used for movie piracy.

Security guards didn’t find any video equipment in the family’s bags, but did turn up a large selection of snack food, which they asked the family to take back to their vehicle, Lurie said.

The judge in the case ruled that theaters are within their rights to search customers’ bags, but only if the policy is made clear at the time customers buy their tickets. The family received $10,000 ($9,162 USD) in damages for the violation of their privacy.

Cinema ordered to pay $10K in damages for search [CTV] (Thanks, Chester!)

(Photo: erin_m)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Joeb5 says:

    I have taken food in to ball packs and movie theaters in plain site and they don’t care so why does Canada have to?

    • meneye says:

      @Joeb5: Because it’s Canada, and they have nothing else to worry about

      • Anonymous says:

        @Joeb5: @Joeb5: @Joeb5:


        Yeah, nothing at all to worry about in Canada..except that little recession that’s going on up here too, and the fact that we up here worry about people in other countries as well.

        The fact that one movie theatre in Canada was strict with its policy doesn’t mean all of them are. The movie theatres in my city don’t really seem to care, though I don’t advertise that I’m taking Subway into the theatre with me.

      • Benny Gesserit says:

        @meneye: You say that like it’s a bad thing, Yankee.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Joeb5: Because of the penguin ushers staffing Canadian stadiums, of course. Do you think that herring grows on trees? Do you?!

    • KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

      some places here (long island, ny) are stricter than others
      luckily, my favorite theater really doesn’t care when i walk in with food
      i’ve brought my entire dinner in with me one time.
      i also brought a box of pizza during a matinee … they actually told me the only reason they were letting me in is cuz there wasnt really anyone around to see them do it.

    • uncle moe says:

      @Joeb5: while i’ve never seen customers searched for sneaking in candy, i worked at a theater for about 3 years during high school and no movie theater willingly allows its patrons to bring outside food in to their movie, US or canada

      • Ragman says:

        @uncle moe: I went into a theater once and found an empty 12 pack of beer on the floor. Of course, considering it wasn’t picked up between showings kinda tells you how concerned they were.

      • nakedscience says:

        @uncle moe: AMC here does.

      • mcnerd85 says:

        @uncle moe: Those policies changed awhile back. I worked for AMC for about four years when I was a kid. They got sued for not letting a diabetic bring in her water and banana….and abolished that little policy. :x

    • Gramin says:


      No theater permits patrons to bring in outside food. Most of a theater’s revenue comes from the sale of food and beverages, not from ticket sales.

      • RandomZero says:

        @uncle moe: @Gramin: Err, I’m confused. If no theatre would ever allow outside food… why did the head of Empire Theatres (the primary Atlantic Canada chain, subsidiary of one of the big guys) state on-record to the press that there’s no policy barring outside food as long as it’s not disruptive (ie, ten tons of trash, noisy, or smelly)?

        That said, bringing it in openly would take the fun out of seeing how much you can smuggle in without being obvious.

      • Cyberxion101 says:

        @Gramin: The theater in the Park Mall in Tucson, Az does. It’s in the food court, so folks routinely walk in with food and drinks, and the fine people that work there never make any bones about it.

    • RandomZero says:

      @Joeb5: Almost forgot to note – this isn’t Canada caring about it, it’s Montreal. Montreal is pretty much the inversion of the Canadian stereotype – I’ve never seen so many angry Francophones in one place. Then again, they’re probably justified in their anger, inasmuch as that they have to drive on Montreal.

  2. Mackinstyle says:

    Haha. True. I also love how everything about this story is so reasonable.

    Yeah, they have the right to search if that’s the policy. However it is unfortunate that you were harmed by this search. 60K is too much. Take 10K instead.

    Listen, I know you guys have the Big 3 to deal with, but we’re up to our necks in teenage girls trying to smuggle Big League Chew into Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

    • dialing_wand says:

      @Mackinstyle: We bought more of the general, per capita, than our neighbours to the south, so they don’t really have that excuse either.

      We just like seeing what people carry around with them and don’t have machines to strip search them at the airports.

  3. ajlei says:

    I used to be more frightened of bringing candy into theaters as a kid but when I do it now I feel fine doing it. I’ve never seen any movie theater have a sign posted saying bags will be searched, and you can bet I would put up a fight if they tried (without a sign).

    As for the discovery of birth control, the article doesn’t seem to say how old the “older daughter” is but as a parent I would at least be happy that she was taking the proper precautions.

    And, as for this statement:

    “And we’re not allowed to put our hands in your bag, which is totally understandable. I don’t want to put my hands in your bag. In fact, leave the bags in the car.”

    This is great. Just leave your purse in the car in a parking lot where vandals know that car is going to sit there unattended for multiple hours at a time. Theaters just need to come to terms with the fact that people aren’t going to spend $4 on an 89 cent bag of Skittles.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @ajlei: C’mon, it’s Canada.
      Potential car thieves leave a nicely-penned note under the wiper asking, “Is it okay if we take a quick look? Please?!” With a Yes/No checkbox and an RSVP space for a time and location that’s convenient for all concerned.
      And the follow-up Thank You note? Absurdly elaborate.

