9 Cinema etiquette rules according to staff

  • Cinema employees across the country told Insider what customers do that annoys them the most.
  • They would like customers to find out about their concessions before it’s their turn in line.
  • Ignoring “please” signs and throwing trash on the floor are also big pet peeves.

These essays that were told are based on conversations with three cinema employees from all over the country. Their words have been edited for length and clarity.

I’ve had some pretty crazy things happen on my shifts—from an FBI raid during a screening of “Joker,” to having to fight two people who threw haymakers at me in the middle of the aisle during a movie. We’re in a university town, so things can get pretty crazy.

I have worked at the theater in Keene, New Hampshire for five years. It’s a family owned cinema and I love working there. But what I wish customers would do is:

1. Be polite

I am a nice guy and love nice customers. I give polite people free popcorn. People who work at your theater are people too – it doesn’t hurt to remember that.

2. Don’t throw your trash on the floor

Especially now, because many places are so short-staffed and it’s harder to get employees in to clean, it’s very uncool to throw trash on the floor. It is also unnecessary.

I’ve had customers who, if they don’t finish their popcorn, just dump it on the floor. Sure, always having something to do means job security for us – but once in a while it would be nice if people were more considerate.

3. Find out which snacks you want before it’s your turn to order

So many people just tell me they want a soda and popcorn – I can’t do anything about it. So then I have to ask, what size soda would you like? What kind of soda would you like? What size popcorn would you like? Do you want butter on it? It’s boring.

4. Put the phone away

I can’t believe I still have to tell people to put their phones down during the movie. We check our theater several times throughout the screenings to make sure people are not using their cell phones. We give multiple warnings and yet I have to escort people out because they don’t listen. We give two strikes and after that it’s like, come on.

I work at a theater on the upper west side of Manhattan. I have worked here for five years now.

5. Read your ticket slip

Headshot of cinema employee

Tarik said customers rarely bother to read their ticket slip – leading them to ask redundant questions.

Courtesy of Tarik



Theatergoers buy a ticket, whether online or at the box office, and never look at the information on the stub. Pretty much everything you need to know about when, where and how your experience is on the stump.

6. Know the name of the movie you are coming to see

When customers add words to the title or just get it wrong, it drives us crazy. We’re currently showing a movie called “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” and I’ve had customers come up to the window asking for tickets to “brains and beauty,” “wonderful beauty,” and everything in between.

Scott (Hayden, Idaho)

I have been working at my theater in Idaho for just under five months now. Customers here are generally very kind and understanding – but some things I wish customers would do are:

7. Don’t ignore “please” signs

Headshot of cinema employee

Scott, who works at a theater in Idaho, said customers haggle past “please wait” signs.

Courtesy of Scott



Strolling into unclean cinemas is annoying and stands in the way of us cleaning up properly after a screening.

8. Don’t just ask for “diet” as a beverage without elaborating

There are probably three different “diet” drinks here.

9. Don’t show up 30 minutes late to your movie

I understand you’re showing up late because you want to skip the ads, but I’ll probably be doing other tasks like restocking or cleaning, and we don’t like being dragged back to the front for stragglers.

If you work in Hollywood and want to share your story, email Eboni Boykin-Patterson at [email protected]

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