Beer & Movies

MoviebeerThe Oregon Liquor Control Commission is considering creating a firm policy on the presence of beer and wine at the movies. Presently, they've been handling things on a case-by-case basis, but a request from theater chain Regal Cinemas has got them going back to square one and developing a rule.

The Oregonian has the story: Kids, beer, movies are stick mix for OLCC.

The range of options:

* They could do away with alcohol in theatres altogether.
* They could require that there be no minors be present if alcohol is served - a 21-and-over theatre policy.
* They could allow minors to be present if accompanied by a parent.
* They could allow minors with parents during certain hours. (The "McMenamin's option" - their house policy is minors with parents until 6 p.m.)
* They could throw caution to the wind and allow alcohol and minors into theatres (presumably not selling directly to minors.)

Which option makes sense to you? Or, present another option of your own. Discuss.

Incidentally, OLCC will have a public meeting in Milwaukie on June 24 at 10 a.m. on this issue. Call 503-872-5004 for details.

Comments

  • Jammer (unverified)
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    One more option: Oregon could "do away" with OLCC.

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    Jammer... Yeah, we could - but somebody still has to set the rules on when minors can be in a theatre when beer is being served.

  • J. Smalls (unverified)
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    I think a policy based on what the primary source of revenue is would be best. If you are a movie theatre, than be a movie theatre. If you are a pub and want to show movies, than show movies (that's right folks, double standards exist and are okay, life ain't always fair). Besides, just imagine how much Regal would charge for a beer!

  • Kent (unverified)
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    The McMenamin's brewpub theaters are among my favorite places in Portland. Be a shame to see them get regulated out of business.

    Last week I had a beer at a pizza place while having dinner with my kids and my wife had a glass of wine. Next are they going to tell me I can't have beer or wine with dinner where kids are present?

    Explain to me the difference between serving alcohol in a restaurant where kids are present and at a theater where they are present.

    Come to think of it, i've had beer and wine served to me at various live theater functions I have attended over the years in Seattle, Portland, and Anchorage. Been a while since I've attended an event in Portland, but you can definitely get beer or wine served at live events at the Anchorage performing arts complex.

    Then there's Safeco Park, the Rose Garden, and Autzen Stadium. I've definitely bought beer at those places. Oh yes...there's beer at my local Safeway too and I've even seen babies riding around in shopping carts there.

    This sort of thing is easy enough to regulate. Send in the occasional undercover agents to buy beer without IDs and bust any theater that is selling drinks to minors. Thats' the way it's done everywhere else.

    Sheesh.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    J. Smalls....

    Movie theaters make about 90% of their profit from concession sales and not more than 10% from the box office. That's because almost all the box office revenue goes back to the studios. Basically they are in the business of selling popcorn, candy, and drinks.

    Care to revise your position? Or if Theaters are primarily in the business of selling concessions, are you willing to let them sell the concessions that their customer's want

  • Jammer (unverified)
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    Kari: but [The Government] still has to set the rules on when minors can be in a theatre when beer is being served.

    Why?

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    Jammer... I agree with you. It's entirely stupid that we don't allow young people to drink until they're out of their parents' home. If we allowed drinking at an age when parental supervision was customary and normal, we'd see less binge drinking in colleges.

    That said, politics is the art of the possible. And when it comes to state policy, it's the art of working within federal law.

    The question today is whether movie theatres, being dark, are fundamentally different than restaurants, the symphony, football games, etc. Kent's point is exactly the one at issue.

    For that matter, can someone explain to me why they can serve beer anywhere at a football game (where all ages mingle), but the Crystal Ballroom has to have an over-21 section (aka beer garden), and why Regal Cinemas is blocked right now at all?

  • iggi (unverified)
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    getting rid of beer in theaters!? crap, i'll have to go back to smuggling in a flask of cheap whiskey.

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    I think movie theaters should be the one place we do let kids drink... they'd be so much quieter, y'know, once they pass out. lol.

    Seriously, though - I honestly think the line should stay drawn between theater pubs and ciniplexes (as J. Smalls said, based on the primary source of revenue) - there's just no way to regulate in a dark theater. My reasoning is all from a fiscal standpoint, really ... the liability and the cost to regulate would translate into even higher concessions prices making it even more difficult for families to enjoy movies in the theater.

