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Regal Cinemas is currently the largest theatre chain in the world. It was founded in 1989 in Knoxville, TN as a private company and has since gone public and back private again. The majority of the company is owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, whom purchased the company in 1998.

Since becoming the largest theatre chain in the world, and indeed, in the United States, Regal Cinemas has become widely regarded as a disgrace to the entertainment industry. This view is reflected by most people who attend their theatres (more often than not because they have no other options), and a good number of employees who work there. Once establishing monopolistic power over the theatre industry, they have since hiked up prices on tickets, food and drinks to unreasonable levels.

Whereas three years ago you could go to the movies during non-peak hours for $3.25, today you must now shell out $5.25. The odd part is, with this price increase, the quality of the movie-going experience has steadily declined. The disenfranchisement of the Projectionists' Union has allowed the corporate giant to force managers to handle the projectors, as opposed to trained personell. Many employees complain about being underpaid (a $0.15/hr wage increase over the period of two years), badly supervised, undertrained, understaffed and generally disinterested in their jobs because of no opportunities.

Complaints also roll in from customers about the high ticket prices, bad sound, dirty theatres, bad picture, and so forth, despite the price increases. The general consensus is that the increase in price for tickets, or $5 for nachos (that's $3.95 for the chips, then $1 for cheese) hasn't gone to good use. In addition to this, some of their advertising campaigns (such as the Pepsi girl cowpoke) have been so enraging to consumers, that the viewing public has resorted to booing and even throwing things at the screen upon seeing the ad. That ad has since been removed, and replaced with commercials before the movie. My friend, she's got the urge to herbal.

Quite frankly, I think the government should take a week from the Microsoft trial and go after Regal for a bit.

I paid $8.50 for THAT?


A note to softlink-commentators: It seems that this couldn't be avoided. Yes, I know, this post just cries out as a generalization, but these statements were posted as objectively as I could (except for the closing comments). The material was gathered from my own experiences at numerous Regal institutions (at least six or seven in Oregon), testimonials of friends and complaints aired on the news (hiking up ticket prices, monopolistic qualities). There are also numerous "I hate Regal Cinemas" webpages out there. With this kind of dissention aimed at Regal, this node almost certainly describes the rule, not the exception.

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