A Look at Movie Theater (Non-)Cleanliness

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2012 at 1:20 pm,

disgusting movie theaters header A Look at Movie Theater (Non )Cleanliness

There is very little doubt in my mind that while reading the title of this article you’re either nodding in agreement or shaking your head in disgust, as you recall a repulsive memory about a cleanliness issue at your favorite multiplex.

Every person in the world who has ever frequented a movie theater – be it a small “mom and pop” theater or one of those super-mega-multi-screen complexes – has at one point viewed a film in a less-than-clean environment.

Sticky floors that feel like you’re walking on fly paper, smelly, musky air, gum on the armrest or bathrooms reminiscent of a Greyhound bus station – these are just some of the sanitation issues plaguing modern day moviegoers.

I know what you’re thinking (I’m psychic), “Paul, don’t be hard on theater chains. Not every theater is that way.

To that I say, “Nope, you are wrong!” Most (if not every) theater in America, and most likely the world, has similar problems. As long as humans continue to watch films in theaters the problem will likely never be resolved – in fact, I think the problem may be getting worse.


Bed Bugs

disgusting movie theaters bed bugs A Look at Movie Theater (Non )Cleanliness

Image courtesy of FreakingNews.com

For example, take the recent story on CNN about an AMC movie theater in New York City that was shutdown and fumigated for bed bugs. Says CNN in its report:

“The AMC Empire 25 movie theater closed Tuesday night for extermination and reopened Wednesday.”

I know what you are thinking (I’m psychic remember?), “Paul, that is only one theater.” Again, you would be wrong. CNN goes on to report:

“The bloodsucking pests were found at another New York AMC location, the Magic Johnson Harlem 9, on July 30.”

That’s two major theater locations (which are owned by a major movie theater company) and the sanitation issues are so bad that the seats have bed bugs! I’m thinking that AMC should incorporate the same type of rule that hotels have for swimming in their pools – shower before entering. The infestations make me wonder: what else could be lurking in those seats?



disgusting movie theaters lice A Look at Movie Theater (Non )Cleanliness

I found several instances, over the past few years, where news agencies found more horror on movie theater seats than they did on the screen. If there can be bed bugs on the armrests and seat pans, then why couldn’t there be lice on the headrests?

Answer: there CAN be lice on the headrests. I’ll let that sink in for a moment – as you start to feel your skin crawl.

While there hasn’t been a well-publicized report of someone getting lice from a movie theater seat in the past ten years, according to a report on lice by the North Dakota Department of Health:

Sharing coat hooks, lockers, car/bus/airplane and MOVIE THEATER SEATS also provides ideal situations for the transmission of head lice.

Maybe I’m overly-alarmed about Lice, considering there hasn’t been a major incident in quite a few years. I don’t want to be that “sky is falling” guy, but I may start bringing my own headrest cover to theaters from now on.


Fecal Matter

disgusting movie theaters bathroom A Look at Movie Theater (Non )Cleanliness

Back in 2008, KLTV News in East Texas ran a special report on theater seats in their area, and the findings – while disturbing – where equally unsurprising. Everyone has probably watched a similar report, where an independent lab swabs several public areas to see what disgusting bacteria they can find.

What was the number one contaminant found in KLTV’s theater seat study? FECAL MATTER! That’s right, the movie you are watching isn’t the only crappy thing in your favorite theater. Microbiologist Dr. Richard Wallace, with UT Health Science Center, spoke to KLTV:

“You never know what’s hiding underneath or what’s hiding on top of those seats. What I expected was skin organisms, the typical type of staph species things and those were almost universal in all the samples. You expect that because of people laying their hands on the seats. What I didn’t expect were what we call stool organisms or fecal organisms.”

Continue to other horrors you might encounter in your local cineplex…

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  1. Texting dont bother me,i dont do it,but i suppose some ppl do…

  2. Touche’, quantum leap never impressed me either Beckett.

    • Quantum Leap rocks! In its time it was “all that”.

  3. Yeah OldMan, Kai was the focal point of the entire series. Btw, Brigadoom was my least favorite episode. Lol,,,

    Since season 1 wasn’t seen by everone at the time, I think the producers wanted to show how Kai and the Brunnan-G, were a peaceful race turned evil by the actions of the Devine Order. It was also a parody of the show Cop Rock.

    Did you see the episode in season 4 when Kai plays chess with Prince?.
    That was one of my favs.

    Season 3 and its heaven / hell dynamic was also very well done.

    • The chess match? Yeah I have all the episodes on tape. That was a good one. It really made me wonder how it was going to turn out until the end, I thought Vlad was almost as good that season, by the way. since we were getting close to the end of the show, I didn’t really look around for news on how many episodes were left by 4:18, because it was saddening, that I do remember…

  4. Wow I’m extremely surprised about all the things that I have read, in all my life I haven’t had any bad experience with a movie theather, all of them are clean including the bathrooms.

  5. The sad part is that non of this is shocking. Going to the movies really is an awful experience. Not only is every single theater nasty if nothing else it at least has the sticky floor, but there are always annoying people. Some one leaves their phone on some people talk “Na don’t go in there he’s behind the dooor!!”

  6. This is why I have my own pair of 3D glasses (both regular and iMax versions) that I keep clean and in good working order.