    Even as someone who enjoys her beer and enjoys her movies - often together - I just don't see the need for the major ciniplexes to offer alcohol.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    Young people "don't expect to see beer sold at Regal Cinemas, and to the extent they see it, it sort of sanitizes the consumption," says Mike Roach, co-owner of Paloma Clothing in Southwest Portland and dad to a 14-year-old girl.

    Probably depends on where you’re from. I’m sure there are states where you can purchase beer and wine in a movie theatre (states that have no OLCC). In Paris you can get beer and wine in a McDonalds, but I think parents there are more concerned with their children’s education and healthcare than non-issues.

    "It makes it look a lot more harmless than it is. 'Oh, OK, candy and beer together, oh sure!' " he says. "It really rubs me the wrong way."

    You mean like a supermarket? You can even purchase hard alcohol in supermarkets in California. Again…it’s a non-issue.

    "I don't think kids plus alcohol and darkness is a good idea," Kaiser says.”

    Oh brother. Think of taking this paranoia a little farther: a lot of things can happen in the darkness, but to worry about all of them takes the parent out of parenting. I think the regulate every scenario involving alcohol serves to do one thing: justify your job at the OLCC.

    "We feel it is necessary to change the standard and prohibit minors and alcohol from being together in a darkened theater," stated a staff report dated April 12.”

    Anyone else feel a little foolish about living in a state that feels like as soon as the lights go out, our kids are irresponsible cretins and we as parents lose our minds?

    I say have a separate counter for beer and wine and ID those that wish to purchase it. Anyone that will let their kids drink because it’s dark in the theatre are probably already smuggling in alcohol for that purpose. The theatres can handle the case by case problems that crop up, which will be next to non-existent. I don’t think that many people will puchase overpriced beer to warrant a discussion about it. It will be exactly like it is at the Rose Garden during a blazer game (just a little darker).

  • keyfur (unverified)
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    living near the bagdad, i am also a huge fan of the beer-theater idea. hell, it's the best thing since sliced bread. and i really like the way the mcmenamin's folks do it. when i am enjoying a couple of pitchers and a great movie i do not really want kids around. even if i were at a real movie theater enjoying some brew i would not want the kids around. the atmosphere at the bagdad (or laurelhurst or kennedy school) is not the same as in a real theater. i think kids in there would spoil the special situation those theaters have created.

    and not to sound like a wet blanket, but i think the potential for kids getting alcohol is greatly increased in the theater situation. in other situations folks have mentioned (safeway, safeco, autzen, pizza places) there is somewhat constant supervision. if some kid in the stands at safeco is drinking beer, one of the ushers will stop the kid. if some kid is drinking beer in a dark theater an usher might not see them.

    plus it puts the major movie theaters in a difficult staffing situation. many of the people who work at the movies are kids. (at least that is what i remember of the few trips i have made there since moving to the land of beer-movies.) can people under 21 sell alcohol in oregon? if not then the theaters have to hire adult (more expensive) workers and therefore raise prices even more. if kids can sell alcohol then there will be tremendous pressure to sell to their buddies.

    as long as i can still get a pitcher of terminator at the bagdad i will be happy with the olcc decision. however if places like the bagdad or laurelhurst have to close (or change their ways) i'll be happy to riot along with all of you other fine beer loving folks.

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    can people under 21 sell alcohol in oregon? if not then the theaters have to hire adult (more expensive) workers and therefore raise prices even more. if kids can sell alcohol then there will be tremendous pressure to sell to their buddies.

    You have to be 18 in Oregon to get an OLCC server's license.

    I was going to make a similar argument until I realized that there are grown-ups out there who are underemployed who'd take the jobs at their existing wages.

    And then there'd be the problem of putting the existing workers out of work. Yes, they're teens, and ideally they're not supporting families, but they do contribute to the economy and it's hard enough for teens to get jobs these days with the various labor regulations (which I agree with, don't get me wrong) without eliminating one of the old stand-bys.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    I don't know how they do it in Oregon anymore, but in Alaska that equivalent stage agency is constantly sending undercover youth agents around to bars and convenience stores to see if they can buy liquor. Any convenience store or bar that is found selling liquor to a minor is seriously busted. The fines are extraordinarily high and the person doing the selling usually loses their job. You can believe that clerks are serious about carding.

