Are you an avid movie-goer? Do you also like to carry a large purse or bags with you everywhere you go? If you answered yes to these questions, you may also be asking yourself, “Are you allowed to bring backpacks into a movie theater?” The answer is “sometimes,” and there may be some rules or restrictions.
For a description of the rules for a couple of popular theaters (AMC and Cinemark) as well as some personal anecdotes of my movie-going experiences, read on.
Are you allowed to bring backpacks into an AMC movie theater?
AMC does not have a company-wide policy on backpacks. Instead, they allow individual theater managers to choose whether or not they will check large bags due to security concerns. Many employees may on the side of caution and choose to either search your backpack or tell you that it isn’t allowed inside as a safety precaution.
It is important to always be respectful of a theater’s rules, because their policies are enacted for your own safety and the safety of others.
Often, theater workers may suspect that you are bringing in your own food if you come into the theater carrying a large backpack. While it is not illegal for you to bring your own food into the theater, many theaters have rules prohibiting you from doing so.
Like most other movie theater chains, AMC, in general, does not allow movie-goers to bring in their food from outside.
Because of this policy, theater workers may choose to search your backpack to see if you are carrying any food that you shouldn’t have with you.
If they find food or drinks, many workers will tell you that you have to eat or drink them before stepping into the theater. However, you may get lucky and find a more lenient employee that allows you to bring in a smaller food item.
It’s important to note that AMC does allow their guests to bring in their own clear bottled water or empty water bottle that they can fill up at a water fountain.
Can you bring a backpack into a Cinemark theater?
Cinemark has doubled down on their security measures since they have experienced a tragedy at one of their theaters in which a customer brought in and used dangerous weaponry. They have since enacted policies to help make the moviegoing experience safer for both employees and customers.
Cinemark has had a backpack size policy since 2018, which states that any backpack measuring larger than 12 x 12 x 6 inches will not be allowed into the theater. This includes both backpacks and large purses.
Here’s a youtube video discussing Cinemark’s backpack policies:
In general, Cinemark theaters do not have a bag check area, and their employees typically do not inspect backpacks. Instead, they will tell you that you simply can’t bring the bag into the theater because of its size. You will have to leave the bag in your car or in another area if you still want to see the movie.
However, you will still be allowed to bring in diaper bags or medical bags of any size.
Like AMC, Cinemark does not allow customers to bring in outside food or drink inside their backpacks. While their bag size policy is directed towards safety concerns, it also helps to prohibit customers from bringing in food.
It’s important to note that movie theaters’ ban on outside food is not only to help boost their own food sales, but it’s also to help with cleanliness. Customers may sometimes bring in sticky or messy food that may spill onto the floor or on the seats.
Personally, I have encountered scenarios of all kinds. I’ve entered a movie theater a few times with a medium-sized backpack, and the employees didn’t ask me anything about it. However, at a few other theaters, I’ve been stopped and asked if they can look into my backpack really quickly, which has never been a problem.
Sometimes, the backpack “search” is simply the workers asking if I can open my backpack so they can glance inside it to ensure there are no safety concerns. Once they are satisfied, they allow the backpack in. However, I’ve also encountered the scenario where the employees ask that all large backpacks be left in the car.
I’ve had friends who experienced the same situation in which the employees told them that their backpack simply wasn’t allowed due to its size. One time, my friend responded that she needed the backpack for medical purposes. The backpack was permitted once she was able to show that the bag was carrying medical supplies and medication.
As we have learned, it’s important to check with your specific theater before bringing a large backpack to the movie.
After all, it may depend on the worker you encounter whether or not your bag gets checked or whether or not they care about any food you bring inside. Additionally, if you need to bring in a large backpack for medical reasons, be prepared to show the employee that the bag is carrying necessary items.
Overall, you may find success bringing a backpack into the theater if you ask politely beforehand and show that you aren’t carrying anything dangerous or any food into the theater. However, be aware that you still may not be allowed to bring it in due to the theater’s policies.
Leave a comment below if you have any anecdotes or questions about movie theaters and their backpack policies!