      • ajlei says:

        @Trai_Dep: Haha.. I don’t want to be stereotypical but that seems a little too close to be made up. No, some friends and I drove up to Vancouver, BC when we were 19 to go drinking (we were already up in Bellingham, WA, or even I would have found it excessive to drive there) for the night and after getting completely wasted and pretty much dragging our friend through the streets while we asked people directions back to our hotel, everyone was helpful and we did not get mugged or attacked or anything. Plus the hotel we were in had a very popular gay bar on the bottom floor so there were all sorts of fun and exciting people coming through.

    • CumaeanSibyl says:

      @ajlei: Even though I’m a firm supporter of birth control, I don’t think I’d choose the middle of a movie-theater lobby to find out that my (hypothetical) daughter was probably having sex. Especially since I’d be finding out along with my other family members, the theater employee searching the bag, and anybody who happened to be standing close enough to see what was going on. “How great that she’s being responsible” would probably be the thought furthest from my mind at that moment.

    • idip says:

      @ajlei: I recently went to see a screening of Angels and Demons where they made everyone put their cell phones in their cars.

      I was rather pissed because I never leave anything valuable in my car because car break ins are on the rise in my city.

      To make matters worse, some people didn’t do it, and they didn’t do anything to them. Sigh.

      • bravohotel01 says:

        @idip: Now you know what to do for next time: don’t wuss out.

        • este says:


          Ha, I love the knee jerk reaction to girls having sex.

          You’re all hypocrites. Either you’ve boned a girl or enabled someone else to :)

          F’in Christian society that thinks sex is evil.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @ajlei: Even if your daughter is using birth control, you will NOT be happy to find out she’s having sex.

      • nakedscience says:

        @cmdrsass: she could be taking birth control but NOT having sex, you know. i know many teens who take it for health reasons (known by their mother or not).

        • babyruthless says:

          @nakedscience: I would guess that if you were taking the pill because you had endometriosis or something, then you would have told your mom about your problem, she would have taken you to the gyno, and then you would have gotten the Rx. I think if you are taking it for health problems, mom knows. If you are taking it because you are/are thinking of becoming sexually active, not so much.

  4. dvdchris says:

    Sorry, but no pimply faced theater employee is EVER searching me or anything on my person. They are not the police and I am not getting on a plane.
    This piracy crap has been elevated to a level of idiocy that is beyond belief.

    • Wombatish says:

      @dvdchris: Go to a different theater.

      While I don’t agree with searches, it is within their rights.

      • Wombatish says:

        @Wombatish: Well, go to a different theater, or try to change the law. But if it’s the law, and you’re informed before you buy tickets and such, they’re being reasonable about it, as unreasonable as the thing they want to do may be.

        • Girtych says:


          That’s just it, though. Do the theaters actually say that they have the right? I know that I’ve never been to a theater that has publicly posted that buying a ticket means you agree to allow theater staff to search through your belongings.

          • ajlei says:

            @Girtych: Exactly. Excluding music theaters/ballrooms/etc, I’ve never seen a cinema with a sign like that.

          • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

            @Girtych: As it is private property, yes, it is within their legal right to search.

            Presumably posted signs to that effect wouldn’t be necessary either, though that does seem to be a part of the judge’s ruling. So long as the theater offers a full refund if the search is refused and the patrons are shown the door.

            I think the real issue though was the impracticality of the daughter refusing the search after her parents already consented to it. Is she supposed to cool her heels in the parking lot alone for two hours while the remainder of the family enjoys the movie, or is she then supposed to convince them to also refuse the search and all leave together?

            It could have been worse for her though, Imagine instead of birth control, she had a baggie of pot in her purse? Not as big of a deal in Canada as in the US, but either way would have probably caused even more embarrassment, and made it quite awkward to file a suit over the incident.

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @mianne: don’t know what the laws are in canada – but disney makes it pretty clear that they do a bag check at every point before you purchase tickets. i worked there in 2001 and the bag checks started september 12th. they didn’t put signs up at first and then they were forced to.
              they do the bag checks before you go through the gate though, so that if you purchased, then saw the bag check and objected, you could get your refund. and if it’s been less than an hour you could even get a refund for the price of parking.

              • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

                @catastrophegirl – manic first time home buyer: Yes, I am aware of Disney’s policy. (Visited DisneyWorld a couple years ago) I didn’t mind the bag search, but I feel the fingerprint scan is unreasonable.

                Again, an interesting case could be made for a child refusing a search that their parents’ consented to. But reading your post made me wonder about a suit seeking refund of hotel, airfare and other related expenses if a prospective patron built a case that they made a trip specifically to visit a Disney park, were unaware of the bag search, and refused it.

                I’d ask for a Consumerist to volunteer for this project, but reading this post unfortunately prevents you from honestly claiming you were unaware of their policy.

                • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

                  @mianne: Already see some of the Defense’s arguments in this hypothetical case creeping up though.

                  1: You traveled via commercial airline to visit Disney World? Were you subjected to a physical search of your person and belongings at that time?

                  2: Entering this courthouse also requires you to pass through metal detectors and have your bags searched, is that correct?

                  Ergo, if you’re willing to be searched to travel to visit a location, and to sue the same location. You lose credibility for refusing the search at the actual location itself.

                • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                  @mianne: unless something changed since i quit working in disney guest relations in 2004, there’s no fingerprint scan. i think maybe you mean the biometric reader? if you are thinking of the little machine at the ticket reader where you put your index and middle fingers in when you swipe your ticket
                  – it measures the length and width of your finger bones.
                  there’s been a real problem with people “renting out” their annual passes for a long time and that helps [not completely] defeats that.

                  think about it…. thousands of people a day putting there fingers on the scanner and it never gets cleaned? it would be a nightmare to get a clear fingerprint off that

          • Wombatish says:

            @Girtych: Private Property. They can do almost anything they want as long as you consent to it (you consent by not leaving) and it’s not blatantly illegal.

            And all I’m saying that if random theater A wants to search people’s bags, and they let you know ahead of time, random theater A is within their rights. I’m also within my rights to go to random theater B instead, since they don’t search bags.

            And yeah, I do think they should be required to post notification of possible search before you buy tickets. And post it -obviously-, not discretely.

            Personally, it would hurt their business to do searches, since I seriously doubt 100% of theaters will ever search in the good ol’ USA.

            • Wombatish says:

              @Wombatish: Notification on the website by the showtimes would also be really good, so you know before making the trek out there.

  5. mbz32190 says:

    Movie theaters, it seems, have gotten a lot more lenient about “outside food”. I remember in the early 90’s we had to sneak food in a diaper bag or my grandmother’s purse because they would “search” you and/or ask you what is in the bag. Now, theaters must be greatful that people are still buying tickets. I have been able to walk right in carrying bags from the neighboring grocery store stuffed with food in plain sight (I usually still end up buying theater popcorn though–anything store bought isn’t quite the same)

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @mbz32190: “Diaper bag…”
      BOY, I hope you never confused the two bundles inside the bag, it being dark and all.
      “It’s peanutty Goobers! NOM NOM NOMMIE NOM NOM!”
      “No, these are the Goobers!”

    • korybing says:

      @mbz32190: I’ve never had a problem taking my own food into theaters. That might be because I’ve been going to small town podunk theaters all my life, but I didn’t even know they could search your bags for that stuff.

      What do they expect when they charge 5 bucks for a small popcorn?

  6. Esquire99 says:

    Everyone needs to take a deep breath. Now, read carefully. This occurred in CANADA, not in the United States. They have different laws there. If you don’t like it, don’t visit.

    That said, I’m not convinced that this wouldn’t pass muster in the US. Private businesses should have the right to search you if they want. You retain the right to refuse to do business with them. If you don’t want to be searched, don’t patronize their theater.

    • huadpe says:

      @Esquire99: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does protect against unlawful searches in a very similar fashion to the 4th amendment.

      However, both the Charter and the US Constitution apply to the government, not movie theaters.

    • Canino says:

      @Esquire99: I agree with you, if it’s their policy and people submit willingly before going in, that’s fine.

      However, I still don’t think it’s a good policy for theater owners to implement. There are way too many bad things that can happen.

      Think about it – you pay some kids minimum wage to work at your theater and you’re going to give them the responsibility to make the correct decisions about how to search people and their belongings? Looking in women’s purses and in people’s coats?

      Some states have concealed carry…they’re going to find legally carried guns. Then what? They don’t know they’re legal. Are they going to out someone? Call the cops every time? What happens when the teenage employee’s parents find out they’re finding guns at work?

      And searching people’s children? How long is it going to take for some little girl’s parents to claim a dropout teenager felt the kid up during one of these searches for candy?

      I sure wouldn’t take that risk if I was a theater owner or manager.

      • shepd says:


        >Some states have concealed carry…they’re going to find legally carried guns. Then what?


        Okay, not the last part, but I’m pretty sure CCW permits are only valid in all public places and private places that don’t specifically deny them. I can’t imagine a movie theatre (or, quite frankly, most retail establishments) losing business by losing business from people packing heat.

        • Canino says:

          @shepd: You’re not wrong, but it’s still going to happen.

          I don’t think many theater managers are going to think about that aspect of it (finding legal firearms) until after the first time it happens (or the second, or the third, or whenever his employees decide to say something). And even after that, some states have very specific signage requirements the manager would have to research and spend time and money to implement correctly.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Canino: I’m pretty sure that if a Canadian ran into some foreigner insisting on carrying a loaded, concealed firearm into a pitch-black area packed with children and civilians, they’d tase the person, institutionalize them, then tase them again, just for the Hell of it.

