Movie Seat Hogs

by admin on April 5, 2011

Some years ago, my mother, grandmother, and I took my two younger brothers to see a movie at a large Omnitheater near my grandmother’s home. It was the film’s opening day, so the theater was not only huge, but packed with people. Now, both my siblings are autistic and one has cerebral palsy as well and wears a heavy leg brace as a result, and my grandmother is in her late seventies and has very painful arthritis. As such, an insane number of stairs is not a sight we greet with much pleasure. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we got: dozens of stairs extending the whole length of this enormous theater. What fun.

Still, there didn’t seem to be much point in complaining, so we just looked around for what few seats were open. Strangely, in the middle of this crowded theater, there was an entire row (I’m guessing around twenty to thirty seats) towards the top that was almost completely empty, save three ten year old girls and a meticulously dressed middle-aged lady (you know, the kind who’d never admit to being middle-aged). People seemed to be steering clear of this section, which should have been a warning sign, but, silly little naive teenager that I am, I led my family up. As soon as we get there, the lady bolts out her chair, runs over to us, and literally spreads out her arms Gandalf-style to keep us from sitting down. She puts on this simpering “be-nice-to-the-peons” smile and says this:

LADY: I’m sorry, but these seats are reserved.

ME: *checks for “RESERVED” sign like an idiot, finds none* Really? Did you get them reserved?

LADY: No, but we’re saving them.

MOM and GRANDMA: All of them?

LADY: *Nods*

MOM: *muttering* Christ, you’ve gotta be kidding me.

BROTHER 1: Mom, let’s sit down.

LADY: You can’t, these are saved.

BROTHER 1: But…*starts first stages of full scale panic attack, which he’s very prone to, and it’s not pretty* But there’s nowhere else to sit…w-we’ll miss the movie…*hyperventilates*

ME: *thinking, “Crap, panic time, DEFCON ONE!”* You can’t seriously need all these chairs.

LADY: Yes, I do. My daughter’s friends are coming, and they’ll need plenty of room.

ME: *thinking, “Who’s she friends with? China?”* Look, it’s just there’s nowhere else to sit, and my brother has a leg problem *cue brother scraping heavy metal brace across floor* and he has trouble with stairs, so I don’t want him to have to-

LADY: Yes, yes, I understand, but these seats are ours. You’re just going to have to live with that.

With that, she goes back to her seat, rolling her eyes. For a minute, I start to sit down anyway, thinking, “up your nose with a rubber hose,” but she spots me and tenses in her chair, her nails literally digging into her armrest. Deciding that this isn’t something I’m willing to die over (and judging from her expression, that’s exactly what would have happened in five seconds), I get up and we manage to find spots in the farthest back row of the theater. Oh, and the girl’s friends? There were ten of them. Maybe. They just used most of the chairs as freaking coat racks. I mean, really, lady? You deny seats to an old lady, a panicked child, and a cripple so your coat won’t get wrinkled? Classy. 0322-11

The lesson I would have walked away with was that I need to get to the theater much earlier than any seat hogs and stake out my seat claim first.   Seat Hogs will always exist but I’d rather they be someone else’s problem to deal with.   Shoot, if you time it right, you could sit watching the Seat Hog drama while munching on some buttery popcorn.

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

ErinAnn April 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

I’m not above getting a manager to put jerks in their place.

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Jillybean April 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

I would have simply waved for an employee. Seating is first come first serve in a movie theater. Saving a seat (maybe two) while your friend is in the bathroom or popcorn line is considered routine. Saving an entire row, I am quite certain is not allowed, ever. If you need 15 seats, then 15 people should be with you when you sit. I would have told the lady she was out of luck.

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gramma dishes April 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

Time to call in the ushers — or theater management! Most do not allow the “saving” of seats when the theater is crowded.

I do have a question though. I thought it was some kind of law that all public venues of this type had to be wheelchair accessible. It would seem that there should have been some way to avoid all those stairs, even for someone at least moderately ambulatory like your brother and grandmother. No?

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ElizaJane April 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

Now I’m tempted to go to a popular movie on opening day and deliberately sit in a seat hog’s row. I don’t object to someone saving a seat next to them for one person, but saving an entire row and claiming that the whole thing belongs to you is extreme. I say if you can’t physically cover the seats in question, they are not yours.

