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Former Cineplex pre-show host Tanner Zipchen says he was paid in Scene points

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Anyone with a Scene card knows that Cineplex’s branded points are a pretty decent loyalty program for movie lovers, granting cardholders access to free movies and more for routinely watching flicks in theatres or eating at one of the chain’s partner restaurants.

But there’s definitely no argument that the points would be enough to live off of.

Unfortunately for Tanner Zipchen, the former face of Cineplex’s pre-show segment, the Canadian cinema giant seemed to think Scene points were payment enough for his hosting services. Zipchen just admitted to the Star that for a large chunk of his tenure with the company, he was only paid in Scene points.

The 30-year-old, who is from Saskatoon but moved to Toronto for the gig, is speaking about his experience now that he’s been let go from his role last month after the movie chain was acquired by U.K. competitor Cineworld. “You can’t pay a mortgage with Scene points,” he told the Star.

Zipchen came into the role as an entertainment industry hopeful who was voted in by fans after a video audition in 2015.

The agreement was that he give anywhere from a few days to a few weeks of his time each month to host the show that aired before every Cineplex movie, in return for exposure and enough scene points for about one free movie a week, as well as some free rentals from the Cineplex store.

He eventually managed to secure what he told the Star was “a small monthly fee” for added responsibilities, like writing articles for the Cineplex site, and was finally put on salary as a full-time employee in January 2017. Before that time, Cineplex apparently saw him as simply a contest winner instead of an employee.

Zipchen has clarified in a series of tweets that his comments to the Star were not meant to be a complaint of any sort about Cineplex or his time there. “I knew what I was getting into,” he said both in a tweet and in the article. “You have to be prepared to make sacrifices. It was a chance to follow my passion and do what I love.”

Instead, he said the payment issue is just one part of “a larger story about working for exposure in the industry.”

There has been increasingly more uproar in recent years about such “opportunities,” as well as unpaid internships, which are really only available to select demographics privileged enough to be able to afford working for free in the hopes of landing a paying job afterward.

And now, in a time when kids grow up wanting to be YouTube stars and Instagram influencers more than anything else, exposure can seem more and more valuable. 

The response to the Zipchen news has been shocking to fans, who have found it a perfect example of not only the plight of millennials looking to succeed in today’s job market and economy, but also the nightmare that is our capitalist society.

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