The Weekly Moviegoer - Is Movie Hopping Acceptable?
by Christopher Campbell
July 29, 2009
I wonder what my grandmother thought of film piracy. I am suddenly curious because she passed away earlier this month, and I never thought to ask her before she died. The reason it would be interesting to know is she's the one who introduced me to movie hopping - the art of buying one ticket and staying inside the theater to see other movies. Of course, most of us don't think of sneaking into a movie as being equal in offense to pirating a movie. Which is why it would have been neat to know if someone of her generation saw any difference -- not that she was tech savvy enough to download a pirated film, but still.
I've never downloaded a movie, either, though this is more to do with a fear of and unluckiness with viruses than with morals. But I also rarely movie hop or sneak into films, primarily because I don't often have room in my schedule for more than one movie at a time. Yet when I worked in movie theaters, whether as an usher or as a manager, I would always look the other way when someone was clearly stretching their single ticket purchase for a double, triple or even quadruple feature. If I had ever seen a video camera being used to pirate in an auditorium, however, I would have likely called the cops.
Many times it was whole families I'd notice movie hopping together, and that's one of the reasons it was easy to let it slide. How awkward is it to have to scold Mom and Dad in front of the kids? I think about how I learned -- or at least got my first taste -- of hopping from Grandma, and it's funny how something so technically illegal is typically a family tradition. Or, maybe it's just a tradition for cheap families, an attempt to teach the kids about milking something for as much as you can get away with.
Does movie hopping even hurt the movie industry as much as piracy? Obviously it doesn't, because one film pirate can get a film to thousands if not millions of people who might otherwise buy a movie ticket. Sneaking into another movie after paying for one is on a much smaller scale both because there's less people involved in each instance and because the person has at least paid for one movie and probably bought concessions too (likely the refillable giant size concessions that can be replenished between films). Still, movie hopping is a kind of movie theft.
Much of the time the second movie entered is something the person, or family, wouldn't have bothered with anyway. And usually they don't even see the whole film. For my inaugural hop with Grandma, she paid for us to see Death Becomes Her and then we later snuck into Sister Act, which was half over when we walked in. I might not have seen Sister Act otherwise, but if I'd enjoyed the half I saw, maybe I would have gone to see the whole thing later on. Either way, at the time I was just glad to see anything else to make up for how bad Death Becomes Her was.
Maybe movie hopping fulfills some kind of entitlement issue. If the movie we paid for is terrible, we feel deserving of another show. Or, in general, because of how expensive the movies are, we feel deserving of another show. When Grandma was a kid she probably got to see a whole day's worth of movies for a small amount of change, and that certainly had something to do with her reasoning behind being okay with hopping.
I have no interest in sneaking into a movie that's already begun, which is another reason I never really hop anymore. But when I had more free time as a youth, I would plan out my hopping by figuring out running times and accounting for the ad/trailer preshow so that I could exit the first film as it ended and walk into the next auditorium with little wait time until it started. Unfortunately, either showtime scheduling has gotten less accommodating now or I'm getting too tired to do the work. I honestly can't remember the last time I hopped. Once there's more than one good movie playing at the multiplex, though, I just might make the effort, in honor of Grandma.
How about you? When was the last time you hopped?