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The Elf April 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

Yes, lesson #1 is to arrive earlier next time for a big show, especially since you and your party have special needs. Seat hogs are wrong, but they exist and you can avoid the whole problem by showing up early.

But dang was that lady rude! I’ve saved a seat or two; we all have. But a row is going too far, and saving seats when you don’t know the number you need is extra rude. Also, there’s a window on saving seats. The closer you get to showtime, the more the theatre fills, the less you can claim the seats.

For extra fun: http://www.seathogs.com. It’s sort of an ehell for public transporation.

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ashley April 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

No offense to the OP, but why a movie theater of all places especially since it was the opening night and was bound to be crowded? It just seems kind of strange that the OP’s family would pick this activity and time to go with an arthritic elderly woman, and two autistic children one with cerebral palsy, theres most likely going to be a huge crowd and some pain and discomfort. Maybe I’m just overcomplicating things, but that was my first thought when I read this.

With that out of the way, I cannot stand seat hogs either. When a seat hog is encountered, you can cut the self entitlement they’re giving off in the air with a knife. I’m glad the OP and their family were able to find seats after all and hope that rude woman did’nt ruin their night out in any way.

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Amanda Kate April 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

Or talk to the manager. There are managers that hate that kind of thing, especially if people with disabilities are involved. I would have talked to someone.

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Ashley April 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

Seat hogs are one of my biggest pet peeves ever. I thankfully don’t encounter them often at my local movie theater, we’re a rather small town with a very very oversized theater. But I do enjoy seeing movies at the Imax theater on occasion, which is in a much larger town. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen coats over chairs, with no sign of anybody coming to fill them, someone asks “Are those taken?” “Yes, they are” then we proceed to watch them get used as a coat rack for the remainder of the movie from our seat we managed to find literally two seconds before the show starts. One time a museum employee had to come in and tell a woman “Mam, if your additional guests are not here by the time the movie starts, we will have to ask you to move your coats and let other people sit there”. She looked at him, said “I have no other guests, I was just keeping my coats there” then turned around and ignored him. He waited till the lights went out, asked her to move her coats. She put up a HUGE fight. She and her coats got kicked out. Sweet justice…

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Michelle April 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

Seat hogs are as bad as those who try to cut in line by stopping to say hi to their friends who are at the front of a loooooong line waiting to get into the theater. I had this happen recently and as I had been standing in line for almost an hour, I politely pointed out the end of the line was “back there”. When the couple ignored me, I caught the attention of a theater security person, called them over and told them that I did not appreciate the couple cutting in line while the rest of us had gotten to the theater early and had been patiently waiting to enter the theater. The security person told them they needed to move to the back of the line and their friends said “but they are with us.” He said then all of you can move to the back of the line. The friends declined and the couple moved to the back. The line broke out in applause.

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MetalRose April 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

I hear you there, it can be frustrating. I have a large family and when we go to the movies we often take up an entire row. While half of our group gets snacks, the other half goes to get seats. Now we usually sit every other chair or every 2 chairs so that we don’t have to save an entire row and it’s obvious the seats are taken.

That being said, my son and I are both old enough and polite enough to give up our seats if needed (for special reasons, not because someone prefers our seats over what is available). Sure my family and I share snacks, but we can reach in front of us or behind us to get some popcorn if needed.

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L. April 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

I wish people would ignore the commands of seat hogs. “Reserving” seats only works if people allow it to. I still regret backing down at my husband’s graduation. A dozen people got to the main tent early and each reserved an entire ROW of seats by placing programs on them. So my family, all of whom were actually there, had to go sit in an auxiliary tent in deference to empty chairs. I don’t agree that the solution is to get there extra early. That allows ONE person to keep seats empty for people who aren’t there, at the expense of people who are actually present. How is that fair? Shouldn’t “first come, first served” require actual presence? Anyhow, it wouldn’t work. Seathogs will just turn up ten minutes earlier than that. It’s easy when you merely have to send one person ahead rather than getting your whole group there.

In this situation, surely it wasn’t optimal for one woman to keep thirty seats empty in a crowded theater so ten children could have places for their coats and snacks? Her glares and talons didn’t deserve an ounce of respect.

