Movie Theatre Theater: A comedy tale of past Father's Day fisticuffs

TJ Wolf

Movie Theatre Theater: A comedy tale of past Father's Day fisticuffs

Nothing quite like a nice Father's Day outing to the movies with the kids right?

A serene...peaceful...relaxing day of family fun.

And fights.


Oh yes.

Why would people fight on Father's Day?

And why at the movies no less?

This is my take after 7 years of Father's Days as a Movie Theatre Manager...

  • nothing quite like a few Dads "taken to the movies" by the kids
  • usually, a kids movie is chosen as "Dad's choice"
  • many times a hot nearly first official day of summer
  • other times a rainy, humid, and sweaty day
  • dear old Dad shells out $50-$100 for tickets, sodas, popcorn, and candy for the family on his big day

Meanwhile, Dad's ideal Father's Day is more like...

  • family has gone for the day
  • sitting in a recliner or lawn chair
  • beer
  • watching a ball game or television shows of choice
  • sleeping

And Dads tend to get irritable and impatient when the well-intentioned, overly happy, and excited kids drag them out to the movies.
Picture of a movie theatre marquee that says "Protect Your Neck"Joel Muniz/Unsplash

June 18th, 2000

I think it was this day that I decided that my job dealing with the general public as Movie Theatre Manager was not for me anymore.

I had done the job successfully and as a company man of patience and good service since 1994.

But Father's Day Fight Night 2000 was more of a Pay Per View event with me as referee or rodeo clown versus management and customer service.

It started early that day. First showing in fact. In a Disney film.

Fantasia Fight

Nothing like the sight of many Fathers being herded into Disney's Fantasia 2000. They looked like reluctant test subjects headed to the mad scientist's lab aka theater #10. Kids excited with glee and tugging on their Dads for the big day out they planned.

30 minutes later, the radio squawks, "Manager's office, there's a fight in theater 10!"

When I arrived on the scene, I remember one heavyweight Dad leaning over the row of seats on top of another heavyweight Dad in the row behind him.

Both flailing at one another. Punches flying like some bizarre rendition of the original Fantasia Hippo dance, but this time it was a duet.

Popcorn was everywhere like the world's biggest corn stalk was popped with dynamite.

Kid's crying.

People yelling.

Oh great I thought, so we've got a Hippo heavyweight knockout fight in the middle of the sparsely populated auditorium of about 50 people, mostly kids, in a Disney film.

Finally, we get them out of the auditorium. A lot of he said, he said, about talking during the show. I go to call the police. One Dad and his kids slip out the hallway fire exit while I'm on the phone. The other hangs around, not for the police, but for a refund and compensation to come back.

The police officer arrives. Not much to do they say. No way to determine who is at fault or threw the first punch. I refund the tickets for the guy and his family so they would leave.
Photo of a boxer headed to the fight ring.Attentie Attentie/Unsplash

Down In 60 Seconds

Round 2.

This time it's the film Gone In 60 Seconds. This film happened to be in the auditorium across from the manager's kiosk. This allowed me to have a front-row box seat for the next 60 seconds in the ring.


The auditorium door slams open into the stopper on the wall.

This is followed by 2 guys wrestling one another. Another boom as they ram into the hard plastic trash can positioned between the 2 auditorium doors. By the time I get out of my seat and out of the kiosk door, they are slamming each other into the hallway walls.

We finally get them to separate via the only method available to us; asking them to break it up and stop. We do this from a reasonably safe distance. Then we stand between them like a referee.

The argument over kicking of seats and throwing popcorn ensues. Each Dad joined by his respective entourage of kids and wife.

Police time again. However, the dispatcher insists they already sent officers over. So I try to explain this is a whole new fight.

Long story short, by the time the officers arrive 50 minutes have passed. Both guys quietly exited already.

Since it's the same officer who arrived for Round 1 in Fantasia 2000, they look and talk down to me as though this is some kind of "cry wolf" stunt.

I don't even know what to say.
Black and white photo of a slumped boxer in his corner attended to by his manager.The New York Public Library/Unsplash

Boys And Girls And Broom Sticks

Round 3.

I made the mistake of working a double shift that Sunday. A nice long 10 AM to Midnight shift with no breaks.

As we enter the evening hours, I begin to think we are in the clear. Sunday evenings are historically slower. Usually couples on dates for the most part.

As a result, the film Boys And Girls is surprisingly full around 8 pm. As we begin the nightly paperwork and inventory toward a 10 pm box office close and 2 hours of security reports for me to write up, it's the radio again...

"We need a manager at theater 4. There are 2 guys fighting in the theater."

Geez. Here we go again.

On my jog across the lobby, I think to myself, well that's an odd Father's Day-themed movie.

When I open the theater door and proceeded to the aisle, I see a guy swinging a broomstick at another guy. That other guy is now charging at him up the aisle. And they are headed towards me. Now the broomstick guy is backpedaling while swinging violently. I back up out of the auditorium. They both come with me and tumble and tussle into the plastic garbage can with a boom!
Photo of two Kendo martial artists with bamboo Shinai sword.Bernd Viefhues/Unsplash

With my best authoritative, deep, and drill sergeant-like voice I yell, "STOP! DROP THE BROOM. BACK AWAY FROM EACH OTHER!"

To my surprise, it works.

Well, either that or they are both worn out from swinging and charging. Probably ready for the bell to end the round.

I remember this excellent supervisor, Justin, scooping up the broomstick and quickly moving the portable cleaning cabinet of additional cleaning "weapons" away from the area.

So this time it's one Dad with grown kids and a couple on a date.
The dating guy (aka Broomstick Guy) accused Dad of looking at his date.
You can't make this stuff up! (Well you can, but I'm not)
Police again.
Same officer.
"What is it with you?", as he rounds the lobby and I fill him in.
I shrug.
This time a police report as the broomstick was considered assault.
Another successful Father's Day at the movies.

So You Say You Want A Revolution?

Extra Rounds.

The following Sunday I dared to think "well, can't be any worse than last week."

The film The Patriot came out that Friday and New Jersey was having a record heatwave for June (if I recall correctly).
Painting of two colonial men having a "gentlemen's boxing fight".Birmingham Museums Trust/Unsplash

So for good measure, a couple of guys in The Patriot decided to defend their honor with ye olde fisticuffs in the grand hall known as theater #5.

I should be grateful it wasn't black powder pistols at the credits.

Police again.

The same officer again.

Yeah, yeah. I know. What is it with me? <sigh>

More Movie Theatre Theater to come! Follow Me to see my future articles.

About Me

I worked for a Movie Theatre (yes, it's spelled Theatre when it's the movies) chain in New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. Now I write articles about some of the characters and crazy situations I encountered while working at the theatre. Usually, when I tell these stories, my friends and colleagues laugh. They also think I make up the stories or I exaggerate for comedy purposes. I can assure you that I don't. Anyone who has worked a job with the general public in large numbers knows that life is really this absurd. So if you need a laugh or perhaps a sense of shock, proceed reading and enjoy the show!

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My primary mission is to spread awareness about the disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and many of its comorbidities. Given most physical activities cause me pain nowadays, I've taken on writing as a new hobby, form of therapy, and method to interact with others. You will find I also experiment with articles related to business and careers.

Atlanta, GA

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