PARENTS
03/26/2018 12:02 EDT | Updated 03/26/2018 12:02 EDT

Montreal Cinema's Baby Fee Sparks Debate Over Children In Movie Theatres

"When I go to the movies, I want to hear the movie, not your baby."

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This is a tough one.

On the one hand, when you're a parent, taking your baby to a matinee is a great way to get out of the house and do something fun, and — since your baby will just be in your arms the whole time — it should be inexpensive. But on the other hand, if you're one of the other movie-goers in the theatre (maybe you're even a parent trying to get a break from your own kids), you didn't pay good money only to listen to a baby for two hours, right?

That's the crux of the debate after a Montreal movie theatre charged a mom $7 to bring her six-month-old to a matinee. People on social media have chimed in on both sides of the argument, with many saying the movies is no place for a baby, and others saying parents — like anyone — have the right to enjoy a movie, even with a baby in tow.

The fee is meant to be a deterrent

Andria Riti, who is currently on maternity leave, recently took her eight-year-old and six-month-old daughters to a Cinemas Guzzo location in Montreal. She was shocked when she was told she had to pay admission for her baby, she told CTV News.

"I asked for a general admission for myself and my eldest daughter, and he pointed to the stroller and said 'she has to pay too,'" Riti said.

"She can fly for free on an airplane, she can gain free admittance to Disney theme parks, but she's got to pay to watch a Disney movie."

But the theatre owner said the fee is meant to deter parents from bringing noisy kids to the movies. They've had complaints in the past, Vince Guzzo told CTV.

"Do we try and respect 0.01 per cent of our business who are under three years old or do we respect the other 99 per cent of people?"

Paying for babies isn't a new debate

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This isn't the first time parents have been shocked to discover their babes-in-arms needed tickets for an event.

Many parents were dismayed to discover their babies would need full-price tickets to attend a Raffi concert in Ottawa this past fall. Tickets for the show ranged from $34.50 to $69.50 plus fees, and were being sold for $76 and up on secondary ticketing sites, HuffPost Canada previously reported.

While babies are welcome, the shows are really meant for children who are old enough to sing along and handle the loud noises of a concert, Kim Layton of Troubador Music explained in an email to HuffPost Canada at the time.

Children under three are still free at special times

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Guzzo told CTV that children under age three can still get into the movies for free at special times set aside for people with babies and toddlers. Otherwise, there's a flat rate for all children under age 13, according to CBC News.

Having a set time for parents to take their babies to the movies is common practice at other movie theatres such as Cineplex, which offers a "Stars and Strollers" program at participating locations. However, Cineplex doesn't charge admission to children under age three at any of their 163 theatres across Canada, spokesperson Sarah Van Lange told HuffPost Canada in an email.

"Cineplex is delighted to welcome children under three years of age free of charge," Van Lange said.

In 2016, Guzzo faced backlash after the parents of a 10-week-old baby had to pay for her admission to a morning screening of Finding Dory. The baby would just be sleeping or nursing the entire time, her parents told CBC News, calling the policy "stupid."

After initially sticking by his policy that everyone had to pay for admission, period, Guzzo changed his mind and allowed young children to get in for free at 10:30 a.m. shows, CBC reported.

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