        • secret_curse says:

          @Trai_Dep: Why is it that every thread that gets stretched to concealed carry you turn up and freak out about guns being around children? A responsible gun owner is not going to harm a child by being near it with a loaded gun.

          I also don’t understand why you brought up Canada in this thread. The story from the article happened in Canada, but this thread was started by Esquire99 bringing up the issues that might surround a similar case in the US.

          • Trai_Dep says:

            @secret_curse: Because I’m a common-sense guy, and much regret is avoided by avoiding bad situations before they occur. It’s something you learn pretty quickly growing up and living in the Big City.
            C’mon, realistically: when was the last time Red Dawn happened, for real, from a darkened room packed with kids? You guys operate on such a weird, paranoic world populated by way too many Steven Seagal characters.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @Canino: yeah, what about when some untrained 16 year old opens my medicine pouch inside my purse and fumbles with my insulin and needles and drops something or sticks himself?

  7. dialing_wand says:

    But because the US is the US, even if you did just visit, you might not get back


    (Or they might not let you visit.)

  8. Ronin-Democrat says:

    If they were searching for recording equipment than a simple opening of the bag should have been sufficient.
    When the bag was opened and they saw a mound of food they were within their rights to say leave that in your car.

    What I don’t understand is why the employee has their hand in the woman’s bag and was pulling out small individual items for inspection.

  9. EinhornIsAMan! says:

    Hey, I mean they make most of their income from the concessions, so it’s understandable. I bring my own food though, because $10 for a soda and a popcorn is criminal.

    The only thing I would have a problem with is smelly foods. But, I have yet to see someone eat a burrito/tuna salad/indian food in a movie theatre. You bet your ass I would get the manager though

    • ajlei says:

      @TheDayIsMine: I’m laughing at the idea of someone bringing in burritos, tuna salads, or indian food. You’d need to bring in a tv tray to hold it all.

      • korybing says:

        @ajlei: I had a friend sneak an entire KFC bucket into a theater once. I have no idea how he did it, but it happened.

    • shepd says:


      Many of the theatres here (ON, Canada) sell, along with the usual stuff, Hotdogs, French Fries, Pizza, Taco Bell, KFC, and frozen yogurt.

      Yep, fo’ realz. I do enjoy eating fries while I watch a movie, though, but putting ketchup on them is difficult during a horror movie. :)

    • lordargent says:


      In some of the upper class malls in mexico, they sell food right at the theatre. You can take sushi, and even beer into the theatre itself.

      /crazy stuff

      • veg-o-matic says:

        @lordargent: I nearly flipped the first time I went to a Cinepolis and saw that I could get a cappuccino and crepes instead of the ol’ chili sauce popcorn.

        Oh how I miss Mexican movie theaters.. the crap heap that is Cinemark makes me miss them that much more.

      • korybing says:

        @lordargent: We have an independent theater here that serves home-made cookies and beer and wine. It’s gotten so popular that our giant cineplex is talking about selling alcohol, too.

        Anything to get you through that horrible kid’s flick.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @lordargent: We have theaters in Texas that specifically have tables and menus in the theater where you can order food and beverages (Inlcuding beer/wine).. It’s really neat to do.. if only the food was better for the prices.

        One of them is called the Alamo Draft House.. and the other is The Movie Tavern.

    • chargernj says:

      @TheDayIsMine: In North Bergen NJ (I think), there used to be on of those cheap theathers that showed slightly older movies for $2 a ticket. They also showed Bollywood films and served Indian food which I thought was funny at the time.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @TheDayIsMine: One time, my friends and I went to a really, really empty showing of a movie and there were probably…two people inside? We had gone to a Chinese restaurant before the movie, and when my friend saw there were barely any people in the theater, we sat down and he resumed eating his food.

  10. FLConsumer says:

    So… the theater basically settled for 300 tubs of popcorn. Considering how many tubs of popcorn are sold on a weekend at the average chain theater, this settlement won’t even show up on the monthly P&Ls.

    I prefer to support the local dinner theater. Not a chain and they serve real food! Drinks are a bit on the pricey side, but food’s fairly priced, comparable prices to AppleFridayTuesdays.

  11. jamesdenver says:

    Not everyone has a car or nearby bus station lock to store their belongings in.

    I live downtown and might go straight from work to a movie or out to dinner with my bag, sans car.

    If I have a couple power bars in my bag, (which I always do being type 1 diabetic,) I’m not going to trash them.

    Yes it’s within their right – but it’s within my right to simply ignore them and walk to my seat in the dark theater and let them interrupt everyone else looking for me.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @jamesdenver: That was my thought. I can take the subway to the theater and always have a couple of energy bars in my backpack. Heck, I’ve even carried in my groceries (not much, mind you), so it’s not like they can afford to be massive pricks.

      But the Boston Garden still won’t let you carry in a bag of any kind (except a purse) and they search those. It’s a real pain if you try to catch a game on the way home with your briefcase still with you.

    • FoxCMK says:

      @jamesdenver: Very good point…being diabetic can certainly complicate things.

