Theater Owner: I Charge So Much For Popcorn Because You Spill It All Over The Place

Earlier this month, a man in Michigan attained minor Internet folk hero status when he sued his local movie theater for charging sky-high prices at the concession stand while refusing to let customers bring in their own grub. But now one theater owner has tried to explain just why he and others charge the so much.

You’re not just paying for the cost of the food, the theater owner told the Detroit Free Press. You’re also paying for cleaning up the mess you leave behind with your careless eating:

The life of a popcorn seed would actually be very interesting, from getting popped to putting into a bucket, to where it ends up at the end of the day, whether it’s in someone’s stomach or smushed into the seats or the floors of the theater… If people would spill that popcorn in the living room as they do in the movie theater, I think they would understand the labor costs that go into running a concession stand in a busy movie theater.

He also points out that most of the ticket money goes to the movie studios and distributors, meaning the owners’ only recourse is to charge more for food and drinks.

“If we can’t keep a majority of that ticket price there’s only one way that we can pay for everything… and that’s at the concession stand,” he says.

The owner suggests that moviegoers should shop around to find which theaters offer the best deals on concessions.

Movie theater owner explains why concessions cost so much [Free Press via]


Edit Your Comment

  1. petepuma02 says:

    I despise litter and slobs. But I feel totally justified leaving garbage behind in a theater due to the astronomical prices they charge. If $9 for popcorn doesn’t include garbage disposal, it should.

    • MrObvious says:

      Yes, you show that minimum wage worker in charge of cleaning up your mess whose boss!

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      You feel justified in being a pig merely because of high concession prices? Wow,,,that’s a new I’ve heard. I didn’t know you were the center of the universe.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        Says the guy caught jerking it in a theater.

        In all seriousness, I agree. The moment people feel they are entitled to be jackasses due to what they see as unfair prices is the moment they are horribly wrong about their way of thinking.

        If you do anything that makes you feel this way, you should probably consider either finding a cheaper route that doesn’t turn to into a worldclass asshole or give up the objective altogether.

        • ovalseven says:

          I’m a little Pee Wee, short and stout
          Here is my hand and here is my spout
          When the movie’s over hear me shout
          “Call my lawyer and bail me out”

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            Y’know, come to think of it, I remember driving by that very adult movie theatre Pee-wee Herman got caught with his wee-wee in his hands, that one time I was in Sarasota. Trust me when I say there’s nothing much to see there, but I guess the Chamber of Commerce put up a plaque in front of said theatre to proclaim their moment of history.

            Should Mr. Reubens show his face there again, I’m guessing they’ll give him an honourary key to the city.

      • Jillia says:

        Yea, if this guy says they charge more because people are slobs, then you (petepuma) are just adding to the problem.

    • sirwired says:

      I’m not sure how the price charged justifies being a dick.

      Making an unholy mess is not likely to convince a theater owner to charge less for concessions.

      • JennQPublic says:

        Some people will always go out of their way to justify being a dick. They’re just dicks that are also too big of pussies to own their dickishness, and need to hide it behind lame excuses. They’re worse than honest, upfront dicks, IMO.

        • LabGnome says:

          All this. There is no justification for the behavior. Just be honest (I know it is hard for dicks to do) and just admit, you are a dick, you derive pleasure from making others unhappy. Make your mess to get your jollies say it is how you make yourself happy and move on.

    • FilthyHarry says:

      If you think about it, taking this owner at his word (which I don’t) you’re a job creator!

    • nautox says:

      Oh, so thats why Starbucks is so expensive, because you’re going to use their restrooms to dispose of it?

    • mr cloudy says:

      I remember once going to the Arclight Cinema in LA near Vine. There was dried nacho sauce just spread right up the carpeted wall as I entered one of the screens. Someone clearly didn’t have enough napkins and decided to wipe their hands on the wall instead of going out to get some. I laughed quite hard at that. And, yes their concessions were overpriced.

    • blueman says:

      Your product, which I choose to buy of my own volition because I can’t go 90 minutes without a salty snack, is overpriced. Therefore I am totally justified in leaving a pile of garbage on your floor.

      Does that just about sum up your point?

  2. shinseiromeo says:

    I can see there point.

    Every. Single. Time. I go to a theater people up and leave with garbage all over the floor and seats. It sickens me and I bring it up to them every time. “you’re an adult and you leave garbage on the floor, how would you like it if I visited your home and did that”?

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      That was you??

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      I think the same thing at public restrooms. “Oh? You shit all over the seat and floor at home, too?”

