Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 6,607 screens in 521 theatres in 37 states and the District of Columbia as of October 25, 2012, with over 211 million attendees for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2011 ("fiscal 2011").gloriously, we were the only two in attendance. i wondered if the movie would not play if they hadn't sold any tickets. and if not, was that all built-in to their computer/ticket system, or did they actually have a human looking in?
on the way out, we asked. we were told that the movies all play automatically, whether there was anyone in the theater or not. (seems like a waste). I also thought about the tissue paper i jammed in my ears, which made the soundtrack merely Quite Loud (next time, i'll be bringing along my sound pressure meter; i fear some of the peaks are in the 110-120 dB range).
so not only do the movies play automatically, i reckon the volume levels are beyond the control of anyone at the facility. same with the dimming lights and the curtain screen that quietly whooshed to a wider aspect after the previews/commercials and before the main feature. the projectors are all digital, so no one needs to operate them (i wonder how they're loaded/configured).
we didn't visit the concession stand, which i'm pretty sure is still staffed by humans. we bought our tickets from a human, but that's obviously un-necessary these days. a human took our tickets, and another wandered into the theater in the middle of the showing (to make sure we weren't disturbing other patrons?).
in all, i think we saw fewer humans -- including patrons -- than there are theaters. granted, it was an off time (Monday 2:45 showing), and this megaplex definitely gets crowded. i reckon Regal has found a way to maximize profit while minimizing payroll.