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View Full Version : Bad movie - get a refund?


Jet Jaguar
08-30-2001, 08:57 AM
I was wondering how many people demand refunds for movies they don't like. I know some do, but I never understood that. Personally, I don't ask for refunds unless there was a technical problem with the showing. I figure it's a gamble going in. If I hear bad things about a movie and I see it anyway, then shame on me.

TheThill
08-30-2001, 09:00 AM
I doubt you'd be very successful anywhere. With all the Hollywood garbage out there, they'd be refunding money right and left.

pezpunk
08-30-2001, 09:15 AM
Actually I had heard awhile back that some theaters were prefectly willing to provide refunds for movies if you didn't like them. I have yet to ask for one for the same reason Jet Jaguar mentioned.

MovieMogul
08-30-2001, 12:24 PM
pezpunk says: Actually I had heard awhile back that some theaters were prefectly willing to provide refunds for movies if you didn't like them.
As a former theater manager, I can attest this is not true--we were never "perfectly willing", but we did it anyway to get a customer off our backs. However, I think you'll find they very rarely are actual money-back refunds (especially after the movie's over), but more often free passes (although sometimes a free popcorn would be enough), which guarantees that the customer comes back. Given the wealth of information available about a movie, from movie reviews to the MPAA's own site, a certain amount of responsibility needs to be assumed by the patron to inform themselves about critics or directors they trust, storylines or genres they prefer, and an understanding that any subjective entertainment experience involves some risk.

Legomancer
08-30-2001, 12:39 PM
At the risk of inciting wrath, I'm really not sure it should be very easy to do this, based on the reasons stated by ArchiveGuy. There just isn't much of an excuse. In every "WORST.MOVIE.EVER." thread I've ever read, which has been a lot (or similar threads) the main offenders were movies that were absolutely SAVAGED by the press and the reviewers. Take Battlefield Earth, for example. There was simply no reason to think this was a good movie. It was being universally panned, and not in a mild, noncommittal way. You can maybe argue a case that it was even worse than you expected, but you could not possibly have thought it would be good, not if you read anything at all about it.

I see people often saying how they don't read critics and don't trust them and so forth, but again, the critics are almost always on the money with bad movies. If they say something is bad, it almost always is.

Also, people seem to be in a mad rush to see everything these days. Many of these bad movies, regardless of reviews, got horrible word-of-mouth after they premiered. A movie that opens to $100 million and then immediately drops to $10 million might not be very good. If you feel you must see everything before anyone else and before it's reviewed or commented on, you have to assume some risk for seeing bad things. Waiting a week or two will usually reveal many of the over-hyped crapfests.

So there you go, cast me in the Pit, but I think that if you don't read reviews or listen to word of mouth or wait to see what the general reaction to a movie is, you forfeit the right to get your money back.

Kamandi
08-30-2001, 02:34 PM
I've occasionally left a movie 20-30 minutes in and asked for a refund. Got it most of the time. But I wouldn't request a refund if the film was more than, say, half over. If you haven't figured out that a movie's crap by then, you don't deserve your cash back.

As Legomancer said, caveat emptor.

warmgun
08-30-2001, 02:58 PM
I disagree with you, Legomancer (but I'll skip the wrath),
First of all I frequently read two opposing reviews of a movie. Second, trailers today are notorious for making you believe a movie is about one thing then you find it's about something else.
[pet peeve] Why not make the trailer like the movie or make the movie you are going to advertise?![/end peeve]
To the OP, if a movie is BAD or misrepresented (by the first half) I ask for my money back. And despite what ArchiveGuy says, managers are always friendly and (apparently) happy to refund my money.

rjung
08-30-2001, 03:38 PM
I learned to avoid bad movies once I discovered rottentomatoes.com -- awesome!

warmgun
08-30-2001, 03:52 PM
How do you know they are bad if you don't see them?

Legomancer
08-30-2001, 06:27 PM
Originally posted by warmgun
How do you know they are bad if you don't see them?

