When I was sixteen, my only viable skill was sneaking into movie theaters. I had done it in megaplexes and art houses all over town, and had even been approached by theater managers requesting that I test their employees in exchange for free movie passes. Since I was seeing their movies for free anyway, I’d politely decline while stealing a box of milk duds.
In honor of Secret Agent Week here at Film School Rejects, I’ve been asked to share my genius methods with the hopes that you too can become a master of ducking the airtight security systems found at every major theater chain in the country. Unfortunately, while I can tell you how to sneak into films, I still can’t tell you how to sneak into film school.
It should also be noted, for boring legal reasons, that Film School Rejects doesn’t actually condone its readers doing anything illegal – like sneaking into theaters – and also doesn’t condone, in general, listening to anything I say.
1. The Concession Stand Social Hack
In the world of the megaplex, social engineering is your best friend. So is the pimple-ridden, minimum wage employee ripping your ticket. Do not be fooled by their doltish appearance. In reality, they are first rate security agents with licenses to kill if you don’t have the right ticket. If you’re lucky, they’ll make your death a quick one. But they aren’t impervious to super-spy tactics.
Before heading to your theater, buy a ticket’s worth in popcorn and soda. Make sure to appear awkward and off-balance – try holding the popcorn, the soda, your wallet and a cell phone. The more distractions the better. When you come face to face with the ticket-taker, rashly claim that your ticket is in your pocket while dropping popcorn everywhere and threatening to spill a jumbo soda all over the kiosk. Overacting helps. So does a busy, long line of other customers. Any sane minimum-wage employee will let you pass without hassle.
I can’t tell you how many times this has worked for me. If you don’t mind spending a little to get something free, it’s a sure-fire way to get past security. Either think of it as a free ticket or free snacks. Plus, with a little theater-hopping, the pay off increases exponentially.
2. The Hearing Enhancement / Taser Combination
For less than $200, you can procure a Bionic Ear that will allow you to hear whispered conversations from up to (by my estimate) four hundred miles away. Luckily, you won’t need that sort of distance. Set up shop in the arcade, and focus in on when your old nemesis, the ticket-taker, says that he’s going to go on break to eat lunch or apply more zit cream. As soon as he’s left his post, tuck and roll out into the lobby and follow him. Once alone, use your handy $400 Air Taser (that’s conveniently Not In Stock) to take the bastard down. Change into his uniform, and you can not only see all the movies you want for free, but you can deny perfectly legitimate patrons entrance. Of course, doing so would draw unwanted attention to yourself and probably result in an assault and battery charge.
See 60 movies using this method, and the equipment will have paid for itself.
3. The Lung Cancer Maneuver
You’ve idolized Jay and Silent Bob for their slacking abilities for years, and now it’s time to emulate them in order to get free movies. For this maneuver, you’ll need to blend in with the crowd, so wear something inconspicuous like black pants, black turtleneck and black ski mask with spy goggles. Incognito is the way to go.
Find the nearest exit. That’s right. You’ll be entering through the exit. It seems confusing at first, but just go with me on this one. Once you’ve found it, lean up against the wall and pull out the only prop you’ll need – a cigarette that’s been pre-lit and sitting in your pocket. Or you can bring two props, the cigarette and a lighter, but it’s risky. Stand around smoking long enough, and soon, waves of people will be coming out of the exit. When they do, it’s your cue to slide inside undetected.
Bonus points if you continue to smoke while inside. If a theater manager finds you and tells you to take your smoke outside, politely apologize and claim you were just trying to catch a buzz before going to see your movie. Put out the cigarette on his theater manager’s vest and try not to laugh as you walk into your (free) film.
If you’re like me and you hate the idea of smoking, talking on a cell phone works just as well. Slide into the hallway while talking to a “friend” about how you’re excited to see the movie you’re sneaking into or get into an “argument” about how they are running really late and are “totally” going to miss the trailers. If a theater manager overhears you, he’ll assume you’ve already had your ticket ripped and leave you alone. Then, put a cigarette out on his manager’s vest just in case.
4. Get Facial Reconstructive Surgery Every Three Months
I fail to understand how this can help you sneak into movies, but it couldn’t hurt.
5. Hit Up Free Screenings
If you live in a larger city, there’s a solid chance that a public relations firm there hosts free screenings on a weekly basis. If you can, figure out how to get on their mailing list to get into free screenings. Even if you do, though, you won’t be invited to all of them. Chances are you won’t be able to get on one anyway.
So, the best method is to try your luck. Tell your arch-enemy the ticket-taker that you’re there for the free screening and see if it works. These screenings are usually on weekday nights after people get home from work in the evening, and they really do happen all the time. If it’s a miss, try another method of breaking on through to the other side. No harm done.
Of course, if there is a free screening, you’ll have to deal with the event coordinator, and your name is definitely not on the list. To avoid the issue, swear that your wife or husband made the arrangements, and you’re embarrassed that you don’t seem to be on the list. Chances are they don’t have a full house anyway, and you should easily be able to ask to just head on in. After all, the more people that see it, the better. Since your significant other messed up the RSVP, ask the person with the clipboard for information on getting into free screenings in the future so that your idiot husband can’t screw things up again.
With this method, not only do you get to see movies for free, you also get to see them before they’re released. Plus, you can always ask the ticket-taker nicely (pretend you don’t hate him with a seething passion) when the next free screening is coming up.
6. Tunnel Your Way Into the Theater
Are you ready to get serious about sneaking in? For a few bucks, you can purchase the blueprint schematics to your local theater at the City Manager’s office. For a few dollars more you can snag some shovels and light drilling equipment from the local hardware store.
Set up shop at the most vulnerable point in the structure – you’ll need a hard hat, some orange cones and what appears to be a work order from the city. Don’t worry, you can print one up easily or just wave some carbon paper in the face of anyone who dares to challenge you.
Then start digging.
At a steady pace, you should be sliding the bathroom grate out of the way and popping your head out into the light in a matter of days. Keep your tunnel undetected so you can reuse it time and time again. Just watch out for buried electrical lines.
7. Gets Someone Working For You on The Inside
Even easier than sneaking into the theater is not sneaking into the theater. Convince a friend to start working at the local megaplex, and you’ll be seeing free movies whenever you want. Even more awesome, you’ll have a source for all the movie posters and free memorabilia you could ask for. Everyone has a friend who’s in that dead end job at the respectable law firm that’s about to make him partner. Convince him to give up that foolish dream for the thrill and excitement of regional cineplex managing, and you’ll be swimming in nepotism and free movies in no time.
If you can’t get a friend to do it, befriend the current theater manager. Feign interest in his Master of the Universe figurine collection, gain his trust, and then utilize that friendship to walk ticketlessly into any theater in the joint.
These methods are not fool-proof. They require skill and quick thinking that you probably don’t possess. But if you think you’re up for the challenge and own several black turtle necks, you just might be able to avoid the ticket booth for the rest of your life. As said before, I can’t condone the use of any of these methods in the pursuit of anything blatantly illegal, but who am I to tell you that you can’t not use some of the methods that may or may not have been shared with you for the express or mostly implied purpose of possibly, for research purposes only, getting into movies with or without having paid the full ticket price?
Man, I hate legal jargon. Good luck and happy sneaking.