    • tbax929 says:

      Are you the popcorn police? Are you also one of those people who drives the speed limit in the left lane because it’s the law, and you feel obligated to enforce it?

      I never leave trash in a theater, but you really should mind your own business. It’s not worth getting shot, or even punched, over. If the theater owner is that bothered by it, he can have the ushers watch to see who leaves a mess and shame them for it. It’s not your job.

  3. kataisa says:

    Since when did movie theaters clean the floors?

    • evilpete says:

      I wondered that also..

    • DJ Charlie says:

      Came here to say exactly that! Most expensive place in my area ($18 per ticket!) has the WORST seats and floors. The $2 second run place down the street stays immaculate though. Hmm…

    • valthun says:

      A new mini-chain opened near me there are three of them in the greater area. Their employees dress in a nice uniform, all seats are reserved, an employee welcomes movie goers at the beginning of each movie before the trailer. There are no annoying 20 minute tv ads. Then after the movie they go through with a hand brush and sweep every chair and then sweep the floors.

      This place took an existing theater and completely remodeled it. The ticket prices are a little higher, but being a “member” (free online sign-up) and purchase online I get a discount on the ticket.

      The concessions aren’t cheap, but I will buy the popcorn because they use, gasp, real butter upon request. None of that coconut oil butter like flavoring crap of the mega chains.

      The entire place is cleaner then the mega chain it once was and I have become a huge fan of the place.

  4. PhiTauBill says:

    This begs the question… if people brought in their own popcorn, would they spill it less?

  5. Clyde Barrow says:

    I read yesterday that the first two months of a new movie release all profits go to the studio.

    I can this happening; As movies begin new, zero profits come in so older movies and concessions will make up the gap. As movies overlap from new to old, the concessions will maintain a profit margin so the business can stay open. Concessions are probably the only “constant” in owning a movie theatre whereas the profits on movies fluctuate depending on it’s release date and older movies being shown.

  6. MrObvious says:

    Movie theaters would not exists without high concession prices, it is the only way they make money, not to mention the building and everything needs to be paid for somehow. Almost all of the ticket money goes back to enrich the Hollywood stars.

    • shinseiromeo says:

      Then why does the studio need to make seven trillion dollars on a movie and the theater makes 1% of that, IF THAT…?

      • SabreDC says:

        Because the movie studio’s costs include graphic designers, actors, carpenters, stunt people, explosives technicians, automotive technicians, musicians, audio engineers, lighting engineers, camera operators, etc. The theater’s costs include a guy out of high school who rips your ticket in half and some electricity to run the projector.

        Why *shouldn’t* the studio gets 99% of the profits when they do at least 99% of the work to make and deliver the product?

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Because without the theaters they would have no place to show their movies? Kinda like without retail stores that get roughly 50% of the take they would have no place to sell their DVDs.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      The part that people seem to forget is that movies cannot exist without theaters to show them in. It’s a highly symbiotic relationship.

      So every time I hear a theater owner cry about not getting enough of the take and as such they’re forced to charge us $8 for a quarter’s worth of popcorn I really cannot muster any sympathy. They do it cause it’s a lot easier than demanding more from the studios that 100% rely upon them to show their movies. Maybe it’s time the National Association of Theatre Owners got off their asses and stood up to the studios to demand more money for their clients instead of continually shafting the movie-going public with more and more commercials and ridiculously-priced concessions, not to mention their absolute refusal to enforce any kind of decorum in their theaters beyond the cursory sweep for video cameras.

      And as usual, they continue to get away with it cause stupid people keep giving them money.

      • ajaxd says:

        Correction: Mega-blockbusters loaded with special effects with all-star cast would not exist without movie theaters. Otherwise plenty of productions are doing just fine on network and cable TV.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          This x 1,000,000.

        • Posthaus says:

          I don’t buy that. Then movies would be straight to retail/digital distribution without theaters. And I have a feeling the costs for the consumer would skyrocket in kind.

          I do think studios and productions profit better in a movie setting in that it is presumably cheaper and maybe easier to show on the big screen to a larger audience at a time than producing and selling the same number of DVDs, or the bandwidth for downloads. But they do seem to take the system for granted.

      • Billl says:

        Ummm theater owners banding together to work out pricing? That sounds a little like collusion and sounds Illegal…

    • bluline says:

      “The owner suggests that moviegoers should shop around to find which theaters offer the best deals on concessions.”

      Or just don’t buy the crap. I haven’t purchased anything from a movie concession stand in 30 years.

  7. powdered beefmeat says:

    Ohhhh, so the reason why I pay so much at the local steak house is because they have to cover the cost of cleaning the dishes?