Easy, but be prepared to disagree. I am of the opinion that most movies suck. Hollywood has lost the benefit of the doubt with me. I do not have to prove their movies suck, they have to prove that their movies are worth seeing. To that end, I first look at the trailers and the general idea of the movie. That eliminates most of them right away.

Second, go to Rotten Tomatoes, or simply check several reviewers. If the majority of them are saying something is crap, maybe it is. If the ones giving positive reviews are saying "only sucks half as much as I thought" take that with a grain of salt. As I said in the thread about bad movies you saw in the theater, most of the ones listed could have been avoided if people had simply looked at the reviews. Nearly every movie I've ever seen people bitch about was also torn to shreds by reviewers.

Third, don't go see it right away. Wait and see what happens after it's been out a week or so. Word of mouth is very important. Did it have a staggering opening and then immediately drop off sharply? It's probably an overhyped piece of crap. Most studios are banking on this hit-and-run method where they make you think you should see this immediately so you don't listen to critics or word of mouth and find out how bad it is. Don't do it. There's no reason you can't go see it later if it turns out to be good. I didn't see Memento when it opened, I waited until I saw it was getting good reviews and good word of mouth. Then I saw it, and I didn't have a million people in the theater with me also.

You're free to disagree with me - most people do - but I just don't see saying "I don't want to know anything about this movie or read the opinions of others on it or wait to see how it does, I must see it immediately and then gripe that it wasn't good."

warmgun
08-30-2001, 08:44 PM
Well, I won't disagree as much as you might think. You have some very valid points.
However, I try to avoid too much of the trailers because, as I said earlier, they make you expect one thing then you are disapointed when it's something else.
Additionally, I frequently disagree with critics. So they are not a good source for me. I'm sure a lot of this is dictated by what one expects from movies. You might like art films and I might like escapism. Critics would favor your choices of 'good' movies.
The one thing that is the hardest to escape from is hype. I'll bet if there were no hype to big movies, we would like them better because they would have less to live up to. I believe this is an inescapable part of the human makeup and unfortunately Hollywood.

Regarding point two, I would like to see all the major critics be made to make a living off of movies that they made or produced alone. If their sole sourse of income was box-office sucsess, they would be churning out the same crap they rail against. Think about that!

warmgun
08-30-2001, 08:48 PM
Grrr....'source' and ' succ...oh, nevermind...

Preview, preview, preview....

Jet Jaguar
08-31-2001, 08:16 AM
Originally posted by warmgun
Second, trailers today are notorious for making you believe a movie is about one thing then you find it's about something else.
[pet peeve] Why not make the trailer like the movie or make the movie you are going to advertise?![/end peeve]


I once read a column by a film critic (I believe it was Roger Ebert) addressing this phenomena. He said the studios make trailers for the film they wished the director made, not what he actually made.

Legomancer
08-31-2001, 08:19 AM
I keep seeing people say they disagree with critics, but look at rotten tomatoes. If you've got 50 critics, and 40 of them say a movie is bad, do you really think, "Well, none of those 40 have my taste in movies." Also, that's where part 3 comes in. Wait for word of mouth and to see how the movie performs. If you don't trust professional critics, trust people you know who have seen it. Trust the fact that the theater is empty after the opening weekend because enough people figured out it sucked.

All I'm saying is, if I ate every piece of food I saw, regardless of how it might taste or agree with me, I wouldn't complain when I got a stomach ache. I would, however, probably still make very bad analogies.

Podkayne
08-31-2001, 09:14 AM
When you buy a ticket, are you promised a good time? I don't think so. You're promised the opportunity to see a movie. There's no reasonable way for the theater owner to know your taste in movies and how well any given movie will satisfy you. The theater owner does not view each film and decide which ones are good, and refuse to show movies which are bad. I don't see how you can hold the theater owner responsible for whether or not you like the movie.

If you throw a fit, they might give you a refund, sure. "The customer is always right" is a wise business practice. It is not, however, a universal truism.

Do trailers use somewhat deceptive techniques to make the movie look appealing to as broad an audience as possible? Say it ain't so!