One person should reserve no more than ONE extra chair, for as long as it takes their spouse/kid/parent to park the car, get refreshments, or go to the bathroom. Any more than that is greedy. If your group ends up sitting separately, oh well, get there early next time. ALL of you.

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Hal April 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

This is my response to this maddening behavior. Play deaf. Sit down and stay down. When confronted smile and look away. Say nothing. This is passive-aggressive I know but it works if you have the nerve to carry it off. Do not respond in any way to the “seat saver.” Many around you are cheering you on silently I guarantee. It is most important you do nothing back at the rude person. Just sit.

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Mockette April 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

I recently got to observe someone thwart a seathog. While on a cruise we went to a show, the theater was filling up and there were very few seats still available. The woman in front of us was trying to save 5 seats and had turned a number of people away with “these are saved”. My hero came along and started to sit down. The Seathog declared that the seats were saved. My hero politely pointed out that there is a Cruise Line- no-sea- saving policy (which is true but no one else was willing to risk the fight) and sat down.

After about 5 minutes of death glares the seathog leaned over and said “I hope your happy that my 85 year old grandmother won’t get to see the show” and stomped off.

All the people seated around congratulated the woman for politely and bravely confronting the seathog. I think drinks were even purchased : )

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Pers April 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

Not trying to blame the victim, but…if you’re going to a movie on premiere weekend and you know it’s going to be a popular one, and you have some challenges – get to the movie earlier.

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K April 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

Yes, she was rude, but:

1) If YOU have special circumstances, YOU have to accommodate yourself. As in, opening night of a movie is not for you. Period. You knew it would be crowded and you brought this on yourself.

2) If you just couldn’t control yourself and refused to wait, YOU could have made it easier on yourself by getting there earlier.

3) You could have gotten a manager.

There are all sorts of ways to avoid this

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Marlene April 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

I’m personally of the opinion that this situation called for intervention by theater management.

And The Elf, while nothing gets my goat quite like bad public transport etiquette, I think there’s something perverse about snapping pictures of strangers and posting it on the internet. It’s got a whiff of vigilantism to it. (Or maybe I’m influenced by that Law and Order episode where someone gets murdered after having a picture of them posted on that type of site….I watched too much Law and Order.)

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Kat April 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

Actually, the seats aren’t hers. They belong to the theater.

She has a right to save the number of seats she bought tickets for.

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Maitri April 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

“Ma’am, you will have to make do with the seats that we do not use.” *sit down*

That’s all you had to do. Do you really think she was going to physically attack you?

I keep saying it, I feel like a broken record :) People act like this because we LET them. Bullies back down when the bullied stand up to them. Yes, it’s rude to save all of those seats and not let a crippled child and an elderly person sit there. It’s also weak to accede to her demands and wander away, inconveniencing yourself and possible hurting the people who have to climb more stairs while incapacitated. There’s no way in heck I would have let that woman get away with that. And I don’t think I would have been rude in the slightest if I’d stood up to her.

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Snowy April 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Just because you’re late to a movie (which hadn’t even started, so how late are you?) doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to sit in available seats. I’ll deal with someone reserving a few seats for friends or family who haven’t arrived yet, but otherwise, if it’s the only good seats left, I’ll sit there and offer to move once they need the seat. And by need I mean “You have filled up all your other seats with warm bodies.”

I wish the family would’ve sat down and said, “You can’t reserve an entire row without manager approval. We’ll rest here while you go get the manager, my grandmother’s arthritis seems to have suddenly flared up. I’m sure the manager won’t want to ask a family with three disabled people out of unoccupied seats, but if they say you made a reservation, we will abide.”

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Elizabeth 2 April 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

How awful! I too was wondering why there were no handicapped-accessible entrances, but I supposed that in the rush and crush of pre-movie time, such entrances could easily be missed.

But the nerve of that woman! A bunch of teenagers who couldn’t be troubled to arrive at the same time do NOT take precedence over the rest of the world, especially if the disabled are involved. You should have have run to get an usher after the “You’re just going to have to live with that” comment. Had I been the usher in question, I would have given the usual ultimatum: stop hogging, or get out.