    • pandroid says:

      No, it’s because the cattle had expensive spa treatments!

    • parliboy says:

      Well, the waiter is only paid half of minimum wage, and the rest is tips. The dishwasher gets at least full minimum wage. So yeah, the restaurant pays more for the guy washing your dishes than the guy who brings you food.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Yep,,it’s called “labor costs” and it includes the dish washing.

    • booboloo says:

      If your steakhouse had fabric seating and people spilled s*** all over em and the floor all the time you’d have a point. but people tend to act more civilized in steak houses, I think its because in the darkness people feel they aren’t being watched.

  8. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    charging more than minimum wasge does include cleanup.
    Also, I suspect collusion on movie snack pricing, especially when all movie theaters within 30 miles are owned by the same company.

    Drive-ins for the win.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      I think all the McDonald’s I have visited have been colluding too. They all have the same price for their food. Somehow they are being told what to charge. I’m not sure how this is going on.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

      If all the theaters are owned by the same company they cannot by definition be colluding since that would be one entity colluding with itself.

      • StarKillerX says:

        You beat me to it.

        Oh and +1 for quoting Inigo Montoya.

      • Firethorn says:

        True. I’d go with ‘monopolistic practices’. Why is one movie theater company allowed to own all the theaters in 100 miles or so, yet you can’t have less than 3 competing cellphone companies without anti-trust measures being used?

  9. donjumpsuit says:

    I would pay $20 for a movie ticket, if I could buy a $2.00 Large Popcorn and a $2.25 Large Fountain Drink. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • MrObvious says:

      I would prefer this too. Make all the freeloaders who freeload off of those who buy concessions pay their fair share!

    • Geekybiker says:

      Strangely, I’d rather see it that way too even though It’d cost more for me to goto the movies. In fact there is one theatre local that does just that. You can reserve specific seats ahead of time and it includes valet parking and free popcorn. Concessions are a really marginal cost for the theatre. If you make they reasonably priced, or included I’m much much more likely to spend more money there. The current setup just encourages me to sneak my own food into the theatre.

    • somedaysomehow says:

      It’s better for consumers the other way around. If I’m broke and I want to see a movie, I can pay to get into the movie and skip the concessions. (I do this frequently.) However, you wouldn’t just go to a theater for the concessions and skip the movie. Ticket prices lower and concessions higher is better for low-income folks who wouldn’t be able to afford to see movies with $20 tickets.

      • donjumpsuit says:

        Thanks guys, and somedaysomehow’s thoughtful response even though it’s opposite of my view. I think such stratospheric prices alienate consumers. I have been hearing the same thing for years (ticket prices all go to Hollywood, we need to survive) but it’s ridiculous. They should figure out some middle ground. As we all know piracy and huge screens in the homes are making theaters obsolete. No amount of 3D or “HD sound” is going to prevent them from closing, if they can’t make money AND treat the consumer properly.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        This. Yes.

        I can eat a sandwich before I go and not spend any money on concessions. If I need a cup of water and the theater charges me for the cup only, it’s usually not very much, unless they are dicks and make me pay full price for it. Or I’ll skip that theater and go to one that doesn’t do that, or sneak my water bottle in my big purse. I have to have water with me in case my stomach acts up. It makes it feel better and I can take ibuprofen immediately.

    • Costner says:

      I often go to the local “cheap” theater. They offer second run movies which aren’t shown in the primary theaters. All tickets are $3 no matter the day or time. Popcorn is either $2 or $2.50. Candy is $2. Sodas range from $1.50 to $2.50 I think.

      It is awesome. Since I’m not the type of care if I see a movie on opening weekend or three weeks later, the cheap theater works just fine.

      If I do happen to go to the “nice” theaters, the tickets cost $8, and the soda can run $5.50. Candy and popcorn are expensive too, so I end up paying at least two to three time as much for the same movie a few weeks earlier.

      • podunkboy says:

        Our local second run/bargain theater is owned by the same guy who owns 95% of the screens in town. Although tickets at the bargain theater are $3, not $10, the concessions are exactly the same price:$4 for a small drink, $5 for a small popcorn $4.50 for a hot dog. As a result, we stuff our pockets with $1 boxed movie candy from the convenience store, and the other day, my daughter’s friend smuggled 4 bottles of root beer in her purse. And we carried all the trash out ourselves.

  10. powdered beefmeat says:

    In doing a little research the theatre’s keep about 20%.