Hint: buying a particular brand of beer will not actually make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Jeannie
08-31-2001, 02:26 PM
I always read Ebert's reviews of movies before I go see them. Some people don't like Ebert or don't like critics in general. I happen to agree with Ebert most of the time. I always read the whole review so that I know what I'm getting into. For example, he gave Tomb Raider three stars. He said in his review that it was basically dumb fun with lots of action. So I saw it and I liked it. I was not expecting high art. I wanted a silly action film, I got it, I was happy. Now, I also read his review (and a few other reviews) of Pearl Harbor. I went to see it anyway. Would it have been nice to get my money back? Sure, and I would have liked those three hours of my life back as well. But I would never expect someone to give me back my money, and I would never ask. I chose to see the movie. I knew what I was getting into. I can live with it.

Just FYI: My brother-in-law used to be a manager at a movie theatre. They do not give refunds after the first 15 minutes of a movie (which basically will get you through the previews). However, they had several (and by "several" I mean "everyone who went to see it") people complain about the badness of Freddy Got Fingered. They finally just started handing out free passes to people who asked, because it was too much hassle to explain to them nicely that it was not the theatre's fault that they were too stupid to realize that a movie like that would be bad.

(His theatre also has a policy against giving refunds for movies that are showing popular trailers. So if someone went to see Pearl Harbor just to see the LOTR trailer, they would not be getting back their money).

mouthbreather
08-31-2001, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by ArchiveGuy
As a former theater manager...[/B]

Dammit, there goes another one of my claims to fame. I'm not the SD's only former theater manager.

Where and when, ArchiveGuy?

Guinastasia
08-31-2001, 08:21 PM
And, if you do so, please be prepared to see your story on Customerssuck.com

:D

warmgun
09-01-2001, 02:03 AM
Legomancer, are you kidding me? You check out 50 critics for every movie you consider? Frankly I find it hard to believe anyone would go to half those lengths. And even if most critics do agree with your tastes, it ain't gonna happen everytime. And there have been plenty of times when friends and critics just loooooove a movie so I go all jicked up only to find it yet another lame Hollywood film. Naw, I think I'll keep thinking for myself.
Podkayne, No I don't feel I'm promised a good movie. You roll the dice, you take ya chances. Like a lot of people, I've sat through hundreds (?) of clunkers and walked out with the 'oh well' attitude. But if a movie is especially bad and I have better things to do I will politely ask for a refund. If they don't want to give one that's fine. I've never thrown a fit nor never will. I just don't see the harm in asking. My experience is that managers are always polite and more than willing to give it. Archiveguy is speaking for himself - not all managers.

OpalCat
09-01-2001, 02:40 AM
Originally posted by warmgun
Legomancer, are you kidding me? You check out 50 critics for every movie you consider?

Um. Go to rottentomatoes.com and you'll see what he means. You see about a sentence from each critic (linked to the full critique) with either a nice ripe red tomato (they liked it) or a big splatted green one (they didn't like it)... it's pretty easy to tell within about half a second what the proportion is of critic who liked/didn't like a given film is.

OpalCat
09-01-2001, 02:42 AM
Here, I'll help you with a direct link. Here is the rottentomatoes.com page for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/movie-1109455/

nightshadea
09-01-2001, 02:51 AM
you can get a refund for any reason up until a half hour after the movie starts

after that it has to be a mechanical failure and they give out these movir buck gift certificates or free passes

Legomancer
09-01-2001, 02:58 AM
Originally posted by warmgun
Legomancer, are you kidding me? You check out 50 critics for every movie you consider? Frankly I find it hard to believe anyone would go to half those lengths. And even if most critics do agree with your tastes, it ain't gonna happen everytime. And there have been plenty of times when friends and critics just loooooove a movie so I go all jicked up only to find it yet another lame Hollywood film. Naw, I think I'll keep thinking for myself.

Let's try once more. I am not talking about good movies, I'm talking about bad movies. I will freely admit that critics will often praise crap. But when you go to rotten tomatoes and you see that only 15% of the critics there had anything good to say abotu a movie, you can probably assume the movie is bad. We're talking about bad films. And if you look at most of the films people bring up when discussing bad films, you will find that most of them got awful, awful reviews.

