Oh, Arclight… you continue to break my heart.

breach.jpgAs you’ve read, my faith in the Arclight, along with some other authors here, has been tested as their high tech ticketing system frequently runs amuck. (computerized ticketing gripe posts here here and here, promised improvements here, apologies for lack of improvements and other problems here, and just a complaint about general incompetence here)

However, recent events indicate the problems extend beyond the computer system and into basic management.

(and because this is so longwinded, I’m sparing those of you who aren’t interested by hiding most of the post untl after the jump)

Last week I went to see “The Lives of Others”, and per usual allowed myself what I thought was enough time for concessions. Granted, it was a Friday night, but the line still took over 20 minutes to get through, having me choose between missing trailers and a portion of the movie or spend a godawful amount on a Coke and some M&Ms. I’m a sucker, so I took the former. Maybe this was a fluke.

Last night, my problems began, as typical, as I attempted to purchase tickets online. Unfortunately, the system kept jamming and wouldn’t bring up the screen that would allow me to handpick my seats. After a few unsuccessful tries, I allowed the system to pick my seats itself, which worked fine, and I printed my tickets for the 10:20 screening of “Breach”.

At the theatre, I witnessed the ticket taker explain to a couple different filmgoers that the screen for “Breach” had been switched from screen 7 to screen 3. I thought nothing of it, really, until I decended down the stairs and saw the entire concessions area packed to the gills. It was just before 10pm, so I contemplated whether or not to risk wasting another 20 minutes in line, or just head for my seat. Fortunately, what I soon noticed is that these people weren’t in line for concessions, they were just waiting for the 10:10pm screening for “Music & Lyrics” to open. Need I point out that this was ten minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin?

Again, I disregarded this and was happy the concessions line was short. I grabbed a Coke and headed over for screen 3 where I saw another crowd waiting outside. Oh, oh. Ten minutes before “Breach” was supposed to begin, and they said they were still cleaning the theatre. Why? A staffer said, “Because the last show was sold out so its taking us a little longer to clean.”

Ten minutes goes by, it’s 10:20, and the movie still hasn’t let in. Need I point out that the Arclight boats about their films starting on time, and that they lock out theatre goers who show up late?

10:25pm, and about five more staffers rush inside the theatre. From the looks on their faces, one could have thought they were rushing inside to clean up some severed corpses inside. Actually, the crowd was making up their own theories for the delay, and this was one of them.

At 10:30pm, the LED board outside screen 3 announced that the movie had begun and there’d be no more admittance. The crowd laughed it off.

A couple minutes later, as staffers emerged from the theatre carrying bags of trash, we were finally given the greenlight to go inside, resulting in scattered applause. Fortunately, the movie itself was well received, and I think most people more or less forgot about the earlier delay. Unfortunately, the entire time I was trying to think of a better way to blog about this than what I’ve actually written.

The $14 ticket has lost part of its justification when the web ticketing system is consistently flawed, the staffing at the concession lines are lackluster, and now, movies are letting in after the start time, let alone beginning late, in spite of promises of the whole thing being a premium experience. Not the end of the world, but I’m afraid its indicative of larger management problems that, dare I say, could threaten the once great Arclight more and more.

8 Replies to “Oh, Arclight… you continue to break my heart.”

  1. I propose we write a Arclight Lover Manifesto, get a ton of signatures, and present it to the boss over there. I don’t think it will make any difference, but it might get us a few free tickets.

  2. Experiences like above do take the shine off Arclight — but all you need to do is go to some other theater (like the Grove?? or the Pacific in Pasadena) and you suddenly remember why it’s almost worth 14 bucks. I swear people have smaller bladders in every other movie theater.

  3. Scott, my point isn’t that the Arclight still isn’t better than the alternates, its just that their customer service is dropping, and obvious bad management is a sign of worse things to come. I don’t put it past them to eliminate reserved seating, which, lets face it, is what makes the Arclight great.

  4. Nothing about the Arclight justifies 14 dollar tickets and a severe lack of matinee prices. The place is supremely overrated and it continually boggles my mind that it gets so much praise. Hey, to each their own, but in my humble opinion, that place is a 1st-class rip-off!

    My favorite theatre in L.A. is the Vista. big screen, stretch-limo style leg room, funky pseudo-Egyptian decor, and prices that are still on planet earth.

    All that being said, I might have to get over myself for a couple hours this weekend and go to the Arclight, as it seems to be the only place showing Volver.

  5. I suppose this would be the appropriate place to gripe about how they never seem to be able to keep their damned signature concession item, the Caramel Corn, in stock.

    First it was just the Dome that never had any and I’d have to trek over to the main theater to get some, but now the main theater has had problems the last two times I was there.

    I don’t mind paying extra for a mind-blowing experience, but it does seem to be more and more just a blowing experience. :(

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