    • thomwithanh says:

      I worked in a movie theater in high school. Granted this was early 2000’s but IIRC it went something like this:

      Week 1: 95% Studio, 5% Theater
      Week 2: 90% Studio, 10% Theater
      Week 3: 80% Studio, 20% Theater
      Week 4: 60% Studio, 40% Theater
      Week 5-6: 40% Studio, 60% Theater
      Week 7+: 20% Studio, 80% Theater

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        What about when a movie is gone for a few months, the “re-released” like they did with Avatar?

  11. superml says:

    So if I don’t drop any, I should pay less then?

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’ve been in your movie theater. You haven’t cleaned any of it up.

  13. Cat says:

    I shopped around, and the theater that offers the best deals on concessions is –

    My living room.

  14. Tim says:

    I think theaters could cut a lot of costs. For example, why do you need someone to rip tickets? And you wouldn’t need so many people in ticket sales if you encouraged people to buy from the machines more or buy in advance online. Projection is getting less and less labor-intensive as digital projection becomes more widespread.

    • sqlrob says:

      It’s getting more and more labor intensive as they add 3D, needing to switch the lens set for 3D / 2D ain’t easy.

    • AllanG54 says:

      People are there not to rip the tickets but to make sure you actually have one. There’s not a lot of security in a theater and nothing to prevent you from just walking in and taking a seat. I know quite a few people that will spend hours in a multiplex going from one theater to the next to see more than one movie because no one is checking tickets.

    • SavijMuhdrox says:

      Actually, one of the reasons you need people to rip tickets is so you don’t have your employees scam you.

      With computers, you probably can or should get around this now, but the scam worked like this (and only for movies that were defnlee not going to sell out):

      Someone orders 4 tickets, you print them 2 and rip them in half and then hand them four halves.. saying ‘go right in, the ticket usher is currently busy’; AFTER you charge them for four tickets.

      Sounds lame, but movie theater managers are not necessarily wise to this tactic (or weren’t).. but working weekend matinee shifts.. you could skim something like $500 bucks off the top… you just had to be extra careful about when you did it. It required a level of coordination and risk i couldn’t be bothered with when i worked at a theater.

      it’s stupid, and illegal.. but its the reason behind the ticket ripper, who in a lot of theaters is usually someone that’s mentally or physically impaired and can’t be given other tasks, which is actually a commendable tactic. so you really don’t have a huge cost in hiring the guy.

    • Daggertrout says:

      Payroll is the one expense we really have any control over. During the week (and even on weekends when we have no new movies), we never have a dedicated doorperson. Typically I will be the one standing in the back tearing tickets even though I’m an asst. manager, and occasionally the only manager working on weekends. Which is really frustrating as I’m having to keep people from going into movies too early (either while the last show is still on or the theater still needs cleaning) yet I still have to run around doing things only I as a manager can do. Then having to chase down the 14 year old who wants to sneak into whatever R rated movie is popular that week.

      During the week we only have a manager and two regular employees (if that) and still have to deal with our upper management yelling at us to cut as many payroll hours as much and more than humanly possible.

  15. stooj says:

    I could buy that if I had ever walked into a theater that was actually clean.

  16. dragonfire81 says:

    I can’t help but wonder if some theaters are going to start tacking on some kind of concession fee to the tickets meaning that if you want to see the movie, you are REQUIRED to pay for a concession along with it, even if you have no intention of eating it.

    • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

      The Sundance Cinema in Madison adds a $2 convenience fee to each ticket.
      Stop advertising the ticket as $7.50 if you’re going to charge a mandatory $2 fee whether I get food/drinks or not!

    • bsh0544 says:

      That’s an interesting idea, actually. Charge an extra $2/ticket and use it as a $2 coupon for concessions.

      I’m not sure I like the idea, but it’s certainly one I haven’t heard before.

    • SabreDC says:

      A theater in Alexandria, VA just closed this year. They required the purchase of concessions to purchase a movie ticket. Apparently, it didn’t work out too well for them and they went bankrupt.

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      That would guarantee a huge mess is left in the theater following a show. “This mandatory popcorn is stale, let’s hurl it!”

  17. GJaunts says:

    I’ve never understood the gnashing of the teeth over movie concessions prices. You know how I get around the super expensive popcorn? I don’t buy it. Because I can go without stuffing my fat face for two hours.

    Matinee prices are $5 around here, regular showings $10. That’s two drinks at a bar. Even though I live in a city I don’t have to pay for parking if I don’t want to, and I don’t pay the astronomical concessions prices because I’m not an idiot. 5 or 10 bucks is certainly a fair price for a couple hours of entertainment on the big screen, IMO.

    • caradrake says:

      I pay concession prices because I only go to the movies once a year, if that. I usually only get a small drink or a water, and then a small popcorn unless I’m in a group, then we all go in and get a large.

