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Author Topic: New Arm-Rest Call System
Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 08-06-2006 07:08 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just heard on one of the early Sunday morning "new" show that some theatres -- no specific name or location given -- is installing a system that presumably will attack one of the main complaints that is almost always heard by patrons for one of the main reasons they hate going to the cinema -- that of rude and rowdy patrons acting out in the theatre and distracting the enjoyment of the show.

In years past, before the spawn of the multiplex, there were always enough ushers (and at matinees, pretty scary older, heavy-set women who were called "matrons") who would pretty much be positioned IN the theatre throughout a good portion of the show. That authoritative presence kept rowdy behavior to a minimum.

As the number of screens multiplied, the number of usher employees pretty much remained the same (the whole advantage of the multiplex is to be able run more theatres less employees and hence a smaller payroll). Nowadays you can be in a theatre from preshow crap thru the end of the credit crawl and NEVER see any staff, be it ushers or security or anyone else.

So now when kids are talking on their cell phones or loudly to each other or kicking seats or whatever, this new system lets any patron who is being disturbed to push a call button on the arm-rest; you push the button and it acts like the call button on airlines or hospitals. Push it and it calls the management who can look at the theatre via an infrared camera and monitor system and then can dispatch ushers or even security to the offending theatre where the call was initiated.

I guess this allows management to keep the usher and security staff down even more since now only a few would be necessary to keep the idiots under control and only needed when called. Sounds like a good idea, at least if it doesn't replace routine visits to each theatre by the usher staff; my fear is that it might tempt management to say, well, we've got this spiffy new system, we don't need people to check the rooms.

As I said, the report gave very little concrete information -- who manufactures it....who's installing it -- but I am sure they will be at the next Show East or West. Seems to me, it would be pretty easy to rig and implement this sort of system. Of course there has to be someone paying attention to the call alert signals. Problem is, if the kids they hire to pay attention to this call system are as attentive to it as they are to what's going on with the image on the screen or the sound in the theatre, you could be pressing that call button until you dislodge it from the arm-rest before you will ever see anyone responding to your distress call. [Mad]

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Anslem Rayburn
Master Film Handler

Posts: 476
From: Yuma, AZ, USA
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 08-06-2006 08:41 AM      Profile for Anslem Rayburn   Email Anslem Rayburn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And how do you deal with 'false alarms'? Either customers pressing the button for fun, or accidentally? Seems it could increase payroll to put a staff on hand to monitor calls that might be registered accidentally (or on purpose to watch someone run in to the rescue). Terrible idea, IMHO.

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Steve Vega
Film Handler

Posts: 2
From: Garfield, New Jersey
Registered: Jul 2006

 - posted 08-06-2006 10:13 AM      Profile for Steve Vega   Email Steve Vega   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm pretty sure it could be rigged so that management would know who's pushing the alarm, that way when the teenagers start pressing it for fun the ushers will know where they're sitting and can handle it from there.

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1431
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004

 - posted 08-06-2006 10:28 AM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Anslem Rayburn
And how do you deal with 'false alarms'? Either customers pressing the button for fun, or accidentally? Seems it could increase payroll to put a staff on hand to monitor calls that might be registered accidentally (or on purpose to watch someone run in to the rescue). Terrible idea, IMHO.
Such a system SHOULD be able to show you what seat is calling (just like an airliner), therefore you should be able to point out and confront troublemakers. Which may or may not help...

But the staffing issue is a concern even for legit complaints. I would say that today, patrons let a lot of things go. You have to have a pretty obnoxious patron, or screw up a presentation pretty badly, to get people to make the trip from their seat to a staffer (which usually means the main concession stand) to complain. I sat in a movie where the picture was out of frame (we're talking top of the image in the middle of the screen here) and nobody got up. When I finally did, somebody yelled "Tell them to turn up the volume too!".

Can you imagine your staff running around answering everybody hitting the button for every little thing?

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 08-06-2006 01:55 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That system would present so many problems, it boggles the mind. You'd not only have bathroom-goers and late arrivals, now you'd have staff walking through the aisles and down the rows to answer complaints, most of which would probably be along the lines of "there's not enough ice in my soda."

There's just no substitute for an employee strolling the aisles every few minutes, or at least standing in the back of the auditorium and scanning the crowd. That solution would be a lot cheaper and work a lot better than the push button thing.

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Caleb Johnstone-Cowan
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 593
From: London, UK
Registered: Mar 2006

 - posted 08-06-2006 04:44 PM      Profile for Caleb Johnstone-Cowan   Email Caleb Johnstone-Cowan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Problem with the call-button system is that you could end up with a chain out-sourcing security to respond to the system and out-sourcing all cleaning (most of the latter seem to use less than legit staff). So you have no proper floor staff to provide customer service.

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Bill Gabel
Film God

Posts: 3873
From: Technicolor / Postworks NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 08-08-2006 04:19 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel   Email Bill Gabel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Angel
no specific name or location given
The testing will be happening at Regal's Deer Valley 16 complex in Antioch, California.


It's near the bottom of the page at their site.

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1431
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004

 - posted 08-08-2006 04:22 PM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We need to fill the test auditorium and have everybody hit the button at the same time.

Then when somebody comes in, everybody can ask "What's this button for?"

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Dave Williams
Wet nipple scene

Posts: 1836
From: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Registered: Jan 2000

 - posted 08-08-2006 09:54 PM      Profile for Dave Williams   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Williams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you check out that link there you can plainly see the device, and that it has four buttons to generalize the complaint, and that the device is numbered, and my bet is that they will not need to guess where the complaint is if it sends a location signal as well.


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Christopher Meredith
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 126
From: Jackson, MS, USA
Registered: Apr 2006

 - posted 08-09-2006 09:12 AM      Profile for Christopher Meredith   Author's Homepage   Email Christopher Meredith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Regal is testing this out. It's actually not an arm rest button, it's a little remote like for your car. And in the test areas, the remotes are only being given out to one or two patrons per film, and they're specifically selected for either being regulars or Regal Crown Club members to cut down on horsing around with the remotes. The customers who agree to use these things usually get some kind of compensation such as reduced admission or free concessions.

The remote can send basic signals about what the problem is (noisy customers, seat kicking, camcorders, etc.) and what theater it is being sent from. But as of yet, there's no way for theater staff to identify where in the theater the signal came from.

So far, the test program amounts to enlisting select customers as secret enforcers. Should be interesting to see how it turns out.

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Jesse Skeen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1517
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Aug 2000

 - posted 08-09-2006 01:09 PM      Profile for Jesse Skeen   Email Jesse Skeen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd keep hitting the buttons until they turn off the 2wenty or Firstlook or whatever the hell it's called now [evil]

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Mike Spaeth
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1129
From: Marietta, GA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 08-09-2006 04:29 PM      Profile for Mike Spaeth   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Spaeth   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We all know that you hate the's actually very well-produced...

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Eric Hooper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 532
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 08-17-2006 02:00 PM      Profile for Eric Hooper   Email Eric Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ya'all know I can wait 2-3 months now and see the newewst blockbuster (or not) in the comfort of my own chair at home, with my home theatre set up, and there's no need for a 'panic/call' button. [Razz] [Big Grin]

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