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LAist's Solved Mysteries: Movie-Theater Sneaking

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Here at LAist, we're constantly being asked to look into a variety of unsolved mysteries plaguing Angelenos.

We've solved the mystery of The Grove's eerie sentient parking sensors and informed LA citizens about the legality of parking next to a broken parking meter. And today, we're going to address the one mystery people continue to ask the powers that be here at LAist...

Is it possible to still sneak into free movies at LA-based movieplexes?

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Before the huge monolithic stadium-styled movie palaces were built over the last 5 years (Arclight, the new Century 14, et al), sneaking into a movie was as simple as scratching your arm. You'd buy a ticket for one movie, make sure you knew the other film's starting times, then leave one for another and another and so on. You could spend a day at the Beverly Center Cinemas or Century 14 hopping from theater to theater without anyone stopping you or asking questions.

But today, the corporate legalmeisters at some of LA's biggest theater chains have enacted their own secret security measures to keep you, Mr. or Ms. Freebie Movie Sneaker from getting the most bang for your lack-thereof buck.

The Arclight posts guards at the entry to their upper and lower decks, requiring you to offer up tickets to get inside. Then, once inside, the Arclight has staff members waiting to see your tickets and show you your seats. Then once the movie has started, they refuse to let you in. At least, that's what they tell you their policy is. In reality, once the movie has started, Arclight staff members are off to their next performance (where they introduce movies to theater-goers in a kabuki-style monologue worthy of Mamet) leaving the entryway to your theater open for film-hoppers.

The reality of the Arclight, of course, is that once you've purchased one ticket -- theater hopping isn't impossible at all. But what about, across town at The Grove?

Once again, although theater staff will always tell you that they guard against such theater hopping, The Grove is an even easier place to sneak a flick. After an initial ticket rip, theatergoers are set free in a winding tunnel of doors where no one waits to check your ticket. Pay for one, see another, repeat until the fatigue and sugar has washed over your body. Movie-theater sneaking is also totally possible here.

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But ask the powers that be what their policy is about theater-sneaking, or how they're trying to guard against such illegal acts and they'll refuse to talk to you about it. Such was the case with JS Squared Communications, the PR firm who handles all media requests for Arclight and The Grove. As their "elaborate security measures" are complicated and secret -- they refused to address just what theaters are doing to stop this practice for fear of unlocking a pandora's box of workarounds.

In the end, whether you're looking to sneak a flick at The Arclight (level of toughness: 8 out of 10), The Grove (6 out of 10) or the extremely simple Sherman Oaks Galleria Theaters (3 out of 10) -- the real solution to the mystery of whether or not theaters are doing their part to keep you from taking money out of their children's mouths comes down to one simple answer...

No. They're not doing a thing.

Because in the end, theaters aren't making money off the movie ticket prices. They're not making money off you and your family buying twilight tix. They're making a killing off the candy. And as far as they're concerned...the longer you stay in their theater, the more you're going to eat and the more money you're going to spend on the candy. And theaters make 100% off candy, versus much smaller percentages off movie ticket prices that they must negotiate with studio distribution arms.

Are you starting to see the solution to the mystery?

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So when you stand up and ask LAist to solve the mystery of whether or not theater-hopping is still possible in a world such as this... When you buy your ticket and realize there are three movies you'd rather see but the prices are too high... When you want to spend a day at the movies without having to take out a second mortgage on your house...

Consult LAist. Where the mysteries are no longer mysteries.