      For me, it’s part of the experience. I could go an hour or two without eating, or sneak in my own food – but I only go to the theaters so irregularly, and I happen to really like fresh popcorn, that I don’t mind splurging.

      Can’t wait for The Hunger Games to come out! I might actually do my first ever midnight showing, haven’t decided yet.

      • Mambru says:

        Warm doesn’t necesarily means fresh

        • caradrake says:

          It does when you actually watch them pop it! We used to have one theater that was fantastic about only serving fresh stuff – so occasionally you had to wait a couple of minutes while a new batch popped.

          Theaters that make all of their popcorn at once, and store it in huge glass cases… I don’t buy popcorn from.

      • katarzyna says:

        I go maybe 4-5 times a year, but I do the same. It’s part of the experience for me, like eating a hot dog at a baseball game.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        “caradrake” I was waiting for someone to respond such as this and I agree wit chu. It’s not like I go to the movies more than 1x? maybe 2x a year because I have Netflix, DishTV, etc but I like to get out and enjoy the theatre every so often. When I go, I know IN ADVANCE if I have the extra money for corn, a hotdog, soda, etc. I go all out, eat junk food, and I could care less about the prices.

        Although there is one thing that I cannot do anymore that I used to do at a movie and that is stuff popcorn in my mouth and then shove about five pieces of Junior Mints in my mouth also. The combination of the choc mint and salted popcorn is awesome but my stomach cannot take it anymore.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Waiting for the DVD FTW.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Waiting for the DVD FTW.

  18. Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

    The folks who don’t clean up after themselves and leave garbage after the movie might as well be the same people who smear poop on the walls in public bathrooms. Do people get some sort of satisfaction from leaving their messes behind for someone else to clean up? Maybe it’s just my personality. Then again I’m the guy who orders sour batch kids takes the candy out of the noisy plastic and places them back in the box so I don’t disturb other people during a movie.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Some people who make messes in places like movie theaters and retail stores claim that they are doing employees a favor… “Job security,” they call it. I call it being a slob and a smug pain in the butt.

  19. zibby says:

    Hey, there’s a reason most casinos don’t sell gum – getting it off the carpet is a serious pain in the neck. He can factor in those costs if he wants. That said, stuffing my face during a movie in no way heightens the experience for me, so I’m lucky there. I do often bring in a small bottle of water which nobody has ever searched me for ahead of time or given me a problem for once I open it. Seems easy enough to do with most other consumables if you’re low key…

  20. Hi_Hello says:

    movie owners need to run it as a restaurant rather than a movie theater.
    It’s a simple idea but I don’t know if anyone has done it.

    Oh wait…someone already did it:

    It’s a simple idea… instead of people going to diner then a movie…while not go to one place to do both??

    • absinthetic says:

      Those restaurant/movie combo places are INCREDIBLY annoying if you’re there to actually sit and enjoy the movie. Gets to a quiet part in the movie are all you hear is people chomping their food and silverware banging together. You hear nearby people ordering food and drinks while you’re trying to listen to the dialog. If you don’t care about the movie and are just looking for something to entertain you while you’re eating, then fine, but for people who DO want to see and enjoy the movie, having people eating a full meal around you is very frustrating.

      • Powerlurker says:

        Check out the Alamo Drafthouse. They’re pretty strict about making noise during the show (you can see the videos they make about it online). You use a small, unobtrusive light underneath the railing/table thing to write down your order and they bring it to you quietly.

    • consumed says:
  21. FilthyHarry says:

    I call shenanigans on this. Regardless of the amount of mess, the owner would still need to pay people to clean the house. We’re supposed to believe the owner is hiring extra people just to clean the mess that is over the amount that isn’t covered by the normal cleaning crew?

    Granted the theater owners are responding to the pricing pressures of the movie studios, but if they rather take that out on the customers rather than fighting the studios, then they have to answer for it.

  22. xantec says:

    If the movie studios and distributors get the lion’s share of the ticket price then why do ticket prices vary so wildly across the country? Are they really manipulating the prices on such a micro level?

  23. elangomatt says:

    From the linked article… ‚ÄúIf you have to make money, that‚Äôs fine,‚Äù said Amber Hunt, 29, of Ferndale. ‚ÄúBut more people are just going to be sneaking in candy like me.‚Äù

    Amber considers herself a piece of candy? What is she one of the M&Ms from the commercials or something where people just want to snack on her?