  12. Lucky_Strike-001 says:

    If the theater in the city where I live EVER tried to search my fiancee’s back we would say no thanks and never return to that theater. Now that I think of it. No one I know has ever been searched for anything. I think most of them are not going to want to open up that can of lawsuit worms.

  13. Happy13178 says:

    This isn’t common in Canada. Its not like you get your stuff searched every time you go see a movie…not even close. The only times I’ve ever seen anyone get their bags searched in any Toronto theatre is when going into a sneak preview/pre-screening of a movie before its general release date. If nothing else, its too time consuming to do it to everyone coming into the theatres. 20 theatres x 200-300 ppl per theatre x new showing every 2.5 hours = a shitload of bags to search. Most can’t be bothered.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    This embarrassing possibility is precisely why my older sister carried a large pink* dÃ∂iÃ∂lÃ∂dÃ∂oÃ∂ personal, battery-powered device in her handbag when going to the movies with the ‘rents. Once Shamu broke for air, awkward conversations about her discrete pill-pack were completely forgotten.
    * Because she’s a lady, damn it!

    • ajlei says:

      @Trai_Dep: Jeez, most people (well, most men) freak out at the sight of tampons in a bag. I have to get bag checks at work when I leave, and more than once a male employee will look in, and quickly look away upon sight of one. I can’t imagine the reactions a… er… personally battery-powered device would elicit.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @ajlei: I remember the first time that I went clubbing with a friend who needed to have tampons on hand but didn’t want to pack her bag, so since I was wearing cargoes, she asked me to carry them.
        Momentary brain-freeze as my mind spun furiously in circles, paralyzed by Guy Brain Paralysis. Then I overcame it, shrugged and it was no problem from then on.
        But yeah, don’t know why, but it’s a weird Guy Brain thing until it’s beaten with a stick. :)

  15. XTC46 says:

    Title is misleading…which is lame, they weren’t searching for snacks, they were searching for video equipment, they ended up finding snacks, but that’s irrelevant.

    I dislike expensive food in theaters, but understand that is how they make their money so I support them and buy it. The theater I go to also has a concierge club (vip club) which I pay about $100/yr to be a member of that allows me to reserve seats (not just tickets, the actual seats I want for me and my guests, and we are escorted in by the usher) bypass all lines (even for premiers) and when I have gone out to eat before a show, they have put my food in their refrigerator while we enjoyed the move. I also have a unlisted number for the desk that manages this club so I get an answer when I call in under 4 rings typically.

    Before having this membership I enjoyed going to the movies, but was on edge about spending so much money, now its fantastic. I see all the movies I want, with 0 hassle and all the benefits.

  16. takes_so_little says:

    When I was a teenager, my friends and I would stop at Taco Bell for soft taco 6-packs on our way to the movies. We just carried them right in, never had a problem. Not saying it was right, just reminiscing.

    At the independent theater the wife and I go to now, the snacks are actually from the bakery next door, and not even too pricey. You can get a decent sized cheesecake brownie and a coffee for $2.50.

    • FoxCMK says:

      @takes_so_little: Oh wow, I’d support a theater like that in a heartbeat.

      • takes_so_little says:

        @cmkennedy: Check your nearest city for indie theaters, you might have one and not know it. The one I go to is in a medium-to-small sized city, but that place is PACKED on a Friday or Saturday night.

        • HogwartsAlum says:


          I think there’s one here that serves beer but I’ve never been to it. I don’t like beer so that’s not a big deal for me. But if they had pastries or something I would love it.

    • korybing says:

      @takes_so_little: yeah! We have an indie theater here that sells good-priced beer and wine and home-made baked goods for reasonable prices. It’s great! I have no problem supporting them. They also have honest-to-goodness intermissions in the middle of films too, which is great for everybody, especially in long movies where you need a bathroom break, a stretch, or a refill on your decently-priced popcorn. I wish all theaters were so thoughtful.

      • takes_so_little says:

        @korybing: “I wish all theaters were so thoughtful. “

        All we can do is patronize the ones that are and help generate word of mouth.

        • korybing says:

          @takes_so_little: The only problem is that our indie theater is doing quite well, and for some reason the giant 16-screen monstrosity that’s on the clear other side of town seems to think that the indie theater is threatening competition (even though the indie theater only plays, well, uh, INDIE films that don’t come anywhere near any of the other theaters). Instead of seeing why people are supporting the theater (interesting unique movies, great atmosphere, reasonable prices, good food, beer) they instead tried all they could to get the theater shut down.

          Luckily it didn’t work, but it’s still a little obnoxious and seems counter-intuitive.

      • HogwartsAlum says:



        Oh that’s for me. I can’t make it through a whole movie.

  17. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Okay I HAVE to share this story – because let’s face it ALMOST EVERYONE hates the RETARDICULOUSly high prices for food at the theater and sneaks food in.

    Well I call this story “HAMBURGLER”.