As for "thinking for myself," I have never stuck myfinger in an electrical socket - I trust the advice of those who have been there and know better.

warmgun
09-01-2001, 03:16 AM
Thanks for the link, OpalCat - bookmarked it. Still, I think my point stands. The very name - Rotten Tomatoes - conjures up the I-hope-they're-bad-so-we-can-throw-spoiled-fruit-at-them attitude. I don't really even agree with the idea of 'critics'. I much prefer a review. Ironically (because I have current thread on what is 'good' art), I don't go to movies for arts sake. I don't disagree with the concept, it's just that I'm more of a it-matches-my-couch guy when it comes to movie art. I want escapism. A mini-vacation. A place where things happen that could never happen in real life. Now this usually means 'The Usual Suspects' but can mean some Jet Li thing that 'critics' hate. I think critics fall into the 'Those that can - do. Those that can't - criticize' catagory. See the last part of my 2nd post in this thread.

warmgun
09-01-2001, 03:28 AM
Legomancer, you slipped in under my last post. Point taken about bad movies. However (see my previous post), sometimes I like bad movies.

When it comes to life and death matters I, too, consult the experts. But you are talking about scientific, repeatable, emperical experiences. If the matters are much more mundane, I'll trust myself. Art is subjective. Besides, I don't believe movie critics "have been there and know better".

Legomancer
09-01-2001, 10:12 AM
Okay, then, fine, you think critics are worthless. That's okay. So then what about waiting for word of mouth? What about not seeing it on opening weekend?

I don't care what movies anyone likes, I'm not trying to convince people to like movies they don't or not like movies they do. All I am saying is that this is a thread about wanting your money back for a bad movie and I am making the case that for movies, any consumer has, at his or her fingertips, many resources they can use to try to avoid bad movies. Whether or not you use these resources is certainly up to you, but if you choose not to, and instead say, "I won't listen to any other views on this movie, because I will think for myself, and I won't believe the trailer, because it may not be right, and I will go see the movie the second it comes out, before anyone is expressing any opinions at all on it," then I have far less sympathy for you when you see a bad movie.

On the other hand, I think it's fair to say that I agree with the person who said that all the theater is promising you is acess to see a movie in a reasonable environment, free of mechanical failures. If a theater also gives refunds or passes for bad movies, that's certainly lagniappe and admirable, but I think it's above and beyond their call of duty. Do people bring books or CDs they don't like back to where they purchased them for a refund? Does any place do that?

delphica
09-01-2001, 01:12 PM
This is a slight hijack (with apologies to the OP), but I have a question for the theater managers. Do you ever have parents who ask for their money back because they felt misled by a movie's rating? I don't have children, but I have sometimes been in a PG-13 movie and thought "Wow, while this might not technically been an R movie, I would feel uncomfortable bringing children to see this."

If this ever happens, are you more liberal with your refund policy? Provided, of course, that the parent is marching his/her children out halfway through the film, and not waiting until it is over to complain to you.

MsWhich
09-01-2001, 02:44 PM
Originally posted by Legomancer
Do people bring books or CDs they don't like back to where they purchased them for a refund? Does any place do that?


Sure they do. I've shopped at more than a few bookstores and music stores that have fairly liberal return policies. However, we're talking apples and oranges here. If you take back a CD you didn't like, you are returning the product. You no longer have use of the product. This is not possible with a movie that you have seen, because what you've paid for is the opportunity to see the movie. The theater provided that. I think it's a little ridiculous to ask for your money back after you have seen the movie.

Yes, if the movie sucks so bad that you leave within the first half hour or so, you might sort of be within your rights to ask for a refund, as you haven't got what you paid for (a full viewing of the film). But still, think of it as going to a restaurant. If you order something that you have never tried before, and happen not to like it, are you within your rights to simply not pay for it because you didn't care for it? No. Now, if something is hideously wrong with the food -- it's spoiled, or the steak is done improperly, or whatever -- that's different. But to carry the analogy over to movie theaters, that would be like the film breaking, or the projector breaking down. Obviously in cases of mechanical failure, you have every right to get your money back.

