“I’m sorry… Our movie theater is controlled by the corporate office in Texas.” Huh?!

One isolated incident is an anomaly. Two may be a trend.

Let me explain…

About a year ago my wife and I were regular attenders at a local movie theater in the Provo area (which will, naturally, remain unnamed). By “regular” I mean we saw maybe two movies a month. One Friday evening, while waiting for my wife in the theater lobby, I stood watching movie trailers on a really nice, big, flat-panel display hanging on the wall. I noticed immediately a mouse arrow obnoxiously situated in the middle of the screen. That told me three important things: 1) The display was being driven by a computer, rather than a DVD player set to loop; 2) Whoever launched the trailers application forgot to move the cursor out of the way afterward; 3) Nobody bothered to look at the output to see if it was working properly. Ever.

The next time we were at this theater (a week or two later) I sought out the display to see if the cursor was still there. Sure enough! This time, though, I also sought out a manager, pointed out the obnoxious arrow and suggested that someone could go to the computer that’s generating the video and move the mouse arrow to the edge. Here comes the staggering part… And I swear I am not making this up. The manager apologetically told me that the video shown on that flat panel display was generated by a computer in Texas, at the corporate office, that he had complained repeatedly to them about it, that nothing had ever been done, and that the people in Texas were gone for the weekend after 5:00 Friday afternoons.

The good news: The manager took responsibility, offered rational explanations for the observed phenomena, and didn’t make me feel like the obsessive techno-geek that I actually am.

The really silly news: Your video feed is controlled in Texas?! Ok, fine. Maybe I can buy that. But nobody in the corporate office will fix that?! Harder to swallow. And nobody at the corporate office is available on Friday and Saturday nights when most your weekly revenue shows up?! Hmmm.

So I chalked it up as an anomalous blip, an inexplicable amusement. Until this last Friday.

We were at a dollar movie theater on Friday afternoon for a matinee showing of “Night at the Museum” ($1 each before 5:00!). This theater shows late run movies, about the time they come out on DVD, so you can get the live movie experience (sticky floor, greasy popcorn, crying babies, cell phone interruptions, talking teenagers) for cheaper than you could buy the DVD and take it home to your own family for a home movie experience (sticky floor, greasy popcorn, crying babies, cell phone interruptions, talking teenagers).

As we walked up to give our tickets to the ticket dude, we found instead what appeared to be the theater manager standing there. As he took our tickets, he warned us that the recent cold snap had taken the theater by surprise after unseasonably warm weather, and that now the air conditioner was running despite the fact that it was about 35 degrees outside. He then continued to tell us that he had been on the roof to personally try and fix it, that it was no help, and that we might want to consider grabbing our jackets from the car, because… (drumroll please…) the air conditioning was controlled by the corporate office in Texas, and nobody was in that office after 5:00 on Friday, Texas time! I would not make something like this up. I swear.

The good news: The manager took responsibility, offered rational explanations for the observed phenomena, and graciously protected us from an unnaturally chilly movie viewing experience.

The extremely silly news: Your air conditioning is controlled in Texas?! No, not fine. Nobody in the corporate office is available on Friday and Saturday nights when most of your weekly revenue shows up?! Even more silly in this case.

It begs the question: Does what we gain in corporate centralization compensate for what we lose in local responsiveness? I’d have to ask the corporate office… but… they’re closed.

3 thoughts on ““I’m sorry… Our movie theater is controlled by the corporate office in Texas.” Huh?!

  1. Reminds me of a time about 8 months ago, at the Hertz lot at DFW airport…

    All the flight information for the airport was displayed for Hertz’ customer convenience on 3 very large plasma monitors, hung side by side. The display looked typically “airport-ish”, with the arrival/departure times displayed…

    But displayed prominently, spread across all three monitors, in a 1-foot-high messagebox, on top of the flight information, was the message…”Your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file. During this process, memory requests for some applications may be denied. For more information, see Help.”

    I told the people at the counter, and they said they had no idea that it was saying that, and even more important, no idea what to do or who to call. The display always just “worked.” Pretty funny…

  2. This is still one of the most restarted things I’ve heard; thermostats that don’t have a local temperature sensor?? What are these, space-age IP thermostats? Do they have their own static IPs? Are they controlled by a web browser? Still stupid. And who wants it to be 35 degrees inside even if it is 90 outside? I wanna know which chain this is, though I have a feeling I already do know. And doesn’t the bandwidth required to run these displays cost more than it would to have a cheap local Win XP box running the thing? Or even a basic DVD or HD-DVD player?

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