    Any way on topic… It is pretty unbelievable how much people abuse public spaces just because they don’t have to clean it up at all. Just look back at that consumerist post a while back where people were describing the despicable messes that people left in public restrooms. That being said, I don’t think that the prices would get any cheaper if theaters had to pay less money for cleaning people (how much do they pay now? The floors seems sticky every time!).

  24. Cicadymn says:

    I’ve been an usher for a movie theater. There are only two options to explain how much popcorn gets on the floor:

    -People dump whatever is left over out just to be dicks.
    -People have popcorn orgies.

    There are only two options.

    • milkcake says:

      It’s definitely the orgies.

    • humphrmi says:

      Or, 3:

      – Your damned concession stands overfill the bag and everything on top falls on the floor before I can get to my seat and eat any of it

      • Cicadymn says:

        No way. Not a chance.

        A few people accidentally spilling part or even half of it, I understand. But this is 2-3 full rows that you can’t even see the floor there is so much popcorn. And it’s every movie. Every time. People wonder why the floors are so sticky? Because of the people who watched the movie right before them.

        The only feasible answer is people pouring it out, or popcorn orgies.

    • Bob says:

      I vote for option 2

  25. mattyb says:

    This is why I love frequenting the the $3.00 theater near me. Sure, the movies are usually a few months old, but a ticket is $3.00 and popcorn and candy, along with pizza, ice cream, and other delicious treats are dirt cheap compared to the traditional movie theaters. The experience is the same. The wife and I can have a night at the movies for less than $15. We’d spend more than that on tickets at most places.
    I only dish out full price for tickets and concessions for blockbuster movies that I can’t wait to see.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Lucky for you. The scumbag $3 theater near me charges, well, $3 for the show…but still sticks with the exhorbitant prices for the limited selection of lukewarm concession offerings they provide. I’m smuggling food into that biatch like a pregnant preteen Guatemalan girl smuggles coke.

  26. DonnieZ says:

    My wife and I go to the movies quite often and we combat high concession prices by taking advantage of coupons and deals our theaters offer. We have two Cinemark theatres in town, one is the first-run theatre, and the other is the “B” theatre with $2 ticket prices.

    We take in quite a few movies and Cinemark has this deal where you buy a plastic cup (48 or 64 ounces) and a plastic tub at the beginning of the year for $6 each, filled with a beverage and popcorn respectively. As long as you bring it back that year, you can get each filled for $3 each.

    If we go to the B theatre, we can have a night at the movies for $10 (2 $2 tickets, and $6 for popcorn and soda). If we go to the first run theatre, it’s a $24 or $19 affair, depending on if we can get a matenee price on the ticket. Is it the cheapest way of spending time? No, but it works for us and is cheaper than drinking at a bar for a few hours, bowling, driving anywhere far with gas prices, etc…

    When you think about it, where do theatres make most of their money if not off of concessions?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      A female friend of mine uses coupons also. Once we went to the movie with her two kids and another kid-friend and we got three slushes for three bucks all because each coupon was for a one dollar slush (large also). We also got three large popcorn and two soda. My total bill was about $20.00. I remember this because I had $40.00 ready for the cashier and when I got the cost I was kind of blown away at how cheap it was. She is a pro at using coupons.

  27. ansjc09 says:

    My boyfriend and I will go to the local 2nd-run movie theatre. Yes, the movies have already been out for about a month or more, but we pay $6 a ticket and the medium popcorn and soda is $6 in total. So, we pay $18 in total to see an “older” movie or can pay $27+ to see the movie in the first couples weeks, which we occasionally do as well. I like supporting the 2nd run theatre because the money stays local as it is run by a family.

  28. milkcake says:

    I stopped going to the theater for many reasons but the two of them are:

    1) Popcorns and Soda are too expensive
    2) The floors are sticky and the whole place is dirty

    So… according to this owner, he is having problem 1 to solve problem 2. But my experience tells me that:
    Expensive popcorn =/ Clean Theater.

    • ganon446 says:

      The owner is hoping that pop corn would be a luxury for those who can afford it and for someone who can afford luxuries they would fail to throw it all over the place.

  29. AttackCat says:

    I make my own movies at home…oh..wait…did I say that out loud?

  30. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    The part that people seem to forget is that movies cannot exist without theaters to show them in. It’s a highly symbiotic relationship.

    So every time I hear a theater owner cry about not getting enough of the take and as such they’re forced to charge us $8 for a quarter’s worth of popcorn I really cannot muster any sympathy. They do it cause it’s a lot easier than demanding more from the studios that 100% rely upon them to show their movies. Maybe it’s time the National Association of Theatre Owners got off their asses and stood up to the studios to demand more money for their clients instead of continually shafting the movie-going public with more and more commercials and ridiculously-priced concessions, not to mention their absolute refusal to enforce any kind of decorum in their theaters beyond the cursory sweep for video cameras.

