Movie Theater Regulations

Revised Spring 2008: Marcotte

Description of Act

For decades, Americans have gone to the movie theaters to watch newly released films on the silver screen. Movies are set to show at scheduled times throughout the day and evening. One must check the movie times to see when the movie that he or she would like to see is playing. This can be done by calling the establishment, looking up newspaper listings, checking internet websites, or looking at the postings at the theater itself. Once it is decided which movie the person would like to see, tickets for that show are purchased by handing some form of payment to the theater employee. The types of payments which are acceptable are debit and credit cards, cash, and gift cards. Personal checks are not generally accepted.

After the transaction takes place, the moviegoer finds the specific theater room showing the movie for which he or she is holding a ticket. This is done by handing the ticket to an employee of the facility who points one in the right direction. Once in the correct room, one sits down in an available chair and waits for the show to start, eager to gain some enjoyment from the film.

Regulations and Juridic Controls

In order to ensure every moviegoer an enjoyable experience, some juridic controls are placed on the public. The most important control states that no person is allowed to disrupt order by yelling “FIRE” for everyone to hear. When people hear such a word in a group setting, chaos breaks out and everyone rushes to the exits in a state of panic. This is very dangerous. People may end up getting injured or even trampled to death. This law is kept in municipal statutes and is made known by word of mouth. It is implied that all people are aware of this law since it is common sense. Any violators may be subject to an arrest. The severity of the outcome of the action determines the degree of the penalty. Violators can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony crime. If the end result is only people fleeing from the movie, then the person is likely to get a misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge, but if someone were to die as a result of the false claim, the offender may be charged with reckless homicide.

Another enforceable code is public decency. Every human being must wear clothing that covers him or her appropriately in order to gain access to the movie. The person must remain clothed during his or her entire time in the public eye. There are usually signs posted at the entrance that state, “No shirt, No shoes, No service.” If one fails to abide by this law, then one may be asked to leave or even be reported to the police. If law enforcement is called over this issue, then one is subject to conviction of misdemeanor public indecency. There are also laws that regulate who can be admitted into certain movies. For example, children under 17 are not allowed to view rated R movies unless accompanied by an adult. Also, businesses must comply with the occupancy law in case of a fire. There are predetermined limits called fire codes that give guidelines on how many tickets can be sold to each show. This guarantees that all guests will have a place to sit for the showing of the movie. Another restriction of attending a movie at a theater is that one must buy snacks and drinks from the concessions instead of bringing one’s own from outside sources. This rule exists because most profit for the theater is made through the sale of concessions.

Affects/Burdens on Society

All of these laws are important and well thought out. They are not burdensome to human life. While planning on going to a movie theater, it is not a struggle or inconvenience to put on clothes before leaving the house; it is a common requirement in almost all parts of public life. Also, most people are mature enough to suppress any possible temptation to yell “fire” while at the movies. People have the common sense, more times than not, to retain from doing something that is potentially harmful to themselves and others. A couple friends have offered me their opinions on this subject. They agree completely that these mandatory laws are not in vain in order to have an enjoyable experience.

Escaping Juridic Controls

If, indeed, a person is too stubborn to abide by these restrictions, then he or she can rent a movie to watch at home. In this day and age, it is easy to rent a movie form a variety of sources. One does not even have to leave home. Television companies have made it simple to order pay-per-view movies directly from the TV. This may be a good alternative option for a person who has a difficult time conforming to laws. Also, some people who want to save money and still enjoy a few snacks while viewing the latest movie sneak their own food into the theater.

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