The next movie I plan on seeing is The Hunger Games. I will purchase a small bag of popcorn costing around $4.50 and probably a small fountain soda at $4, give or take a few cents. The total will be a whopping $8.50. There’s no doubt about it, I will definitely complain about this, but I will nonetheless snack and enjoy the movie.
We’ve all had to deal with the burden of over-priced movie concessions at one point or another. The same burden exists at sporting events, amusement parks, and concerts. Such events have a duty to make a profit; therefore, outside food and beverages are typically banned so that individuals are forced to buy their snacks from event vendors.
Let’s observe a hypothetical family of four who, for the sake of keeping things simple, each order a small bag of popcorn, a small soda and a box of candy (price estimate, $3.50). The four popcorns total $18. The drinks add up to $16 and candy boxes, $14. Dad then takes out his American Express card to pay and $48 disappears from his bank account.
These prices are indeed outrageous and unfair, especially when you could get the same snacks at the CVS down the street for under $20.
Michigan resident Joshua Thompson took matters into his own hands after buying a Coke and Nestle Goobers candy for $8 at an AMC theatre, angered by the refreshment prices. In hopes of a state-wide decrease in snack prices, the man later sued the theatre for over-charging its customers.
That’s the problem with today’s society. We all think we’re just entitled to whatever we want. Even if prices dropped, someone would find another reason to complain. Moreover, no one is forcing these snacks down customers’ throats. Purchasing refreshments is not mandatory, and if you don’t like the prices, you have the right to not buy them. There’s a reason why concession stand snacks are so expensive, and it’s not because the movies want to selfishly rip you off completely, as many currently believe.
Junior Business Administration major Joe Pugliese, a supervisor at Atrium Stadium Cinema in Staten Island, NY, explains the reason for such high prices. According to Pugliese, the majority of ticket sales go to the movie production and distribution companies, not the theatre.
Within the first week of a showing, the theatre is allowed to keep around 25% of ticket sales profit or less, according to theaterseat.org. EconWeekly says that distributors sometimes even split the revenue 90:10 during the first week and decrease this amount every week that follows to 80:20, 70:30 and so on. Such splits are called sliding percentages. All in all, theatres do not come out ahead and must make a profit elsewhere. They turn to selling high-calorie refreshments that taste good and please movie-goers. After all, America excels in eating. Additionally, the theatre keeps 100% of snack profits.
“I think ticket prices are fair, but concessions are still too high”, says Pugliese. “The popcorn is worth the price because it’s fresh, but I won’t buy drinks”.
All things considered, it’s necessary for such high prices to exist, as unfair as it may seem. In reality, if food costs decrease, ticket prices would skyrocket. The theatre must stay afloat if you want to have the treat of going to the movies. Otherwise, you’d be stuck with watching movies on your couch in DVD format on a much smaller screen.
So look at it this way: a movie theatre is essentially a junk food restaurant that happens to feature a movie. If you’re in the snacking mood, suck it up and pay the price. If you’re still unable to get past the prices, wait and rent it from Redbox.