How To Steal From a Movie Theater


Dear Movie Lovers, my sole purpose in writing this is to give you a leg up in the world today. Going to see flicks can quickly deplete your wallet, so I’ve come up with some ways to lighten the load. AKA, here’s how you rip off your local multiplex.

I’m going to tap into the years I spent working in a theater, bearing witness to the seedy underbelly of operations, in order to help you maximize your time in front of the silver screen.

First off, for all of the prudes out there, stealing isn’t the worst thing possible… especially when it comes to film. In fact, filmmakers have a long-standing history of breaking the rules, stealing from the man so to speak. Werner Herzog, for instance, shot his first film with a 35m camera he ganked from Munich Film School. And let us not forget how many times M. Night Shyamalan has stolen from the movie-going public (“The Village”, “Lady In The Water”, “The Happening”, “The Last Airbender”, “After Earth”).


The most important thing to understand in the movie theater is that there are college students working the place. They don’t really care about anything, other than goofing off and skimming a free box of Milk Duds off the top, when they can. But these kids can smell a rat, so just take a deep breath and go in the front doors confidently. To quote “Bottle Rocket“:

“They’ll never catch me man, ‘cuz I’m fuckin’ innocent.”


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We’ll start you folks out real simply.

TECHNIQUE 1: Ye Old Double Feature

This is the simplest of the cons, but requires a real time commitment. Essentially, this should only be attempted when you want to view two films whose showtimes can run back to back. If you just want to nickel and dime the theater, I suggest you see the shittier of the two movies first, so you give yourself something to look forward to.

1) After the first film lets out, head to the bathroom.

2) Stay in there a while, act like you’re really getting down to business.

3) Pop out, mill around your next movie’s theater until you can get in.

4) Once in, sit in the corner, and preferably in a row that already has people seated, a technique that maximizes avoidance of suspicion.

NOTE: Try not to get noticed by the staff. It doesn’t hurt to wear a plain, solid-colored maroon shirt – you’ll blend into the theater.

TECHNIQUE 2: Child Tickets Decoy

This is a simple one, and can work. But warning: DO NOT DO IT AT THE REGAL UNION SQUARE 14. They’re onto it.

1) Use the ticket kiosk and select your film.

2) Instead of buying an adult ticket (like your average schlub), buy a “child’s” ticket at a portion of the price.

3) Confidently head towards the ticket-taker. Given the choice, get in the line of the dumber/stoner theater staffer.

ADVANCED Technique: Rip the ticket yourself. Here, you must tell the ticket-taker that you “Already got your tickets ripped earlier.” This, if done confidently, can increase the smoothness of the operation.

TECHNIQUE 3: Fake the Ticket Stub with an Old Stub

This is the ballsiest of all the cons. It requires steel nerves, and a DILLIGAF attitude. Should you get caught, you need to have an exit plan (mine is usually run, but feigned ignorance fares quite well in all of these situations should you get caught).

1) Take your old ticket stub **FROM THE SAME THEATER** and hold it semi- covered in your hand.

2) Walk towards the ticket-taker and disclaim, “They already ripped them.”

3) If the person lets you by, you’re golden, if not, bail… IMMEDIATELY.

TECHNIQUE 4: Free 3D Screening

This one is pretty simple. You know how there are all those cardboard bins so you can “recycle” your 3D glasses after seeing “The Hobbit” or the newest Michael Bay trainwreck? BINGO. Here’s what you do:


1) Check the movie times for the 3D movie you want to see.

2) Find a movie whose showtimes starts about 15 minutes before the desired 3D film starts.

3) Casually find the nearest 3D glasses recycle bin, and CONFIDENTLY dip your paws in there and grab as many pairs as you need.

4) If anyone asks, plead ignorance: “I’m sorry, I dropped my real glasses in there.”


TECHNIQUE 5: Free Popcorn

DISCLAIMER: This one requires one to debase thyself in the name of movie savings. What’s popcorn cost these days? $6, $7? That’s bullshit. It’s corn. Heated up. In oil. With butter on it. The theaters should be paying you for slowing agreeing to get diabetes. And for all you high-and-mighties out there: what’s the worst thing to happen? You die? WRONG! In that case, your family sues and they at least get settlement money.

1) Get your tickets, go to your theater, and sit down. It is important, in this scenario, to not make any eye contact with the staff.

2) When the hustle and bustle of your particular theater has died down, head to the trash area, which – luckily these days – is often secluded.

3) Rifle through the trashcan and yank out a LARGE POPCORN TUB. This is important: only LARGE popcorns can be refilled.

Another important tidbit: Sometimes your local theater will limit the number of refills. If this is the case for your cineplex, look for a tally mark on the bottom or side of the tub. If you see none, you’re home free.

4) Head to the counter and ask for “One refill, please.” Here’s where confidence plays a part: act as though you’re interested in buying something else. You’ll get a real pass from the staff if you act like your interested in whatever they try to “upsell”, which is generally bullshit their manager has put them up to. Your interest will give the poor, dumb college kid the false hope they need to ignore the fact that the tub of popcorn is so soaked in old butter that it’s translucent – and likely a biohazard.

BONUS: The steps above can be repeated with a LARGE SODA, however, I only recommend that grift to the most daring of grifters. A High Plains Grifter.

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Friends, I think I’ve given you enough to mull over. The bottom-line is that you should try to take advantage of movie theaters at all costs. Maybe this just means you sneak a bag of fruitsnacks into the joint, shoved under your crotch, or get a bit more elaborate and sew a cloth liner into a backpack to sneak-in a handle of Jack. Anyway, don’t feel bad. They’re gauging you.

Oh. And if you can’t muster the gumption to break Johnny Law’s heart, sign up for the Crown Club Card. It really can save you lots ‘o’ monies.

  • Robert Wasserman

    and remember, kids… if your theater sells some off-brand bottle of water nobody’s ever heard of, make sure you save the bottle! refill with the clear liquid of your choice and off you go!

    btw, in addition to getting you free water (or access to an otherwise unavailable non-water fluid) this is also a little extra evidence for the “they already tore my ticket” ploy. (aka “see, i already bought a water bottle too!”)

  • goofball

    And if everyone does this shit theaters will eventually close and there won’t be money in filmmaking and that’ll be that.

    • Lukespartacus

      As soon as someone says, “If everyone did it” you already know they are talking about something that very few people would ever do.