Theater management, while rewarding, demands much from its workers. An assistant manager in a theater must keep track of many things and communicate with different kinds of companies, in addition to the duties inherent in the assistant manager position for any retail or other commercial setting. Some tasks vary depending on the nature of the theater: A movie theater assistant manager will not perform quite the same duties as a performing arts theater manager.
The movies may be fun to watch, but someone has to make them viewable for the public. Assistant movie theater managers must “build” the movies as they arrive, joining together various reels to create the movie, and adding film trailers and advertisements. Likewise, when the movie leaves, if it is a 35 mm film, he must “break down” the movie and separate the trailers from the reels once again. Digital movies are deleted from the central server, much as you would delete a file from a personal computer.
The assistant movie theater manager keeps track of the movies (known as "prints") that pass in and out of the theater, whether 35 mm reels or digital movies on hard drives. Deluxe, Technicolor and Cinedigm are the primary distributors. Each distribution company has its own rules and regulations on how to handle its movie prints, and how the prints should be returned. Both 35 mm reels and hard drives incur rental fees, so the assistant manger must ensure the movie gets back to these companies when the theater concludes its run of the film.
In addition to meeting the wishes of the distribution companies, a movie theater's assistant manager must also meet the demands of the movie production companies and, occasionally, even film directors. Sometimes these various companies will provide contradictory instructions, and the assistant manager must decide which policy to follow.
Within performing arts and concert venues, production companies list demands for dressing rooms and other performers. These demands range from food to convenient bathroom locations, and the assistant manager must work with the general manager to ensure these demands are met.
Not only does the assistant manager play a central role in maintaining the “booth” (the projector area of the movie theater), but she also helps when customers no longer want to deal with cashiers. Common complaints include the prices of concession items and/or tickets, movie quality, sound/picture problems and misbehaving patrons.
In performing arts and concert venues, the assistant manager deals with customer complaints and problems with ticketing and concessions, if offered. For "hot ticket" events, theater management works with the general staff to guard against unauthorized entry into the venue, as well as to protect against ticket scalping to ensure the integrity of the tickets of paying customers.
Assistant managers, regardless of theater venue, must keep track of the concession inventory, including popcorn seed and popping oil, candy and beverages. A thorough count occurs for each item (including popcorn bags and cups); the assistant compiles a financial report to determine whether the on-hand inventory matches what the theater’s accounting system claims has been sold.
Performing arts and concert venues place greater emphasis on inventorying ticket stubs to ensure accuracy of the theater's accounting system and to double-check the honesty of the general staff selling tickets.
An assistant manager at any theater supervises employees. Occasionally, this will mean he must discipline or fire an employee for misconduct. There are also times, however, when the assistant manager promotes or gives out bonuses to hard-working employees. Assistant managers make sure their employees are utilizing their time properly, whether cleaning or serving the public.
When the general manager of any theater takes time off, the assistant manager assumes his position temporarily. The assistant manager completes all the tasks of the general manager in addition to performing her own duties. The additional responsibilities may include paperwork, communicating with higher management, hiring or terminating employees, and responsibility for the general operations of the theater.
Amanda Holden has more than 17 years of professional writing experience. She is trained in computer programming and computer repair, and currently holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and geology with a minor in computer science. She is pursuing her PhD at a major university. Holden writes for various websites on subjects such as computer science, technical specifications, education, science and math.