Of course, I cannot blame you for not acting; we’re all conditioned to respect our “elders,” and it has got to be very uncomfortable for a teenage girl or boy to deal with an unreasonable adult. Heck, *I* still have issues talking to “adults,” and I’m 24! I feel for you, having to put up with the middle-aged equivalent of a spoiled brat.

I must say, though, should I ever encounter a similar person in a similar theater, guarding similar seats in a similar fashion, I would go ahead and sit down the moment her back was turned. I have every right to do so, and getting to watch a “distinguished” woman go into a flying, foaming rage would be TOTALLY worth getting screamed at . . . at least until the ushers come to make her leave *evil grin*

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Iben April 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

In Denmark when you buy a ticket you’re assigned a seat. Obviously you can ask where to be seated, but first come first served. Love that system. The few people with enough gall to sit elsewhere than their assigned seat in a sold out cinema are quickly taken care of by showing them your tickets.

(obviously if there are many spare seats you can move around as you chose, as long as you still respect people’s assigned seats.)

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DGS April 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Definitely not okay. I would have gotten an usher or a manager. And let her have her adult-sized hissy fit/temper tantrum of massive proportions to her plastic surgery enhanced tight-lipped content.

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many bells down April 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm

In this case I think I would have gotten an usher also. Perhaps with a “we have some disabilities in our party, could you assist us with getting seated?”

I absolutely hate saving seats for people in theaters. So when I know lots of people are coming, I choose the theater in town that reserves seats. When you buy your ticket you can choose your seats from those available, and it’s printed on your ticket just like a concert.

No stress rushing to the theater to get seats. No more feeling awful because I’m holding 3 seats in a prime row for friends that can’t get there before the previews start.

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Chocobo April 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Definitely get the management involved next time. Totally ridiculous to save a whole row. When I need to save more than one seat and know how many people are coming I put articles of clothing and stuff on the chairs I need to show they are taken. It’s an unspoken rule that empty chairs are free chairs.

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Giles April 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I can see if they used them all, especially if they were younger girls she wants to keep together (a dark room full of strangers isn’t the best place to lose track of someone else’s kid). I remember movie theatre birthday parties; my daughter had one when the first Harry Potter movie just came out and that was a mistake on the part of my sanity. The theatre reserved seats for our group and people ignored the signs and sat there anyway. There was a pretty big row because tickets got oversold.

But reserving that many and not using them is pretty rude. She should have counted out the seats they needed and just kept those ones. Stuff like this is why I no longer go to see very new movies or children’s films…

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LolaKat April 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I know the OP probably didn’t want to make a fuss, and being a teenager at the time, may not have thought about it, but most theatres will gently and politely ask other patrons to move a few seats down or over when accomodating guest with mobility problems.

I’m not even going to comment on the Lady’s bad behaviour, unacceptable.

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Wink-n-Smile April 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Step #1 – get there early IF possible. It’s not always possible to get there early, and it’s certainly no faux pas to get there on time.

Step #2 – Ask her politely EXACTLY how many seats she is saving and EXACTLY which seats those are. Each ticket bought entitles one to ONE seat. Not two or three or more. If she’s saving seats for 10 people, then she can save seats for ONLY ten people. Tell her that the other seats are up for grabs, and you intend to grab them.

Step #3 – If she acquiesces to your calm, polite statement that you are sitting in the unclaimed seats, then all is well and good. If not, if she gives you ANY argument AT ALL to your initial, polite claim on the unclaimed seats, then you immediately get the manager, leaving the less ambulatory folk standing in the aisle, rather than moving up or down any more stairs than was already necessary.

Step #4 – Make sure you are loud about getting the manager. Not obnoxiously loud, but loud enough to get the attention and support of surrounding people. “If you won’t allow us to sit down in these seats, which you DO NOT OWN, then I’ll be forced to get the manager! Granny? Lame cousin? Panicky brother? Please wait here, and do not move, while I fetch the manager. Oh, excuse me, sir? Would you mind helping us? My brother’s about to have a panic attack, and I think you are just the sort to be able to protect him.” Appeal to the other people, who have witnessed the scene, to protect the helpless, while you get help.

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Noel April 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I would have told her to go fetch the theater management and I would sit right here and wait for them to come back and if they told me that I, my disabled child and geriatric mother had to move THEN I would move. Go ahead and call security.

