AMC Memorial Square 8 Theatres: The Best Job I Ever Deserved to Lose

Most of us have been lucky enough to have had that one magically clichéd summer job that, looking back on it now, probably could’ve been the basis for a coming-of-age teen comedy some years later if we had made the right connections instead of just fucking off at work.

For me, it was the AMC Memorial Square 8 Theatres, long since destroyed to make way for a Super Target, I believe. A classically partitioned eight-screen movie-house, it was surrounded by a Black Eyed Pea and a Christian book store; it was also my first job since quitting the Belle Isle Library as a wanton high-school senior. I mean, going into college soon, I felt like I needed a job with a bit more of a future—after all, eight-plex movie theaters weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, right?

That first weekend on the job, I was thrown directly into the muck and mire of the blockbuster-hopefulness of Godzilla, sponsored by Taco Bell. While many in the movie business will tell you that the Matthew Broderick-actioner was a total bomb, that weekend, we had multiple auditoriums sell-out, with managers trying to negotiate the ever-increasing lines on their walkie-talkies like Secret Services agents.

Even though newbies like me were supposed to start at the bottom—concession—I was immediately pulled out and throw right into ushering, which I learned is so much more than just cleaning up the ragged and run-down theaters in-between shows—it also means sweeping the popcorn-stained halls and making sure the equally-stained bathrooms are in check, too, among other things.

From getting to third base with a high school girl on a couple of bags of popcorn seed in the storeroom to sitting in the back of the theater and watching Jerry Springer’s Ringmaster for an entire eight-hour shift, this is how most of my summer vacation played out work-wise, one big-budgeted movie after another.

What made the job at the AMC Memorial Square 8 Theatres such a memorable one, however, was what happened when the last patron scuttled out and the doors finally closed. Whether it was sitting outside until three in the morning, smoking cigarettes and munching on stolen hot dog meat or locked inside, where we would screen the new releases late on Thursday night, smoking cigarettes and downing a case of cheap brews—all against company policy, mind you—it was the stuff of teenage dreams.

And then there were the house parties, where even the most stiff-upper lipped employees would get down and dirty in a way you knew they wouldn’t remember tomorrow; with managers having lascivious relations with their taut underlings, or the box-office girl so regularly drunk you learned what being an alcoholic truly was, or even the lonely, brooding kid who people weren’t sure what act of violence he’d inspire next, these were all fascinatingly human people that I’d doubt I’d get as close to at my next job, or really any job, down the line.

I’m still friends with many of them too.

It was a beautiful repetition of brain-cell murdering delights at the AMC Memorial Square 8 Theatres, wherein you’d show up for work the next day and do it all over again, rinse and repeat. During those scant few months of Technicolor duty, you could fill a stolen book of free movie passes—used to trade with Black Eyed Pea, natch—each employee’s slovenly tale of dropped morals, dirty pranks and three-month engagements built on teen-lust that never ended well.

As you could probably guess, once autumn approached, the AMC corporate chickens from Kansas City came home to roost, declaring they were going to blissfully tear the AMC Memorial Square 8 Theatres down and build a brand-new AMC Quail Springs 24 Megaplex, right down the road. Even though rebellious talk of what shit we were going to do in defense of our old eight-screen littered the broom-closets and break-rooms, none of it mattered: once corporate found out about the consistent dalliances and never-ending soirees, multiple employees—including myself—were fired just as we came in for our shifts one chilly early evening.

A few of the redundant thought the firings were mostly unjust and actually tried to file with the ACLU for wrongful dismissal or something to that effect. And for a while, I was as upset as anyone else; but the truth is we did smoke—a lot—and we did drink—a lot—and we did everything else possible—a lot—to make it the most fun McJob any company could bestow upon a once-sequestered kid from Oklahoma City. That was enough of a resume-builder for me.

Besides, within a couple of days, I already had a great job lined up at the Blockbuster on N.W. 36th and N. May. You just knew those guys were going to be around even longer than some dumb megaplex, right?


