Friday, November 21, 2008

Movie Theater Food 911: How Can It Be Salvaged?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 5:05 AM

click to enlarge popcorn_bowl.jpg

Perhaps you'll see a film over this pre-holiday weekend, and perhaps you'll pay $4 for sub-optimal popcorn. That in itself doesn't especially irritate me. No, that's the role of the $4 soft drink and $4 candy, for a total of $12 for a snack worth about $3.50 at retail.

If the food were any good, maybe the price wouldn't be an issue. But the candy selection is infantile. The soft drinks are never mixed right and are either syrupy or weak or taste like the stuff that cleans the tubes. I have personally witnessed the unloading of giant bags of pre-popped corn at a local theater. It tasted like it was trucked in from California after a long boat ride from China.

Are you one of those people who skips the whole issue by taking your own treats? If so, Cinematical has a thought for you, which is that movie theaters aren't in the entertainment business; they're in the concessions business, so please buy concessions.

There are definitely two sides to the story. The theater deserves to make a profit. Theatergoers deserve to vote with their wallets, especially at a time like this. I worry a little that some theaters won't make it through the downturn, if it's true that 80 percent of profits come from concessions. That's a lot to ask of stale pretzels.

(After the jump, 8 ways to improve movie theater food.)

In to the fray comes the blogger Screen Junkies, with a list of eight ways to improve movie theater food. I'll crib-n-paraphrase the list here for space reasons.

* Serve better food. Why would someone pay $7 for a cardboard pizza when they could eat a really good $8 pizza before or after the show?

* Charge less for it.

* Change it up a little because everything from snacks to candy follows the same formula.

* Offer a decent cup of coffee.

* Serve beer.

* Stock candies and snacks with quieter wrappers.

* Place more trash cans around.

* Offer great popcorn.

Since Mr. Pink has forgotten more about movie theater food than I'll ever know, I invite him to offer the first thought. Then everyone pile on!

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