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The Arclight is a premiere movie theatre in Los Angeles.  They started with one of them in Hollywood built around the classic Cineramadome, and since then they have taken over two other movie theatres and repurposed them in Sherman Oaks and in Pasadena.

The Arclight's philosophy is that they treat the movie going experience like a special event, quite unlike most movie theatres today.  Mostly they are perceived as overgrown living rooms maintained by directionless teenagers who don't bother to clean soda stains off the screens or pick the gum off of the seats and are often occupied by rude, loud, texting people.  In other words, "normal".  Arclights are supposed to be a new generation of film attending experiences, and for the most part, they work.

For each screening througout the theatre, seats are assigned and you are helped to find your seat by attendants at the doors.  The theatres are well designed, incredibly clean, and generally have outstanding picture and sound.  The snack bar offers fare that is nearly gourmet compared to your standard AMC or General Cinema, and they have a restaurant that serves excellent food, a bar that serves signature cocktails and the waiters are told what time your movie starts so you aren't late.  You are not allowed to buy tickets to a movie more than 5 minutes past it's show time, or enter the theatre during the first several minutes of the film.  There is no in-cinema adverstising or commercial loops playing before the film, and each film is only allowed three trailers before the feature begins.  Each film is even introduced by an actual human being in uniform that tells you anything you need to know, to not talk or text during the movie, and that they will be standing off to the side for a bit to make sure that the picture and sound are "up to Arclight's high standards".

In short, anyone who really loves going to the movies will pay the minor price hike to go see movies at an Arclight, and they were an instant success in the Hollywood film crowd.  Honestly, it's incredibly difficult to go see a movie anywhere else, now.

And that's the problem: they know that.

These are some very smart people that tapped into something that no one else can compete with, and now that people know what it can be like to go to the movies money is falling like rain... and some folks have let their success go to their heads.

Some of the employees of this brilliant and highly acclaimed monopoly have decided that their status as minions of the Arclight somehow improves their social ranking beyond simple ticket-takers and they have adopted the attitude that they are somehow actually part of the film making process.  This is by no means ubiquitous amongst the employees, and many of them are delightfully friendly an efficient - but others seem to have mistaken their presence at big Hollywood premieres as actually being part of the process, and they treat patrons of the theatre as "little people".

This has become a really amazing problem at these theatres, and I've been part of many discussions amongst fellow Arclight patrons discussing this appalling attitude.  There have been countless instances of snooty ticket sales people turning up their noses at the people buying tickets.  Concessions workers that are more interested in finishing their personal conversations than helping a patron waiting in line to buy something.  Sighs of exasperation when asking for specific seats when buying tickets, and restaurant employees that seem to judge whether or not you are worthy before seating you in their bar.

This operation has grown far too big for its britches, as my Texas upbringing demands I declare, and these people need to be brought back down to earth.  A far better description of these events is contained in my letter to the Customer Service link on Arclight's website, reprinted here:

To the Manager of Arclight Hollywood,

I am an Arclight Member, movie enthusiast and long-time film professional and until very recently I've considered the Arclight Hollywood to be the best movie-going experience in Los Angeles. My girl and I generally only go to Arclights, and the few times we've returned to AMC have only furthered our resolve. You guys have built a great machine.

However recently I've become increasingly irritated with the attitude of your lobby staff. It has been a consistent theme with the people working the ticket counter, and it's gotten to where I dread having to do anything but get pre-purchased tickets and walk to the theatre. I've had several very unfriendly, unhelpful and bad-attitude experiences over the last few months, but this weekend was bad enough to decide to write to you. I'm tired of it.

On Friday I bought tickets online for a movie that I was not able to attend, and I went to the ticket sales counter to exchange them for vouchers for a different movie. The gentleman helping me was incredibly condecsending and treated me like a child while exchanging my tickets. This was a little frustrating, but when I returned on Sunday to see a different film, I went up to the ticket counter and was assisted by Elise, who spoke to both me and my girl in the most unhelpful, patronizing manner I have ever experienced from a service professional.

The theatre was almost empty, and when she showed me the screen of the seating chart she had pre-selected two seats. We accepted but asked that she move us over one seat to be more centered, but instead she ignored my request and just printed tickets as they were. When I mentioned, in a most friendly tone, that I'd asked for the seats to be moved one seat over she gave me a snide smile and stated, "The theatre is empty, sir, feel free to sit wherever you like" in the most snooty fashion you can imagine.

In a theatre where I have been turned away for being one minute late to buy a ticket for a show in the middle of a week day (by a policy thumping attendant who seemed to truly relish being able to refuse selling me the ticket - another example of the attitude shared by the ticket staff - I get it, I was late - but she didn't have to enjoy it so much), I was a bit surprised - but then, like we weren't even there, Elise turned to another attendent next to her, shook her head and smiled - sharing an "aren't the little people so stupid" moment. She handed the ticket to me without even looking at me, still smirking to her friend. She seemed to not realize that the ticket counter is not an opaque wall and that my buying tickets is what allows her to have a paycheck and that attitude.

The words she spoke were not offensive, but the attitude was appalling, and both of us walked away in complete disbelief that we had just been treated that way. I'm not interested in getting Elise in trouble, or anyone else for that matter, but I'd like to think that this is an issue that you can help to influence. This is not just an issue about Elise, but above almost everyone that I've dealt with at that counter over the last several months.

I spend more than $1000 a year on movie tickets, and I would like to continue to spend that at the Arclight, but this has become a serious problem for me and many other people as well. Amongst my friends we've actually had multiple discussions about it, and it's become almost normal to expect to be treated like a bother to your ticket counter staff - and this is clearly unprofessional. I know that the Arclight is a premiere movie theatre, but there is no reason for your staff to carry the attitude that they do; it is a service position, and I expect to be treated like a paying customer. Most other staff are exceptional - from concessions to the theatre stewards - and I don't understand why this can't also be reflected throughout the venue.

I hope that you are concerned with this issue and can help to do something about it. I don't want to be scared to go to the ticket counter any more for fear of being treated like I'm not important enough to be there.

Thank you for your time,

Josh Logan

To my great surprise (I'm always surprised by efficient staff), a customer service representative contacted me the very next day via email:

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 7:02 PM
Subject: RE: Guests Complaint - Case # PAC-27468

Dear Joshua:

Thank you for contacting ArcLight Cinemas.

I am very sorry to hear about your last visit. We take issues like yours extremely seriously. Therefore I have sent your concerns to our entire leadership team. Someone should be contacting you in order to discuss your matter in to further details.

Please accept are sincerest apologies regarding your most recent visit.
Someone will be contacting you shortly in order to resolve this matter with you.

Jeremy Regan
ArcLight Guest Services

This was a completely acceptible response to my complaint, and I was pleased.  However, several weeks passed with no further contact.  This is not the action of someone who "takes issues like yours very seriously", but I know everyone has other stuff going on so I sent in another query.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 5:46 PM
To: ArcLight - Member Services
Subject: RE: Guests Complaint - Case # PAC-27468

Hi Jeremy, it's been almost a month since you returned my email, and I have yet to hear from anyone regarding this matter.


Again, I received an almost immediate response:

-----Original Message-----
From: Regan, Jeremy []
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 6:45 PM
Subject: RE: Guests Complaint - Case # PAC-27468

Dear Josh:

Thank you again for contacting ArcLight Cinemas.

I am sorry that your response has not yet arrived. I did contact the
entire leadership team to inform them that you are still in need of a
response. Please accept our apologies. It was not our intention not to
respond to this matter.

Jeremy Regan
ArcLight Guest Services

The rest of this facinating story as it unfolds in the Blog.