I maintain a love/hate relationship with Silver Spring's Majestic Theatre. It's great that there is a 20-screen modern movie theater with within walking distance to my house. It has become exponentially better since adding an IMAX screen last year. Despite ticket prices of $17.50 or more, thanks to the Majestic IMAX has become my new standard in movie watching. I've already seen The Avengers and Prometheus during this year's summer movie season, and intend to see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX when it is released this weekend.
It remains bothersome that there can be a bit too much disruption during movies at the theater, but that seems to be the norm these days. I've had similar issues at the AFI and the Bethesda Row Cinema. To be fair, I haven't noticed it as much lately, but the 500 decibel IMAX sound system tends to drown out all other sounds (permanently).
One thing that continues to annoy me is the the exceptional inefficiency of the theater's concession operations. You'd think after a hundred plus years of existence, the movie theater industry would have concessions down to a science, yet the service at the Majestic is pathetically slow. I now have to budget an extra half hour if I think I may want to get a popcorn for a movie. I recently went to the Majestic for a weekend evening show, generally a theater's busiest time. That being the case, you would think they would staff accordingly, however if I recall correctly only nine of their seventeen (?) registers were manned. If they aren't going to use them during their highest-volume times, why were they even installed in the first place? I've never seen them all in use at once. When I got in line, it was only about four groups deep, so it couldn't take all that long, right? Wrong. Somehow I managed to wait 25 minutes for a popcorn. Adjacent lines didn't appear to be moving appreciably faster.
Considering the margins they are getting on $8 bags of popcorn and $6 sodas, it would financially beneficial to increase their staff. Ringing up just a single sale would likely cover a concession worker's hourly wage and any associated payroll taxes. It's not like there aren't plenty of teenagers out there looking for jobs. No doubt there are innumerable sales that have been lost due to patrons' not having adequate time to wait in these sluggish queues before their movie starts. I had the distinct pleasure of working at the defunct AMC City Place 10 for one summer as a teen, so I can say based on experience that you can move the line a hell of a lot faster than they do at the Majestic. (Two time AMC City Place 10 employee of the week here.) The process is incredibly simple: take order, up sell, serve order. Now all the popcorn is pre-bagged and concession workers don't even have to butter it behind the counter, so it should move even faster. A transaction shouldn't take more than 1-2 minutes at most.Why it seems to take 5+ minutes for each sale at the Majestic is beyond me.
As an aside, here's a few interesting things I learned from working at a movie theater:
1. You are in no way getting butter on your popcorn. We were expressly forbidden from calling the liquid that we applied to popcorn as "butter". It was only to be referred to as "topping".
2. There is something called a "Half and Half", or at least there used to be. This is when you fill up a popcorn bag half way, pump a full allotment of "topping" on the kernels, fill up the rest of the bag and re-apply the topping. There are likely a disproportional number patrons of the AFI City Place 10 in the 1990's who have since perished from congenital heart disease. Now that you have to pump your own topping, I don't see how you'd get yourself a half and half.
3. Orange soda is a lot more popular than I would have imagined.
On the subject of the Majestic, yesterday I received this email regarding a post on from way back in 2007:
Dear Sir or Madam: It’s 2012 and people are still calling my cell phone when they are unhappy at the movies. I haven’t worked for Consolidated Theatres since 2008, please, please, please remove this posting so that my peaceful Friday nights can return! I don’t work for them anymore and this is my personal cell number you have posted. The Majestic is owned now by REGAL.I felt kind of bad, though it wasn't me that posted her number - it was in a comment that I have since deleted. At the same time, I'm glad people are making their displeasure known when they have a bad experience at the Majestic. Who knows, maybe it has helped.
One last thing... when did the Majestic start screening Bollywood films? I noticed this posted outside last month. DON'T ANGRY ME!