AMC Alters Policy on Children


Parents can take their young children into AMC movie theaters after all, but they won’t exactly be made to feel welcome.

AMC officials decided Monday to back off their outright ban on children under 3 at theaters showing films rated PG-13 or R, concluding that the rule would not meet the test of the state’s Unruh Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing and services (including theaters) based on age, sex, sexual preference, race and marital status.

Instead, patrons with small children now will be “strongly discouraged” from attending those films, AMC officials said.


Translation: There will be signs in theater lobbies and announcements in the auditoriums outlining the chain’s stance that “infants in theaters are not compatible with a positive movie-going experience,” in the words of AMC Vice President Greg Rutkowski.

Parents also will be advised of this when buying tickets, but the chain can’t stop them from attending a film, Rutkowski said. Under the new “Silence is Golden” policy, parents with crying infants will be asked to wait in the lobby during a film.

AMC has four theaters in Orange County.

The new “Silence is Golden” policy was announced June 13 as one of several promotional programs being launched by the Kansas City-based AMC, which operates 1,600 screens in 24 states. As part of the policy, noisy theater patrons will be ejected after one warning and auditoriums will be more tightly policed by ushers and managers for noise problems.

Theater employees have been announcing the new noise program, which was to take effect Monday, to audiences before screenings. Rutkowski said the announcement has generally been received with enthusiasm.

But after Buena Park father Frank Westall complained and threatened to challenge the legality of an outright ban on young children, AMC officials decided to modify the policy on children. Rutkowski said they made the decision after conferring with company attorneys.

“This is exactly the reason we had the orientation period,” he added. “This company always maintains flexibility. Nothing was ever chiseled in stone.”