To address your other point, Legomancer: I am the type of person who hates to find out anything about a movie before I go to see it. I don't read reviews beforehand, I try to avoid other people who talk about it, and I do my best not to see trailers. This is because I hate having plot surprises ruined for me. However, I am also not the type of person to demand my money back when I've seen a movie that I think sucks. Again, this is because I got what I paid for -- the opportunity to see the movie. If I happen not to like the movie, that's my tough luck. The theaters aren't in the business of showing *good* movies, they're in the business of showing movies.

warmgun
09-05-2001, 02:10 AM
My final thoughts:
Legomancer, MsWhatsit kind of answered the book/CD part. And I also think it's an apples/ oranges thing, but in a different way. They get their product back to re-sale. I never go to a movie on opening weekend so there are always empty seats in the theater when I walk out. The movie is playing one way or another.
And I don't buy the restaurant comparison either. More apples and oranges. Menues just list the options available. I have never thought of asking for a refund on my bad choice of picking food. On the other hand, I can be setting in the privacy of my own home, watching TV and a trailer will come screaming out of the screen - 'This is the best movie -EVER!!! (yes, I realise restaurants advertise, too, but not as aggressively). Theater owners have access to trades that should help them pick the best movie for their demographics.
Look, I feel for theater owners, but no one is making them be in a biz where they take shit for Hollywood.
And, MsWhatsit, for the record, again. I have NEVER "demand"ed my money back. The movie sucked, I was leaving anyway so I ask. Very low key. And as a free citizen I do believe I am "within my rights". If they say no - no biggie, that's their right.
Further,as I've said, it only happened a few times and I always patronize theaters when they do this courtesy. Hell, I might even buy an x-tra bag of popcorn.
By the way, you do realise that that's where their money comes from, don't you?

Zebra
09-05-2001, 08:50 AM
Originally posted by mouthbreather
Originally posted by ArchiveGuy
As a former theater manager...

Dammit, there goes another one of my claims to fame. I'm not the SD's only former theater manager.

Where and when, ArchiveGuy? [/B]

I'm a former theatre manager as well. I used to do in NYC about 5 years ago. A very tough crowd to deal with let me tell you.

MovieMogul
09-05-2001, 03:28 PM
warmgun says: And despite what ArchiveGuy says, managers are always friendly and (apparently) happy to refund my money.andMy experience is that managers are always polite and more than willing to give it. Archiveguy is speaking for himself - not all managers.
Point 1: I never ever said managers weren't friendly. Reread my post. Point 2: Uh, what did you think I did, roll my eyes and raise a hissy in front of the customer? Of course I'm going to appear pleased as punch to make the patron feel better, but I doubt you'll find any manager who actually would prefer opening the tills, doing the refund paperwork, and making sure it registered in the evening balance. Do theater managers give refunds regularly for bad movies? Sure, but they'd rather not. It's strictly "customer service."

Mouthbreather: I was a manager in San Francisco and also opened a megaplex in Santa Clara (the largest in No.CA at the time). Left 3 1/2 years ago but continued to do floor ops for Film Festivals for a while. Fun job in a way, but quitting saved my life, health, and marriage I'm convinced. Much happier now (and I never saw fewer movies in my adult life than when I managed a theater, so there you go...)

Zebra
09-05-2001, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by delphica
This is a slight hijack (with apologies to the OP), but I have a question for the theater managers. Do you ever have parents who ask for their money back because they felt misled by a movie's rating? I don't have children, but I have sometimes been in a PG-13 movie and thought "Wow, while this might not technically been an R movie, I would feel uncomfortable bringing children to see this."

If this ever happens, are you more liberal with your refund policy? Provided, of course, that the parent is marching his/her children out halfway through the film, and not waiting until it is over to complain to you.

In my expierence (14 years) this hardly ever happened. Mostly parents that are that concerned ask before hand and I tell them bluntly what's in the film. "A couple of scenes of bare brests and lots of uses of the f word" for example.

If they leave befor the end of the film I would give passes. Refunds for not liking the film after watching the whole thing were out of the question. Belive it or not some people would abuse this policy and try to see all their movies for free.