I dropped off my son and his girlfriend, both 17-year-old high school seniors, at the AMC Esquire movie theatre on Clayton Road about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, October 16, 2016.
When they tried to purchase tickets to see the 5 p.m. showing of Kevin Hart's movie "What Now?", they were asked for ID and then told that they needed to be 18 to see any movie starting at or after 5 p.m.
My son then purchased tickets for "The Girl on a Train" (start time 4:45 p.m.), however, this was not by choice. This couple's choices had been unfairly restricted by using all too familiar tactic. After my son and his girlfriend left the movie, they went to St. Louis Bread Company where I picked them up. When I inquired about the movie, they told me about the situation.
Those familiar with this site understand how serious I am about protecting my rights; so you can imagine how upset I was when I discovered that my son had been mistreated, especially while spending his money. I felt as if the clock had been set back and my son was forced into a symbolic back of the bus. My 17-year-old son did not have the legal savvy to challenge the person behind the ticket booth, but that will soon be corrected.
I was also upset because movies about and featuring black people are increasing, but situations such as this dilute the box office numbers for those movies. If anyone knows Kevin Hart, please let him know so his team can investigate if there's an effort to divert box office ticket sales to other movies. Years ago movie-goers who asked to purchase tickets to black movies were sold tickets to white movies. They were allowed to use those tickets to see the movie of their choice, but the ticket sales were credited to other movies. In fact, my last post was about another movie featuring black people, "Birth of a Nation".
I visited several pages on AMC's website including "ratings information", but did not find a policy listed that customers have to be 18 or older after 5. Here's what I found:
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older)"
"For R-Rated Films: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older) and 25 years and under must show ID. And children under the age of 6 are not allowed after 6:00pm."
I will be contacting AMC for their response, but I would like to know if anyone else has had this experienced. Please contact us if you have. We are also asking our white readers to report if they are being asked for IDs when they visit AMC theatres or if white teens have been told 18 or older after 5 p.m. If we discover that this is a systemic form of discrimination, we will organize an information picket outside the theatre on the public right of way.
I contacted AMC using their website contact page early yesterday morning, Monday, October 17th. By 2 p.m. today, Tuesday, October 18th, I had not received a reply, so I phoned the number listed on the AMC Theatre website 888-440-4262. When I inquired about the 18 after 5 pm policy, the person I spoke with gave conflicting and evasive answers and suggested that I contact the specific theatre location and provided me the phone number (314-781-9017) to the Esquire located at 6706 Clayton Road, Saint Louis, MO 63117.
I spoke with the Esquire's manager who directed me to the Esquire's Web Page. When you scroll down near the bottom of that page, there is a boxed off section "Other Policies". The last link in that section is "Parental Escort Policy (Under 18 after 5)" which states:
"Minors Under 18 Must Be Accompanied by a Guardian Over 21 After 5 p.m. This policy is for the safety and comfort of all guests. Picture ID is required for films starting at 5 p.m. or later."
However, the Esquire is the only theatre in the St. Louis area that has this policy. Every other theatre instead of having a "Parental Escort Policy" has an "Age Policy for R-Rated Films" which states:
"Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older). Guests 25 years and under must show ID. We restrict children younger than 6 from attending R-Rated films after 6pm to improve the experience for everyone. To bring your children younger than 6 to R-Rated films, please visit us before 6pm."
For whatever reason, AMC or the managment at the Esquire believes it's okay to deny patrons of the Esquire the same access privileges that are enjoyed at every other St. Louis area theatre. The manager that I spoke with mentioned how their policy was similar to the Galleria Mall's curfew, but that policy only applies to minors 16 and under not 17.
I purchase AMC movie passes from Sam's Club and insert in greeting card as gifts, but I will end that practice. The next time my son wants to go to a movie theatre, he'll go to one of the St. Louis Cinema locations or 24:1 Cinema. If AMC doesn't believe my son deserves the same access to the theatre closest to our home, they don't deserve our money. I hope those of you reading this feel the same way. If so let AMC know.