If you’re a fan of movies, you may have just found yourself a way to get paid to go and see them by reading this. And it’s not by being a film critic (although, you’re more than welcome to provide a review on your own time). Every now and then you’ll come across a mystery shopping assignment that allows you to go to a movie theater and assess the staff, environment, and equipment efficiency.

It won’t be all fun and games though, you’ll have to go down a checklist of things to look into and take detailed notes to use later on when you file a report. Most of your work will come either before the film starts, right when it does or after it’s over. You’ll be looking for the conditions of the facilities and the behavior of the staff throughout various parts of the experience.

Luckily, you should still be able to enjoy the movie after you do most of the legwork. Here’s a list of things to look out for if you’ve gotten your hands on a movie theater mystery shopping assignment:


How convenient was parking? Do you feel safe at the theater? How do the facilities look from the outside? The client will most likely want to know if the appearance of their theater is welcoming or not because that could drive away potential customers.


What was the process like when you bought your tickets? Were show times displayed appropriately? If you were attending a matinee or a discounted time, were you made aware? This isn’t an opportunity to complain about how much movie tickets cost, but to focus on the ticket buying interaction.


When you buy your concessions, make sure that you’re keeping track of the condition of the food and beverages. Was the popcorn stale? Did the cups look clean? Did the staff have everything you needed or were a large number of items out of stock? You can embrace your inner food critic here if you order something that has to prepared, but keep in mind that a lot of the food in movie theaters is made for convenience.


One of the most important things for you to take note of as a mystery shopper is the staff. A warm and welcoming staff could make the difference between a customer claiming a movie theater as their standard “go-to” and a one-time visit that they’ll tell their friends and family to never go to. Depending on the time of day you’re visiting the movie theater, you should also watch to see how the staff handles either a large crowd or one that’s much smaller during the slower periods of the day.


How clean was the theater? If you’re walking through litter before a movie you should be sure to write that in your report. Movie theater employees are supposed to clean each individual theater after every showing so that customers don’t have to worry about their feet sticking to the floor. If the theater is remarkably clean, feel free to let them know.

Level of comfort

A consistent complaint made about movie theaters is that they’re always too cold. There are a few theories floating around as to why — to make up for all of the warm bodies in a closed space, to keep people awake, but no one really knows. If you feel that the theater you were in was so cold that you couldn’t enjoy the movie, or had to bring a blanket in mid-July, you may want to bring that to the attention of the client.