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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16 Responses

  1. I believe your recollection is only slightly off. The theater was on the west side of the mall, in a building that has since been a Sears Home Store, golf retailer, and at one point some sort of craft boutique that was set up somewhat like a garage sale. In keeping with the theme of the article, and perhaps revealing too much about my age; I worked at the Black Eyed Pea. Incredible to think that place was around as long as it was.

    1. I believe it’s your recollection that’s off. That was a different theater, a General Cinemas, I think. It was built in the 90s. The AMC was east of the mall and built in the 80s.

      I’m fact, there is a map right there in the article showing the theater east of the mall.

      The one on the west side of the mall has only been a movie theater and an antique shop. The Hometown Sears is next to it and is a new building built just after they closed the Sears in the mall to build Von Mar.

      1. I stand corrected. Hardly the first time, surely not the last. Thank you.

    2. The theatre he is referencing was indeed east of the mall, and it was indeed where the Super Target is now. There was a black eyed pea, there was also a Henry Hudson’s. The Theatre you are referencing just west of quail springs mall came a few years later…..and is now an Antique Mall

  2. My husband worked at the movie theater for several years, starting at the Kickingbird Square theater for Regal, then moving to the Crossroads theater and then finally settling at the Windsor Hills theater! He loved that job more than life itself, being a movie buff and a night owl, it was the perfect job (except the terrible pay)! We had some great times at the theater, especially when he became a manager and we felt the responsibility of “christening” the office upstairs! Lol! Unlimited free concession and movies! Couldn’t beat it!

  3. Louis was only slightly off about the location of the SuperTarget. It was built just to the north of where Memorial Square 8 was. The SuperTarget held a job fair that I attended in one of the empty shells of the shopping/dining complex the theater was in. The complex was torn down to make way for resturants like Bravo and P.F. Chang’s and a more modern set of strip malls.

    The theater WhoDat mentions on the west side of Quail was the General Cinemas theater. It closed and eventually became “The Market at Quail Springs.” The Sears Hometown and whatever else were built adjacent to the Market.

    1. Yep, that’s what my memory serves as well. There was a pretty decent Chinese buffet on the west side of the building.

  4. The real tragedy was when they closed the Hunan Wok, just before tearing the entire structure down. I really miss that place.

  5. Nice ‘stache, Louis. Seems more befitting of an employee of the late, Fine Arts Cinema – formerly of the 10th and MacArthur vicinity. Purveyor of such classics as Sugar Cookies, The Farmer’s Daughters and the classic Snow white & the Seven Perverts.

  6. Back in the early 90’s that’s where Rocky Horror ended up after getting kicked out of Northpark. The employees were awesome. Knew me and waved me in every time. And every friday and saturday we would DESTROY that theater. Toast, rice and squirt guns everywhere. And the employees never ever complained. Not to us, anyway. Guess we all enjoyed the same kinda weird.

  7. I worked with Louis that summer at the theater and it was definitely a great time. I even know exactly who he is referring to when he mentions the brooding, seemingly-violence-prone teen.

    That whole theater job seems like a movie script – Empire Records in an AMC or something.

  8. Therecwas a Fudrucker on the NW corner ofvthe complex. Also will always remember Halloween night and The Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd.
    Officer Bill just loved that night.

  9. The “Wet Hot American Cinema” of working at the AMC Memorial Square 8 is still my favorite job, ever, despite how miserable the money was; the rest of the experience made up for it.

    Such a low-paying job made me realize how resilient the human body can be, despite it being regularly fueled by nothing but “damaged-out” Sour Patch Kids and three-day-old popcorn kept in a garbage bag. It made those nights of trading movie passes for food from Papa John’s, The Black-eyed Pea, and the Chinese restaurant around the corner feel like a night out on the town.

  10. Saw Ferris Bueller there.

  11. I worked at Eton square 6 in Tulsa as a teen. We had parties on the roof, for some reason i was promoted to assistant manager and had a key for the roof. I was naive enough to think we wouldn’t get caught. It was never addressed, but I took a leave of absence and was wondering why I wasn’t hired back….
    Best job ever, except for the 5.35 pay

  12. I have great memories of going to that theater in high school. I still miss the rewards card – I racked up so many points & it seemed like I was always getting freebies. Plus, weren’t the movie tickets like $3.50 or something like that?

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