    My brother and I did the Mickey D’s run, and had everything hidden, and are coming into this theater, and are giving our tickets to the ticket check guy, and after I make it past – my brother blows it…

    The guy stops him and is like, sir, sir, open your jacket. My brother does and the burger, which he had stuffed in without its box, pops out of his jacket, hits the floor and perfectly rolls all the way down like 74 stairs and explodes at the bottom. (A drum roll and cymbal crash would be perfect here.)

    I have not ever laughed so hard in my life, along with like 50 other people, because of course he had to do this in front of God and everybody.

    At that point, I could have cared less about the movie, I had just received more than enough comedic value for any movie ticket.

    So I went out, got our money back and consoled him, and we went back to Mickey D’s, got this ham-Burglar another burger and off to another theater we went (successfully this time).

    Everybody happy – Movie Theater 1 ticket nazi did his job and saved the theater from hamburglar, we all got to die laughing at poor Mark and he got another burger past the next ticket nazi in the end.

  18. oldgraygeek says:

    I have a concealed carry permit. There is a little tiny sign on the door of our neighborhood cinema that prohibits bringing firearms into the theater.
    Of course, we all know how expensive guns are if you buy them inside the theater — not to mention the ridiculous price of hollow-point ammo — so I bring my own.

    The sign does not have “force of law” in my state, so the worst they can do if I’m discovered is ask me to leave, but I’m still concerned. If a package of birth control pills gets this much news coverage, imagine the media circus that will ensue when they find my Glock 29…

    • FoxCMK says:

      @oldgraygeek: Ha!

      It’s private property, no doubt, so they have every right to respectfully request you do not bring in a concealed firearm.

      I probably wouldn’t CC in a movie theater. I feel bad enough about bringing my cell phone in there.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @oldgraygeek: The signs don’t have force of law where you are? That’s strange. I think if they did find your gun on you, it would be a media circus and a push to amend the law.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @oldgraygeek: @Coles_Law: The signs don’t have force of law where I live, either. My state constitution grants me the right to carry a firearm anywhere I damn well please with precious few exceptions. Private property owners cannot override my constitutional rights in this matter. They CAN ask me to leave, and they CAN have me officially “trespassed” meaning I can be arrested for trespassing if I return, but this all presumes they find my gun in the first place.

      Yes, I carry, virtually everywhere I go and I consider signs like these to be nothing more than requests – which I ignore. They don’t know I have a gun and I won’t be consenting to any searches; if they demanded it, I’d turn tail and walk out. If they tried to detain me – well, that’s why I carry.

      • fatcop says:

        @jimconsumer: I completely agree with you. Free market at work. Unfortunately, it’s a very rare state that does not give the no firearm signs force of law. I can certainly tell you in KS, the signs must be obeyed at the risk of your license and possibly your freedom.

      • Philip Gort says:

        I don’t know what state you live in but I just took the CPL class in Michigan. So having just listened to a lawyer on the subject I agree that you cannot be charged with CCW on private property, however you can be prosecuted for trespassing if found to be carrying concealed (the sign is your warning, you ignore it they can take you to court). So be careful travelling outside your state as your home state laws wouldn’t apply.
        Also, don’t make brash statements like implying you would shoot someone for illegally detaining you. There are no states with laws that permit deadly force for being illegally detained.. you would be fasttracked to prison. It gives a bad name to everyone who carry’s concealed responsibly.

  19. tkates says:

    Suddenly my idea for the popcorn puffy jacket doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Imagine it — you put the jacket in the microwave and pop the popcorn. The jacket looks puffy and will keep you warm in the winter, and you won’t get the smell of popcorn until you rip open a sleeve and dive in. Of course, there is the issue of what you wear when you leave the theater, but I’m an inventor, not some logical person.

    So the daughter got the $10,000 CAN, I hope?

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @tkates: Probably the parents.. for their mental anguish about their daughter and her activities.. lol.

  20. Go Pug Yourself says:

    I would have gone Keifer Sutherland on the pimple face movie theater usher douche.

  21. sanjsrik says:

    I think we’re all missing the fact that all posts must end with “eh”?

  22. EdnaLegume says:

    what’s this all aboot, eh? birth control in a girls handbag? scandalous. I can add this to my list of reasons why I wait for it on DVD. *insert rolley eyes emote here*

  23. takes_so_little says:

    Hm. I object to being searched, but it may be the right of the proprietor.

    I think more realistic concession prices would benefit them, though. People are lazy; if they could buy candy and pop at the prices paid at any other store or restaurant, they’d just buy it at the theater, it’s convenient.

    I know the proprietor SHOULDN’T HAVE to lower concession prices just to prevent, uh, smuggling, I guess? If it’s prohibited, people shouldn’t do it. But I’m more of a pragmatist. There must be some kind of law of diminishing returns for gouging at the concession stand. Sortof like, “At what price point will people refuse to buy your food and bring their own to the extent that the concession stand is no longer profitable?”