    And unlike Oregon, there are no state run liquor stores in Alaska. Most liquor is sold at convenience stores that are divided between the food and liquor. The stores have a wall down the middle with all the alcohol on one side and all the chips, magazines, and candy on the other side. Only those over 21 can go into the liquor side. In the middle is the clerk with a single register that can ring up sales from either side of the counter.

    Oh, and of course Safeway, Fred Meyer, and Costco all have liquor as well, just in a separate section with separate register. There's nothing quite like getting those big bottles of Bailey's at Costco. The price even beats the duty free shops at the Canadian border.

    This business of state-run liquor stores in Oregon and Washington has always mystified me.

    Anyway, back to the main point of the thread. All the OLCC has to do is impose some fairly rigid restrictions on theaters and I suspect they'll lose their interest Require them to hire ushers to patrol the theaters like in the old days, require them to hire staff over 21, require them to put in a separate seating area in the lobby for drinking etc etc.

    In any event, come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd really like to go to a crowded first run movie and have some drunk spill beer on me as he climbs through the isle for his 4th beer run of the show. Obviously they can't really put tops on the beers as you don't drink beer with a straw. So you'd have drunks wandering around the dark isles with open pints in paper cups tripping on your feet. Fun.

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    After all this, I think I'm inclined to support the "McMenamin's Option". If you want to serve beer in a theatre, the whole facility must be 21-and-over after 6 p.m. Before 6 p.m., minors can be in there, if accompanied by a parent.

    G'bye Regal Cinemas.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    "This business of state-run liquor stores in Oregon and Washington has always mystified me."

    That makes two of us. I can't understand why people in this state are so willing to accept being treated like children. Does it do anything to curb the harmful behaviors that alcoholics exhibit? I seriously doubt it; I would guess it actually increases binge drinking in colleges and also increases drinking problems later in life. Up until recently, you couldn't purchase hard alcohol on Sundays (with the exception of a bar). Why? I don't have a clue.

    We have learned to live with this erroneous bureaucracy to the point where they have rooted themselves into every aspect of our lives where alcohol is concerned, and to most people, they find this normal. I look to other states with less restriction and ask myself, "Why are we so incapable of handling fewer restrictions on our purchase of alcohol?”

    There is, of course, no good reason other than a bloated bureaucracy.

    "In any event, come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd really like to go to a crowded first run movie and have some drunk spill beer on me as he climbs through the isle for his 4th beer run of the show."

    That's Donald Trump; he's the only that could afford to get drunk on $8.00, 10 oz beer from a Regal Cinema.

    "Obviously they can't really put tops on the beers as you don't drink beer with a straw. So you'd have drunks wandering around the dark isles with open pints in paper cups tripping on your feet. Fun."

    Never had a beer spilled on me at a McMenamins or the Laurelhurst. Maybe that's one of the reasons I prefer to go to pub-theatres: I like the audience.

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    "Obviously they can't really put tops on the beers as you don't drink beer with a straw.

    That reminds me of a stupid OLCC rule (one of many). I was at a bar that sells small pitchers (2.5 pints, I think) and I was joking around and drinking from the pitcher. Apparently, that's illegal in Oregon as apparently one could get drunk too fast. I was verbally spanked by the bouncer. Taking this almost as a dare (which I stupidly do sometimes) I poored the beer in a pint glass, as I was told, and proceeded to suck it down with a straw. The point was, of course, that I could get drunk much faster drinking a pint through a straw (which is perfectly legal) than I could drinking casually from a pitcher.

    Yup, I showed them.

    But this is another argument against beer in theaters... putting a lid on the cups, making someone drink through a straw, would get people drunk faster. And bottles definitely wouldn't be an option. Picture it, dead silence - a very climactic point of a movie - and you hear "clank, clank, clank, crash... 'oops. sorry'." lol. Yeah, I don't think so.

  • keyfur (unverified)
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    But this is another argument against beer in theaters... putting a lid on the cups, making someone drink through a straw, would get people drunk faster.

    sounds like an argument for it to me!