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AKatC April 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I am kind of amazed at how many people are somewhat faulting the OP here. Seriously, you can not save seats. If you are physically holding a ticket and are in the theater where there are seats you sit in them. If the “friends” had not arrived yet, well then tough nuggets. Seriously, if you are in a group and need a large number of seats at least have the decency to go in all together. Who cares whether a movie premiere is “right” for a family with special needs? They arrived on time, with tickets, whole party together and there were seats so I say they should have sat and are not in the wrong in any way.

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Taylor April 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I just moved from Florida to Utah, and discovered something strange upon going to my first movie out here: there is assigned seating! According to my husband (who has lived here since middle school), there are apparently world-class Seat Hogs in Utah that will save several rows for their large families, and there were so many complaints about it that the theaters started to implement an assigned seating policy. When you buy your tickets online, you can choose your seats (kinda like when you book a flight). If someone is in your seat, you can kindly tell them to get out of it. I found it weird at first, but now I prefer it because I don’t have to worry about getting to the theater late and having to sit in crappy seats!

I’ve saved seats before, but it was always only one or two, maybe three at the most once. Saving an entire row is crazy, and I’m one of those people who would sit in it anyway no matter how many dirty looks I got from the Seat Hog. I agree with the idea that people only act like pigs because they think they can get away with it, and in my experience, most of them won’t continue being piggish if they can sense that you won’t put up with it.

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Starry Diadem April 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

You’ve had good and supportive advice on how to deal with this in future, which is what I’d expect from this site. But I have to say that I am astonished at K’s comments telling you that you effectively brought this upon yourself for going to the opening night of a popular movie with two or three people who have physical disabilities or are neurologically atypical.

Good grief. So people who are not 100% ‘normal’ (whatever that may be) have no right to go out and experience an ‘occasion’ because there will be crowds of people there, is that right? As if the life of someone with a disability isn’t circumscribed enough. Well, all your fault for not ‘controlling’ your desire for your family to enjoy an experience that everyone else can take for granted.

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--Lia April 5, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I’m interested in this because I’m interested in how the most ordinary things that we take for granted can be different in different parts of the world. I might be sure that movie theaters work one way when someone else can be equally certain that they work another.

Where I am in the U.S., I know of 2 sorts of theaters. There are the small ones where you’re never far from an employee. I go to those often. If someone were reserving a whole section and it smelled fishy to me, I’d get an employee in no time, return, and let that employee decide whether reserving seats for coats or people who don’t show up is allowed. I’ve only known that to happen once. The management did decide that it was O.K. They had some sort of new system where you buy your tickets over the phone, then show up. Then it stopped happening. I can only guess that they got complaints and decided it wasn’t worth it.

For the most part, movies in these smallish theaters are a joy. People are kind. They help each other into seats when they have trouble seeing in the dark. They talk during the previews and then are silent when the feature starts. No one’s phone rings. On the rare occasion when I’ve felt it necessary, I’ve gotten employees to tell people to shut up when they decide to talk throughout the movie.

If I’m not satisfied with the way the management handles annoyances, I blame the employees, not the talkers (and explain to management that the service was lacking and a contributing factor to my not wanting to go back). The way I look at it, I bought a ticket for a reasonably enjoyable movie-going experience. It’s up to the management to supply it. No different from when I ask for a no-smoking seat in a restaurant. It’s up to the management to supply me with one, not up to me to enforce their rules.

Then there are the giant multiplexes where all bets are off. I rarely go to these. You really do have to consider the possibility of violence from a bully. I’m not suggesting that it’s likely, but I would think twice before sitting down in the so-called reserved seat because the bully could do anything, and if it’s not an offense horrible enough to call the police or ambulance, you’re out of luck. It’s not like an employee is going to come and break up the fight. It’s like getting into a screaming match on a city sidewalk. The police have no reason to get involved unless a punch is thrown. So while I like the idea that others have suggested of calmly sitting down and waiting for the bully to call security, I’m a little wary of suggesting it.

