Recently, one of my go-to movie theaters has come under new management. This brought about a few changes, most of them agreeable: the addition of a bar, a general face-lift, and a new seating system. But there’s one change that I cannot abide: the inclusion of pre-movie greeters.
For those of you fortunate enough not to know, these greeters are theater employees who introduce the movie before the previews start, beginning with something like,“Hello and welcome to Arclight Cinemas, tonight’s show is No Escape, starring Owen Wilson.” After that enlightening bit of information, they move on to what they’re really there to do: promoting gift cards and whatever crap they’re selling at their little gift shop. You see, one of Arclight’s selling points is its lack of pre-movie advertisements. But the inclusion of greeters is just a cheap way around that: there aren’t ads on the screen; instead they’re being read to you directly.
Having been exposed to a good handful of these greeters, I can say that I much preferred the ads. Yes, they’re annoying, but at least I can ignore them. The presence of greeters, on the other hand, forces me to spend three endless minutes trying to figure out whether it’s more awkward to make eye contact with them or to avoid it. And let me be clear: I have nothing against the greeters themselves. I’m sure their experience is just as excruciatingly uncomfortable as mine, if not more so.
So let this be a message to Arclight and any other theater chain that uses greeters: please stop. I’d rather watch the most insipid Coke commercial or AMC’s strange combination of sentient red balls and sassy black narrator than sit through another one of these assaults on human dignity.
It’s time to put an end to the suffering, Arclight. This demeans us all.