    And I’m no longer, as an adult, of a mind to think that rules that seem silly, expensive, or inconvenient are optional at my discretion. If I don’t like the rules, I just don’t go there.

    I think the only place I still go where 1) outside food is prohibited 2) concessions are outrageous and 3) I will feel the need to eat is Ralph Wilson Stadium. So I just pay up. The NFL has successfully sold me its product, what can I say?

  24. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Too Funny Folks… A couple of things here to mention…

    1. This sort of thing is very rare here in Canada… I have never been searched and almost always bring something in.

    2. Looking for recording devices is simply a response to the bull shit marketing tactics of the movie industry as they try to have the Canadian copyright laws changed to overwhelmingly benefit them. This is a smear campaign.

    3. It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Canada.

    4. Handguns (vs long guns ie riles, shotguns) are for the most part so heavily controlled you will never see one except on a cop… or if you are very unlucky in the hands of a crook.

    5. You folks who want to come up here with your concealed handguns and show everyone what rights you have… Don’t bother, you will only see the inside of a very small room with very strong bars.

    6. Any business here that wants to do a search like the one described is going to get a substantial amount of bad press here. Although we Canadians are polite and tend to comply with the laws… enough of us will just as likely tell them to f…fly a kite and not comply. If that means we don’t see the movie in the theater… not a problem we can watch it online at home.

    7. Why any theater would elect to piss off its customers in a world with so many other options and venues for watching movies boggles the mind. Not to mention the slow down this causes in crowded theaters.

    8. Finally, note that this happened in Quebec… the one province in Canada that thinks it deserves special treatment because it has a distinct society/culture. This is the province that even scares the US when they have to deal with them. Well the point here is that lots of crazy stuff happens in Quebec… I’m happy to have them as part of the country, but sometimes I wonder if they didn’t ride the short bus to confederation.

  25. jstonemo says:

    I don’t know about other states, but in Missouri, AMC policy is to allow patrons to bring in outside food and drinks. I think it applies in Kansas as well, so it might be a chain-wide policy.

  26. 1stMarDiv says:

    I’ve always snuck food in, and I don’t plan to stop. And if you want to get around them searching your bags, just tuck the snacks around your waistline.

  27. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    I’m pretty sure that Montreal is the original source for about 85% of pirated videos where the pirate pointed a video camera at the screen. So I’m sure there is some extra pressure in Montreal than there might be in your City, State or Province.

  28. Andrew Norton says:

    The fun part to note is that they’re searching for video equipment, and damaging reputations over it. However, There is ZERO evidence that camming even reduces their bottom line one cent.

    For the last 18 months, I’ve been crunching box office figures going back to the mid-90s, and I’ve found no declining trend in box offices sales at all.

    Ever wonder why you never see the claims for ‘piracy’ backed up, or why the studies have no methodologies, or even data included (if you didn’t know, they don’t) – It’s because there’s no evidence at all. In fact all the evidence points to ‘piracy’ increasing sales.

    Like the VCR, cable TV, FM radio, even the player piano (all of which has had similar ‘industry destroying’ claims made about them), it’s about control, and money. It will cost them money and reduce their control (until they can purchase the new companies) to adapt to the new business models, so they don’t want to do it.

    (rant over)

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to point out that AMC theaters allow you to bring in outside food without any hassle at all. Pretty nice for a big chain, and they get my business because of it.

  30. Nighthawke says:

    At the local Indie theater, Tuesday’s free popcorn night after 6PM, which suits me just fine. I go in with a large glass mixing bowl (am old fashioned and think eating popcorn out of a Tupperware bowl is sacrilege. Folks see me lugging that giant 2 quart monster up to the snack bar and -Gently- putting it on top of it (Their counter top is almost all glass, they would cry if I set it down on it with anything more than 6G’s of force), they know they are seeing a serious moviegoer.

    BUT! I’m fair-minded and generous to a fault, so the kids flock around me and dip into the giant of a bowl.

    I’m happy as long as they don’t wipe their mitts on my pants….

  31. nakedscience says:

    AMC theaters here (and perhaps Harkisn? I can’t remember) don’t care if you bring in food/snacks.

  32. JGKojak says:

    I take the Disney searches to be more about weapons– which I think we can all support.

  33. dbshaw says:

    As George Carlin wisely put it: I’m not letting someone with a double digit IQ and a triple digit income root around in my belongings!

    Hell, I’m one of those assholes that doesn’t stop to let them check my receipt on the way out of a store. They yell but thats all they can do.

    Company policy is NOT law.

  34. veg-o-matic says:

    Until the major chains stop using butter by default and start stocking nutritional yeast, I’m afraid we’re going to have to keep using the power of my “large purse” to enjoy the fil-ims.

    We’ve managed to get through one, sometimes two large bags of homemade popcorn and a jug or two of water.. Unless we go to the independent theaters that have better selections and who we want to support with our snack-moneys, packing our food is just SOP at this point.