    And as usual, they continue to get away with it cause stupid people keep giving them money.

  31. Straspey says:

    What amazes me is the astounding amount of “poison-as-food” that people will gladly eat – which they would never dream of consuming in their own home – or most other places for that matter.

    When was the last time you said, “Hey Honey – Why don’t we have a huge plate of Nachos, smothered in warm Velveeta and hot dogs for dinner ? I can pick up a few gallons of soda – and then maybe we can have a box of Goobers for desert ?”

    But then again – that sounds like the perfect fare to dull the brain after you’ve paid $12.00 for the privilege of sitting in a dark theater for two hours watching commercials, previews and then a feature such as “21 Jump Street”.

  32. Mambru says:

    Costco now sells tickets for AMC and Regal at $8 dollar each (2 for 15.95) is a great alternative to 10.25 on a weekend. I’m on the side that refuses to eat overpriced stale pop corn at the movies

  33. ianmac47 says:

    Theaters need to reevaluate their business model. Higher prices mean more profit per customer, but at some point, drives enough customers away that there is less profit overall. The run up in ticket prices along with concessions has probably tipped into the latter category where each customer is generating more revenue but has made the theatrical experience too expensive to profit through volume. Movies are available on demand, on subscription, on itunes and Amazon, and DVD all while other avenues of entertainment like video games consume time and money. A night at the movies is no longer some sort of affordable night out.

  34. SmokeyBacon says:

    Ok, I think I might be in the minority but I would rather pay more for concessions and less for tickets because to me most of Hollywood (meaning the actors, directors, studio execs, etc) are WAY overpaid for what they do. I know that there are also low paying jobs in their industry too – and I am not talking about those. But no way in hell does any actor deserve to get millions of dollars for the work they do. Most movies are absolute crap lately anyway (or even the good ones are just a redo of an older movie/play/idea).

  35. Krazycalvin says:

    I completely respect what the theater owner is saying. People can’t be respectable anymore and have an attitude that somebody is always going to clean up after you regardless. This mentality causes a whole herd of ushers to have to go clear the place after the herd leaves. And then even after all the cups and popcorn that is left in the theater there are still people throwing the stuff down in the parking lot. I am a hypocrite though… I acted that way as a kid before I moved out on my own and grew up a little.

  36. mcgyver210 says:

    Don’t let the theaters fool any of you they are like any business. They run based on profit they are not a charity by any stretch. The studios are making way too much money from all sides & it is true they don’t share the profits as they should but the theaters are making money.

    The theaters are the same as the studios in that they don’t pay a fair amount to actually keep the theaters clean anyway. They want someone to come in with 60k or more worth of equipment & clean coke syrup etc up for peanuts.

  37. Andy says:

    I take out all my garbage every time I go to a theater. When the janitors are standing there waiting for the theater to clear out, I look at least one of them in the eyes, put my trash in the can and say, “thank you for a great presentation”

    I don’t care how bad the movie is, it’s just being nice. I enjoy being nice. I don’t care how screwed over I feel at a movie these days, and I don’t expect someone to pick up my trash. I can handle it on my own.

    That said, I’ve been sneaking in sodas to the movies lately. I just can’t afford both corn and soda.

    Closing thought, if movie theaters loose so much money in the box offices to the movie industry, why not LOWER the box office prices so theater goers would be enticed to coming to the theaters more often? If there’s one thing business has taught me, it’s that lower prices drive people to you, not higher.

  38. Zydia says:

    Hollywood seems to churn out maybe 2 a year I want to watch anyways, so that keeps down costs for me.

  39. ronbo97 says:

    Since I won’t patronize the concessions in theatres, and therefore don’t mess up the floor, can you give me a discount on my ticket ?

    How will the concession stands know if I’ve opted out ? Issue a wrist band when I buy my ticket if I choose to partake.

  40. RandomHookup says:

    Free popcorn & $7 sodas.

  41. dilbert69 says:

    This is such crap. Things cost what they cost because that’s what the market will bear. Of course, forbidding outside food makes it anything but a free market, but if you’re clever you can sneak in your own snacks anyway.

  42. Brian Cooks says:

    Vote with your dollars. I go to a movie theater that will let me order fresh donuts, pizza, and custom coffee instead of or in addition to revolting theater popcorn and soda and stale candy.

  43. clydesplace says:

    According to this guy, if you take overall ticket receipts for all movies during a year, theater owners are making a lot more than they claim they are off of admission:

  44. red says:

    Theater owners are in a hard spot. The niche premier theaters have a good thing going.