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ferretrick April 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

“1) If YOU have special circumstances, YOU have to accommodate yourself. As in, opening night of a movie is not for you. Period. You knew it would be crowded and you brought this on yourself. ”

Um, no. The disabled have the legal and moral right to expect reasonable accomodations of their disabilities from other people and from public places. And they have the right to be able to live their lives and enjoy the same activities as the rest of us. Most certainly they have the right to get a seat at a movie where they paid the same price for a ticket as everybody else.

“2) If you just couldn’t control yourself and refused to wait, YOU could have made it easier on yourself by getting there earlier. ”

I’m flabbergasted by your tone and your rudeness.

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Jay April 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

“Do you have twenty tickets?” might also work as an opening line.

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springishere April 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm

If the OP is in the US, then the theater was handicapped accessible–especially since OP says it was an omnitheater and huge. No reason to climb stairs to a seat. If you can’t find handicap accessible seating, you s imply get the manager, explain the situation, and allow him/her to handle it.

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Louise April 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

One person cannot save 20 seats. Had all 20 seats had a coat or bag on them marking them as saved, I would have found somewhere else to sit. Otherwise, I’m taking one of those seats, and if that woman has a problem with it, a manager or usher can sort it out.

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Kat April 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm

@Starry Diadem – I think K might have been saying that it’s the OP’s obligation to be prepared for her party’s needs when going out-which is not the same as saying they have no RIGHT to go out. If I’m visually impaired and choose to go for a walk in the park, I’ll carry a cane or enlist the aid of a canine helper or a friend. The public at large is not expected to remove all obstructions from my path.

K – however, the tone was pretty harsh, and I can see why people are objecting to this. Did you really mean to say that opening night of a movie was “not for you, PERIOD”?

AKatC – this may be different in different parts of the world. Where I am from (midwestern US) you certainly CAN save seats, but no more than your party has purchased tickets for. And if you want your coat to have a seat, you better buy it a ticket.

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phoenix April 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I don’t understand the theme of people claiming that if you are disabled, you should know better than to go to a crowded event or should have known to arrive early.

Here’s how the disabled community I know of works (my main experience is with the blind and wheelchair bound, but I think it’s pretty general)- “My disability is no one else’s fault. I cannot EXPECT anyone to give me more than my fair share of anything. But I have the exact same rights as everyone else too.”

NO ONE has to arrive at a theatre early to avoid a scene with a rude rule-breaker. The seat hog is wrong. Arriving early won’t help. Not only do these people show up 30 minutes early usually, but you’re blaming the wrong person.

That’s a fine line away from “you deserved to be assaulted, you shouldn’t have been out late at night dressed like that.” There are ways you can cut down your risk of bad situations, but if you find yourself in one it isn’t your own fault for not avoiding it. But especially with the disabled. They aren’t obliged to meekly creep in to things early lest they cause a scene by wanting to sit in seats they paid for.

Side note: why has no one pointed out that that woman was actually stealing? If the theatre is sold out, that means the seats she was taking up with coats were sold. To people. What happened to them?

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Chicken April 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I would have simply said, “I’m going to have my family sit here while I go look for other seats.” Then left them while I got an usher and explained the situation. If you really had so many people going to see a movie together more would have already been there unless they were all traveling in the same bus. I’m cool with people saving seats for real people, but when it’s obvious you’re lying the staff needs to get involved.

I do have to question the OP though. What possessed you to take two autistic boys to a movie on opening night? Autism runs in my family myself included and we have all levels, I cant see there not being a freak out at some point. My mother will take my brother to see any movie he wants, but she’d never be so dumb as to take him on the one night the theater is likely to be fullest. I’m not saying people with disabilities should be barred from having fun, but what about everyone else’s comfort? I wonder if there will be an e-hell story about the girl and the two autistic boys at the theater who made a lot of noise, talked during the film, and wouldn’t sit still?

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Rebecca April 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I ran into the same thing when I went to a popular movie with one other friend. We walked in and every unoccupied seat had a coat on it. We found some empty seats in the front aisle section and sat down. This woman in front of us announces that those seats are “taken.” Turns out she was trying to save two entire rows for herself and 12 other friends all coming at different times, who had not arrived at the theatre yet. My friend and I decided to sit down anyway (there really was nowhere else to sit) and she threw a little hissy fit. The woman then began calling all her friends to find out where they were, and “these two women came and sat down in the seats I saved!!”

