The Death of the Ticket Stub

I am one of those pack-rat weirdos that keeps all of his ticket stubs. I have kept every movie stub since summer 2004 (16 years old). I enjoy stubs for the same reason music buffs enjoy vinyl cases: when you touch something, the memories flood back. When I review my stubs, I remember who I saw the film with and my reaction to it. If asked without stub in hand, I probably couldn’t tell you. I see so many movies that most of them disappear into the depths of my head.

My friends, the ticket stub is dying. Most of my favorite theaters, including the ArcLight and Landmark chains, have largely surrendered ticket-grade stock in favor of cheaper receipt paper. Like normal cashier receipts, the ink fades quickly. I can’t read half the stubs collected last year. As if to crush my heart further, ArcLight’s new stubs don’t even have perforated edges: the takers rip the paper down the middle, leaving you with a half-torn memento and broken dreams.

Look, I appreciate the cost of quality stock and the financial decision to downgrade. Selling thousands of tickets a day, that novelty expense hurts the bottom line. And I’m sure someone can even make an environmental case for lighter paper. But it makes me sad.

Before long, theaters may not print stubs at all. There is a huge push for mobile ticketing. Near field communication technology and supporting software like Google Wallet are looking to turn your smartphone into your wallet, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, and ticket stubs. While I find this trend very exciting (and very much look forward to having an app document every movie I see so I do not have to anymore), I mourn the death of the ticket stub. I will have less than a decade of stubs to share with my children before ticketing moves into the cloud. After that, who else cares? There’s nothing novel about a digital list.