For, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that local theaters have had reserved seating for a decade or so, let’s review my Sept. 5, 2008, Deseret News column on the subject and see if anything’s changed. The answer is not much, although it has expanded to all the theater chains in the Salt Lake Valley, save the art houses downtown. This piece was published under the headline, ‘Rude people fail to grasp “reserved” ’.

When you go to the opera or the symphony or a concert or a play, you expect to purchase a reserved seat. You go to the box office or online, you look at a seating chart, you see what’s left — and then you choose, hopefully, the best possible spot to take in the experience.

But you don’t generally expect that with a movie. So it has been interesting to watch the development of the reserved-seat innovation at Larry Miller’s Megaplex theaters.

When we first encountered this, my wife and I saw only the upside: it was no longer necessary to arrive at the theater an hour before showtime to get your favorite seat.

We enjoyed taking a walk around the facility and entering the auditorium with just a minute or two to spare, thereby avoiding the videotape commercials that precede each screening.

But it wasn’t long before we began to see people abusing this luxury, coming in well after the film had started — and blocking our view as they chattered and searched for their seats.

And, naturally, the bigger the crowd, the more people there are who come in late!

Then there was the occasion, at a sell-out show, when my reserved seat was broken. There was literally nowhere else to go, unless we wanted to get a refund and reschedule. So I put up with it and afterward told the management.


But the topper occurred when my friend Ray and I went to the Gateway. (Where you have to pay to park, by the way — and if you go to a long movie and are in the theater for more than three hours, you REALLY pay to park!)

We went to an early matinee and the seating chart showed only three or four other people in attendance. So we happily chose our seats and went to purchase some goodies.

Ray went into the auditorium first and I followed a few minutes later. But when I went in I saw that he was sitting down the row from the chairs we had selected and a couple of young women were in our seats.

I sat next to him and asked what happened. Ray said he went up to them, showed his ticket and explained that they were in the seats we had purchased.

One of the women looked up at him and with some disdain in her voice said, “That’s just a suggestion.” (When I later related this to one of my sons, he said Ray should have responded, “Here’s a suggestion — get out of my seat!”)


Ray was so nonplussed that he just wandered down a few chairs in the same row.

I must admit that her attitude and sense of entitlement made it difficult for me to resist dumping popcorn on her head. But I let it go.

Soon the lights went down, we sat through several trailers and then the movie began. After a few minutes — you guessed it — two people came in with tickets for the seats we were now in.

We started to get up and move but they smiled, waved us off and sat in the row behind us.

It was an odd domino effect.

So here’s what we have concluded from all this: Reserved seating in movie theaters is just fine — but people should be banned.