I agree with the previous person that if 15 people want to sit together, 15 people need to come in together early enough to find 15 seats. OK, maybe if one or two people are late you can save their seats but not one person saving 20 seats.

And the elderly and disabled have every right to be there, too. Sure, they knew it would be crowded, but it seems they arrived at the movie in plenty of time, only to find a plethora of seat-savers.

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ashley April 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Just to clear up on my comment I made earlier, people with disabilities certainly have every right to go to a movie theater or whereever else they want. I just thought it was a little unwise for them to go on the one night where it was most crowded and when there would definatly be difficulties of climbing many stairs due to the crowdedness. Again I’m just glad they were able to find seats in the end and hopefully enjoyed the rest of the night.

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JoW April 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thats one more resason to avoid opening night for any movie.

Seat Hog was rude, no question about it. But on a less-crowed night the OP would have more seats to choose from and it would have been easier to avoid a Seat Hog.

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DocCAC April 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm

I can see both sides of the problem with two autistic children. I would be suprised if there wasn’t a panic attack just because of the crowd, level of excitement in the air from everyone in the theater and the inherent problem of finding seats on opening night of a highly anticipated film (I’m assuming this was the case). That having been said, the differently abled have a right to see the movie, especially if their behavior will not disturb others. If this was a highly anticipated movie, it could be weeks literally for the crowds to thin.

Having said that, since the OP did not think to get management involved (or was afraid to leave her brothers and grandmother long enough to get management), going ahead and sitting in the seats anyway and awaiting the wrath of the entitled seat hog to explode around her and her little family group (which includes TWO autistic children, one of which is already starting to have a panic attack) would have been a big mistake. If anyone out there missed the part about the panic attack not being fun to watch, just think how unfun a full blown meltdown would have been–and may have even resulted in getting asked to leave. I have a neice who is an adult and has Asperger’s who has full blown meltdowns for things much less than an angry, entitled person screaming at her or a family member (I think there are other problems which contribute to these, but perhaps not). On a good day, she would start screaming back, on a bad day, it is much less pretty than a panic attack. The OP already had a pending panic attack over anxiety of not finding a seat. Even sitting the boys and Grandmother down while she went to find management would not have been good, because bullies know how to exploit a weakness and are as good as a feral animal at turning on the weak and I hate to think what she might have come back to, seeing as Grandmother did not speak up and refuse to climb another step. I read it as she, a teen, was the strongest in the group and leaving the rest behind to the monster seat hog…not bright. Had she gone to get management, she risked coming back and not being able to get 4 seats together anywhere in the theater and having two autistic children in full panic attack or meltdown. I have never seen an usher at the huge multiplex and can’t imagine management in general being very readily available. I think she did the best she could in the circumstance, but might have found management on her way out and asked what to do if this recurred and ask about accessible seating for the future or an accessible way to get to those higher rows.

BTW, the only accessible seating I have ever seen is for those in wheelchairs, and the first few rows that you don’t have to climb steps to get to. I have arthritis, and because of another problem have to wear a CROW boot on my left foot and lower leg (think cross between Darth Vader and Frankenstein), so I tend to keep my eye out for these sort of things. I try to find theaters that have ramps or primarily ramps with few steps every now and then. Or I wait for Netflix. I agree with the poster who mentioned smaller theaters, and avoid the monster multiplexes.

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MeganAmy April 6, 2011 at 12:01 am

My friends (a couple in their mid 30s) went to the opening night of a movie which stars teenagers and is popular among the teenage crowd. The theater was packed with preteens and teenagers. There was only one other couple in their late 20s to mid 30s.. They were trying to lie across about 6 seats so that they could lie down during the fully sold out movie. Another couple, in their 30s or so, went and approached this couple and wanted their empty seats. A physical fight broke out between the two couples! And all four were removed from the theater before the show started.

People can get physical if you try to prevent them from hogging seats. And, what a (sarcastic tone) nice demonstration of behavior by the 30-something-year-olds in front of a theater packed with far better behaved teenagers.