    The following scenario would require a will of steel, discipline, and principle: If all the theaters banded together and refused to show any new release until they got a percentage of the ticket, studios would surely comply or their scheduling/profit would be ruined. That, or refuse to sign a renewal with the theater. But if the theaters held together and didn’t break, that means the studio would be unable to sign ANY renewals, and thus, be screwed and have to comply.

  45. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Especially since I’m unemployed and money is tight, I just eat before or after I go and skip the concession stand. I probably won’t be going to the movies much; unemployment is only a little more than half what I was making. And the cheap theater is all the way across town, so gas prices effectively obliterate any savings I would get by going there. :(

  46. Dr.Wang says:

    Of course this doesn’t explain the cost of showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I NEVER buy food/drink at the theater.

  47. Aliciaz777 says:

    When I worked at a movie theater as a teenager, I HATED when I had usher duty, as I was responsible for cleaning the theaters after a movie. One thing I learned is that people are freakin slobs! Food would be everywhere, it was disgusting! I know for a fact the majority of these people would never be like that in their own homes, but they have no problem doing it while at the movies because, hey, they’re not the ones having to clean it up! My scoliosis and back problems in general were made worse because of that job due to me having to bend down all the time to clean under the seats. One time while working the podium collecting tickets, a pregnant lady threatened me because I told her she couldn’t bring her Chinese food into the theater. I mean come on, no outside food in theaters has been a rule for a long time now, and I think that bitch thought I’d give in because of my petite size, like she could intimidate me. I stared her down and she got so mad she threw her food all over my podium like a child throwing a tantrum. Security had to escort her out because she was acting so awful.

    Working in a movie theater just isn’t worth it.

  48. tooluser says:

    Yet another whiny small business owner. If you don’t like the franchise terms then you should close up shop and try something else.

  49. brokekid says:

    I used to clean theaters right out of college. I got paid very little to run a leaf blower up and down the aisle and to mop up any large spills. Hard to see how that had any effect on the cost of concessions.

  50. wkm001 says:

    I love it when I sit in the seat only to feel my shoe slowly sliding across the floor. No one cleans the theater floors in my entire town and we have at least four theaters.

  51. Sean says:

    Most people don’t know this, but most of the big chain theaters are owned by the movie studios.

    Slightly off topic
    Also search for articles on the accounting shenanigans that movie studios pull to have a movie show on the books as making a huge loss. Oversimplified example: studio makes a movie and spends $100 million. Distribution company under same parent company charges studio $500 million to distribute movie. Movie’s total take at the box office is $450 million so the parent company is showing a loss on the movie of $150 million.

  52. jnl says:

    I am in my 60’s and, from the age of a child, I never bought any food in a theater because of the food prices. I simply bought a candy bar before going and stuck it in my pocket; that was filling for a two hour movie stretch.
    I do realize that the movie industry is raking off more of the admissions leaving the theater owner with less revenue except for the food they sell. Like some others suggested, I think the big theaters need to stand up to the movie industry and refuse to pay- shut their theaters down for a week in protest- or whatever it takes . The fat cats in Hollywood and the movie stars make so much money they don’t know what to do with it but to live lavish lives! Theater owners- BOYCOTT!

  53. Talisker says:

    Television shows only exist to keep you tuned in between the commercials.

    Apparently movie theaters are actually just popcorn stores and only play movies to bring you in to the concession stands.

  54. booboloo says:

    gotta give it to him, the sticky seats they have to clean up from spills and candy and the rest…people eat like pigs at theaters.

  55. hahatanka says:

    I used to work for one of the big four movie chains, in the accounting dept. They bleed money. Liquor & food are what they’re betting will save them. Ticket sales barely cover paying the studio.
    They made more money off of people losing their gift cards than ticket sales.
    It’s a dying industry. But over-priced bland food and drinks won’t save them. Crappy movies won’t help.
    However I refuse to watch Ben-Hur on my TV. But my local revival house went out of business. No more 50 Foot screen.

  56. ganon446 says:

    This makes sense too me for all those people who come into the theater and forget their manners it actually costs money to redo those seats and clean them as well as paying someone an hourly wage with various other costs which makes employing someone in the United States a dreadful task.

    Basically what he is doing is off setting the cost of food that people carelessly eat and destroy that persons theater. Keep in mind small buisnesses do not have the funds like major chains like AMC.

    Also all that food and dirt you risk having your threater closed for public health reasons.

    I support these new “Adult” theaters opening up. One where you can dine in and eat like your at a resturant but your in a theater.