    Your right about it being more of a patron problem then a theatre clenaing issue. In thsi day and age its amazing how many still don;t so much as wash their hands. Even if they truly believe tehir u-know-what don;t stink or isn;t dirty they are still suing an area where others do so my question is “Do you think everyones u-know-waht doesn;t stink either and is always perfectly clean so theres no need to wash your hands?”

    BTW – The theatres are supposed to have the 3D glasses washed between showings. They do, in my experinece, have teh glass wrapped and not just re-bagged so I assume they are doing some kind of cleaning.

  7. In my theater we give the glasses and the ppl keep them. Oh and theres rug, so no sticky floors :D

    • yeah just dirty rugs…even better lol

  8. Vlad was a good one. There were several Devine assassins that ended up on Earth.

    Yeah the last 2 episodes were pretty sad. Everything went to hell.
    Lyekka vs Japan, and Yo Way Yo was a perfect 2 part finale to the series?

    • ********* SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT ****************

      Did you ever wish they had continued with “Little LEXX?” There was a plan you know!

      *************** SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT **************

  9. That’s funny I was going to ask who actually likes Drive INS? I hate em personally and no one I actually know likes them either. All the Drive INS in my area shut down not because buisness was slow but because buisness litterally stopped no one was going and I mean no one.

    When im working theyre clean i assure u,wen i go,theres popcorn everywhere LMAO! i feel like cleaning it LOL! But oh well…

  11. Whata ya got OldMan,,,,?


  12. Good point Andy. Soft drinks will kill you. And I’m being serious. Not only are the flavored ingredients bad for ya the tap water that gets carbonised is garbage…

    I quit all soft drinks years ago and I’m never sick and don’t have to get fillings in my teeth.

    I just need fresh Oj, clean water and good beer. 8-)

    • I love good beer myself, but I can’t agree with you on the soft drinks. I have to have my Diet Mountain Dew every day. Can’t do coffee, so my Dew is my caffeine. I also love a cold root beer, too. However, I brush 2-3 times a day and floss (almost) daily. I haven’t had a cavity in 6 years since I switched to diet.

      Now I am just waiting for the aspartame problems to start setting in… :D

  13. MOST of the theaters where I live are pretty clean (that I know of), but there have been occasions where I complained to the theater manager. Mostly in the huge Albany multiplexes that have larger numbers of people going to them is when I find a problem. Usually it’s food all over the floor, I mean how friggin’ hard is it to throw away the popcorn you can’t finish eating?? My smaller local theater is ALWAYS cleaned between showings, and I have yet to hear of people getting lice or bed bugs from them.

  14. Wow that’s too bad Andy. Diet soda is the worst.

    I used to have a caffiene jones but I gave it up. A liter of pure Orange Juice in the morning is all I need to get a boost. The trader joes down the stree sell it for 3bucks.

    I just realised, basically I’m addicted to orange juice. Dheet ;-)

    • Did you guys know that repetitious eating of a particular food can lead to allergy’s in some people and that yellow dye #5 is the most common dye to get allergic to? So beware Mountain Dew lovers! I wish the public would petition the FDA to remove Yellow #5 from food and personal hygiene products. By the way a condition called hidden allergy causes a particular food craving. The allergic symptoms like lethargy, sneezing, nasal swelling, and other symptoms appear when the allergen has been REMOVED from your diet. Juices are common with this allergy symptom especially apple and orange, but can happen with any food…

  15. Mmm I love a good Soda I just love soda. Drinking one right now and can’t wait to drink my next one. I’m gonna buy some more this weekend in fact. All I need is a little soda , some grape juice one once in a blue moon sone Wine or whiskey.

  16. Lol,,, buy heath insurance danny.

    Enjoy your dew.


  17. Oh I hate Dew stuff is nasty I’m a dr pepper man.

    No thanks on insurance I don’t need it. Soda isn’t gonna kill me tomorrow but if it did at least I enjoyed my life with soda and steak instead of eating and drinking nasty crap I don’t like because I’m obsessed with the chance that just maybe if I’m luck just maybe I might possibly live an extra year. Living with enjoyment is far more important to me than just living long and unhappy.

  18. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years its ,,,

    Don’t rely on dying young, and quicky!

    Karma will kick your ass on that one!

  19. I don’t rely on either I simply don’t care is all. I’m just living my life and and when it happens is of no concern to me. Death is not something I’m afraid of there is no reason to be.

  20. In Great Britain, our cinemas share many of the same problems, but it very rarely stinks in a multi complex, never have I had that (unless the person the seat next to you stinks), but it does have a bit of a distinct sent in my local ‘mom and pop’ theatre. A place shared by all those people for a long, uninterrupted amount of time can be a hive for germs, it has to be. My Grandad likes a film, but I reckon he hasn’t been to the cinema since he was a teen, if he even went that much then, he’d more rather watch one at home on the widescreen plasma. The worst I’ve had in a cinema is chewing gum in the cup holders, that pisses the hell out of me. Ever since plasma HD screens have become more common, I have seemed to take less delight in the novelty of cinemas, but as im getting use to bigger TV screens, i now get excited again about seeing a film on the silver screen, especially in 3d.

  21. While I generally agree with your sentiments, Dan, there are some gaping holes in those statements.

    Regardless, my local movie theaters (I have at least 3) are all cleaned pretty regularly. I’m sure there are bacteria there without a doubt, considering I doubt they go in and disinfect the place regularly, but none of the venues are trashy by any means.