    • morlo says:

      @veg-o-matic: They probably use some sort of flavored oil.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @veg-o-matic: heck yes. And some other yummies that aren’t HFCS laden, or really, any treat that doesn’t make my stomach recoil in terror. As a vegan, there’s virtually nothing in the case I can actually eat.

      Sure, it’s my life choice, and if you don’t want to cater to me it’s ok…but if you don’t offer any options at all that I can eat, don’t be surprised when I bring my own.

    • unobservant says:

      @veg-o-matic: They use butter at your theatres? What kind of high-falutin’ place do you frequent? ;)

      I prefer my movies at home. At least I know what’s in my snacks and why my floor is sticky. And if I’m forced into a frisking, well…

      • veg-o-matic says:

        @unobservant: Hahaha yeah, the quality establishments in the hick sticks of Western Mass either use butter or, in the big-box chains sometimes “don’t know whether it is butter or not.”

        Although @morlo is probably correct that it’s more likely something like “Butterique! Bulk Industrial Butter Substitute Analog Liquid”.

        There’s a fantabulous local independent pair of theaters that actually stocks nutritional yeast, Rice Dream Bars, Italian sodas, vegan chocolates ohhhhh. So nice.

        But we may have to reconsider all that for an at-home movie experience that involves a “frisking” or two.. hehe.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @veg-o-matic: It’s urine-colored grease, unfortunately.
      There’s an indie place that uses butter that I go to when I can.
      I know I’d yield to temptation a lot more if they offered buttered popcorn, but in their quest to save a few pennies, they lose out on a $5 sale. (shrug)

  35. HogwartsAlum says:

    Searching bags seems a bit much unless, like someone pointed out, it’s a sneak preview. I certainly wouldn’t want some kid pawing through my purse looking for anything.

    Usually I eat before I go or afterwards. If I want popcorn, I get the child’s tray, which comes with a drink, a candy and the exact amount of popcorn I can eat. It’s still expensive but not quite so much as the Tub O’ Butter, which I could bathe a small child in.

  36. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    Who cares about being searched at a theater. This probably happened because people kept sneaking food in, and leaving it there for the ushers to clean up. The ushers passed along the info to management and they tightened up. Movie theaters make their profits from selling you junk at way over marked prices…what is new ?!?!

    Stuff your face before you go in to the theater, you can wait 90 mins to Re-Stuff your face, can’t YOU ?

    The Real Premise of this story should have been to praise
    the girl for taking birth control. Unplanned parenthood is the worst!, far worse then having your bag searched at a movie theater.

    My two cents!

  37. 1234tu says:

    Know how I get even with them for charging $15 for a ticket and $10 for a coke? I sneak in sunflower seeds, and the shells go on the floor! heh heh heh

  38. Benny Gesserit says:

    I think it’s a sad day for the Canadian justice system. I remember a time when a frivolous lawsuit like this would have been unthinkable – and if they had the nerve to bring something like this before a judge, his answer would be “Bailiff, kick this jerk in the *ss.”

    Sad, really. I wonder WHERE we could have learned that SUING is a solution for every time you break the rules and want a little revenge for you tattered pride.

    • morlo says:

      @Julius Seizure. (Lackey Position Avail.): They were penalized for not notifying customers in advance that they would be searched. Since you like obeying so much, you’ll enjoy my theater, where the rules state that customers must to consent whatever I choose to do them. (I apologize for the smell, it’s just my pig-farm out back)

  39. adrian666 says:

    I don’t know about “rights” or the differences between Canadian and US laws, but I do feel that for $11 (or higher!) for a ticket (NYC price) that theaters do not come anywhere close to providing an experience worth the price of admission.

    Anyway, that’s why I rarely visit movie theaters anymore. The experience is terrible, especially for the price.

    In addition to teenagers rummaging through your bags, what’s with the seats directly under the screens that nobody wants to sit in but which still cost full price? The twenty minutes of adverts before the movie starts? The dirty, trash-strewn, and disgusting conditions? I wish I could get more people to join me in basically boycotting theaters. They have no incentive to clean things up when shows are sold out even with outrageous ticket and popcorn prices.

  40. subtlefrog says:

    We went to a theater the other day, and their “search” consisted of them saying “empty your pockets.” They then looked at the things we put into their little tray, and let us take them back and let us in.

    I felt so much safer as a result. No one was getting through that security, I tell you what.

  41. Calvin Chou says:

    It must be Quebec I live in Alberta I am 36 and I have never been searched.

  42. serke says:

    After 9/11 the local mega-theater got really restrictive on bags in the theater. A theater which is located in a mall, no less. Women’s giant purses were fine, but backpacks and shopping bags were not.

    They weren’t “allowed” to search you, even if you offered. Simply wouldn’t allow you into the theater. And this is after buying a ticket of course.

    I had to go so far as to hide my school bag behind a couch in Filene’s once, and another time I bought a pair of cargo pants and shoved all my purchases into the many pockets. Strangely bulging pockets were a-okay.

    Luckily they’ve relaxed in the years following.