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    I had my first experience with beer in a theater yesterday. Went to the St. John's Twin Cinema to see "Sith" and, as I had not managed to have dinner yet and it was 8:15, I had a piece of pizza and a pint of Fat Tire. Everybody got their food/beer before the movie started and then sat politely in their seat until the end of the movie. They have the same policy as McMenamins, no one under 21 after 6:00. They were very scrupulous about ID. They checked everyone, even us doddering old folks.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I'll join with the libertarian oriented on this one. Laws micromanaging alcohol sale and consumption are silly.

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    You can sign up to go fight the war in Iraq at 18, but can't buy a pint of Bagdad Ale until 21. Sure makes sense to me.

    Instead of teaching our kids an appreciation for wine, we demonize it. In most countries --except the most fundamentalist-- I can bring my family into a restaurant where we can ALL enjoy a glass of wine. In Frankfurt, I can walk around with a cup of hot spiced wine at a festival without having to be penned up in a "special" section like in Pioneer Square, where under 21's are kept out by burly security guards.

    In the meantime, 18 year-olds cross the border to Tijuana to drink, then crash their cars coming back to San Diego. (Just as New Jersey teens did back when New York's drinking age was 18.)

    Maybe someday we'll grow up and treat alcohol as a beverage, not the devil's handiwork.

  • iggi (unverified)
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    I had my first experience with beer in a theater yesterday. Went to the St. John's Twin Cinema to see "Sith"

    that's funny, because i went there last night and it was "family night" so i couldn't get any beer...that worked out okay as i smuggled my flask in on the sly and sipped happily through that entire crap-tacular movie.

    what Regal should do is, if they see a family come in, send an usher to sit next to them for the entire film -- this way they can make sure no kids are drinking. this will not only generate jobs -- ie, one usher per family -- but will prevent children from stealing any poisonous, life-threatening alchohol from their unsuspecting parents. after all, adults have poorer eyesite and it would be nearly impossible for them to spot a child with a pint in his/her hands once the lights go out.

    the OLCC should also be allowed to install miniature cameras in our homes (preferably over the liquor cabinet) to monitor potential underage alcohol abuse. if an underage person violates the 10' rule (10' from the bottle at all times), a small electric current is passed through their tiny, underdeveloped frame...repeated shock treatments should curb their enthusiasm for the devil's brew.

  • iggi (unverified)
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    i note, in retrospect, that that was a rather ham-handed attempt at satire...my apologies.

  • glenlivid (unverified)
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    iggi: I Don't think you need to apologize, I think we should all feel a little silly about having to debate beer being served in the same building as Milk Duds and the huge consideration of the lights being turned out. To me, these are non-issues wrapped neatly in a package of parental concern by the OLCC. This gives the OLCC another venue to express how much their jobs are necessary while at the same time giving wing-nut soccer mom's the ability to express how much concern they have for their children while missing the larger points: We don't need the OLCC stuffing non-issues down our throats, we don't need to be paranoid about everyone swapping beer and clothing in movie theatres when the lights go out, because, in all honesty, we don't care if Regal serves beer or not...just keep your hands of the already efficiently operating pub theatres.

  • oregon girl in exile (unverified)
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    I don't really like beer and don't drink wine very often, but when I was in Portland I'd always go see movies at the Misson, the Bagdad, the St. John's Dome, et cetera. I was never bothered by any little kiddies or drunk adults. The seats were mostly spaced so that no one would be tripping over the feet of strangers, should they actually get up during the movie which was quite rare. As for the movies I did see at Regal - noisy people, their noisy kids, and the their noisy cell phones, as well as the overpriced tickets, lack of decent food, and cramped uncomfortable seats were enough of a turn off.

    I remember when I was growing up in the Willamette Valley and the two cinemas downtown each had a balcony. Now if Regal had balconies, they could put the drinking up there and the screaming brats down below, but instead Regal has these ugly boxy buildings they call theatres.

    The Brothers McMenamin can come open up brew pub theatres anytime they want down here in D/FW! (At least we finally got Taco del Mar.)

    BTW, I seem to remember that under Oregon law (unless it has changed) parents are allowed to give the kids alcohol at home.

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