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Auryn Grigori April 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

Really? Not everyone on the Autism spectrum gets loud, moves around, or “freaks out” during a movie. The person was a teenager at the time, and she was with her grandmother and her mother, both adults that should know what their children can and can’t do, reasonably. And the fact is, that unless butts were in the seat, that “lady” (and I use the term VERY loosely) had no right to an entire row of seats. Ten, maybe. But not a whole bloody row. The disability of the party was not the issue here, it was that someone decided to hog a whole row for no other reason but because they wanted it, and that no one at the theater had the nerve to tell her no.

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Melnoli April 6, 2011 at 12:53 am

I’ve had the unpleasent experience of being required to save a stack of seats in a movie theatre – I was the band captain on a high school band tour to Adelaide when one of our evenings was a dinner and movie night. Now, there were 35 kids (teenagers) on this trip including myself along with ten accompanying adults, and we were seeing three different movies. As I was seeing the movie that had the most kids going to it (Pirates of the Carribean 2) I was asked to go ahead a reserve a row for the twenty kids coming to watch, since we were having difficulty lining everyone up and purchasing the tickets all at once (having said this, there was still at least 25 minutes until the previews began). Normally we wouldn’t have blocked anything off, but with so many minors and few adults we really needed everyone to sit together.

I managed to save most of the seats needed to seat our group by explaining politely to the few patrons who were also early that I was with a school group, and would they mind taking a seat elsewhere? We were fortunate in that the session was not too crowded, so there was no shortage of seats in the theatre.

One adult man told me to ‘get f***ed’ and sat in the middle of the area I’d been trying to corner off. He then proceeded to ‘save’ several seats for his girlfriend and several friends who’d gone to buy popcorn. Once the rest of the students arrived (before previews started) he refused to move, swearing at some of the kids for sitting in ‘his’ seats. The end result was that several students shared chairs (since the armrests could all be raised we’d sit three students in two chairs, etc) and I sat on the floor. I appreciated that seats couldn’t be reserved, but I always felt that the man handled the situation rather badly.

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weasel April 6, 2011 at 2:36 am

In my home country each cinema ticket comes with a seat number. You choose your seats when you purchase your ticket. They have a little map of the cinema with seat numbers, you choose from there. I’m wondering if introducing a system like this will be a good idea?

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FunkyMunky April 6, 2011 at 3:51 am

At a sold-out session of a movie’s first showing, my sister and her husband were unable to find two seats together. The closest they could get was one on the aisle and the other two seats in, with another person in between. The patron refuses to move (which was his right) but then refused to let my BIL sit in the middle seat, as the person on the other side of the gap was his wife, and they ‘needed that seat for their things’. The teenaged usher was no help, so Sis sat in the aisle seat and BIL sat in the aisle. I wish they’d thought to ask if the people’s things had a ticket.

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Cherry April 6, 2011 at 5:08 am

In the UK, this vaires at the cinema’s choice. Some places say “Pick a seat, any seat”, whereas others assign seating.

This would frustrate me so much. I’d be tempted to comment at the end of the film: “I’m so glad your coats were comfortable and had such a good view.” or “I’m so pleased that you think you are automatically more entitled than everyone else here.”

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mmaire April 6, 2011 at 5:17 am

I feel as though this is situation everyone has encountered. My teenage brother and I went to see the midnight premiere of Paranormal Activity whenever it came out. It was about twenty minutes before the film began, and the cinema was already quite full. In the front, towards the end of a row, there was a lad sat, a coat in the chair beside him, and two empty seats beside that. We politely moved in past him and sat down in those seats – he was on his mobile and didn’t seem to notice. About five minutes later, he seems to notice that we’ve been sitting. “Sorry, seats are saved,” he informs us. I told him that they absolutely were not, there had been nothing to mark them so and he’s not said a thing for five minutes, and that we were in them and would not be moving. I suspected that he got last minute word via his mobile that an extra person or two was coming. I was not moving.

He pitched a fit, and called the usher/managers. Seriously, they WILL NOT remove a paying customer from a seat because someone ‘saved it’. The best part is that while he was gone to fetch someone, a pair of girls asked if the seats next to us (his and the one his coat had been on) were occupied. My brother told them no, so ALL ‘his seats’ were gone when he returned. I think they gave him vouchers for a few tickets or something of that nature, which seemed to work out best.

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