We all know how expensive cinema snacks can be, a bag of popcorn can sometimes cost you more than a ticket, which is why one man has decided to sue his local cinema for their overpriced movie snacks.
We all know we don’t have to buy these expensive snacks, but as soon as you walk into the cinema the sweet smell of warm popcorn wafts your way and Ben and Jerry begin beckoning you over to their ice cream counter…
We’ve all been there, we’ve all been tempted.
But enough was enough for Joshua Thompson from Michigan, who was outraged after being charged $8 (roughly a fiver) for a small pack of sweets and a Coke. Thompson is planning to sue AMC cinemas in an attempt to bring down the price of snacks across all of their businesses.
After doing some research, it was discovered that the same fizzy drink and pack of Goober sweets were being sold at just a third of the price at a nearby store.
The Mail Online reported this statement from Thompson’s lawyer: ‘He got tired of being taken advantage of. It’s hard to justify prices that are three- and four-times higher than anywhere else.’
The security technician – who used to bring in his own snacks until the cinema complex posted a sign banning the practice – has filed papers to sue his local AMC cinema in Wayne County Circuit Court. He hopes it will have a state-wide effect.
This isn’t the first time cinemas have banned their customers from bringing in their own snacks. Cinemas in Kent and Cumbria began checking people’s bags upon entering a screening. A similar story even reached the nationals; the Mail reported that a cinema in Stockport would not allow a cinema-goer into a screening because he had brought his own snacks. Adam Glennon, a postman from Cheshire, bought a 170g tub of Pringles a family sized pack of M&Ms, a small coke, a bottle of water and a small tub of Ben and Jerry’s. At his local shop, this cost him less than £5, but it racked up to £11.70 at the cinema.
Do you think you know your popcorn? This sweet treat seems to have a very sour price across every single cinema. Here are the prices from the top three most expensive popcorn vendors (according to figures by the BBC Watchdog):
For a small-sized portion of sweet popcorn, Vue charges the least at a mere £4.70 per box, which is £3.15 per 100g. In second place comes the Odeon, who price their boxes of popcorn at £3.95 which is £5.27 per 100g. While Cineworld is the clear winner of the most expensive popcorn vendor; their popcorn racks up to a whopping £6.35 per 100g.
You can buy popcorn at around 20 pence per 100g; if cinemas are buying it at this price and selling it on at around £4.00, that’s an estimated 1200% markup! It was reported by the BBC Watchdog that film journalist, Charles Gant, believes that large cinema chains can get their popcorn even cheaper than this, consequently reaching higher profit margins. However, he said cinemas rely on gaining profit from snacks because the ticket prices do not cover the costs of the business alone.
If you fancy a home-cinema experience, here are some of the cheapest bags of popcorn on the market. Tesco sell their own toffee popcorn for £1 per 200g pack which works out at just £0.50 per 100g. Sainsbury’s own toffee popcorn costs just £0.44 per 100g, while Asda is the winner by far; they sell their own Kernels for £2.50 per 1kg pack which works out at a tiny 21 pence per 100g.
The fact that Asda still seems to be able to make a profit from selling their popcorn at just £2.50, really puts it in perspective about how much cinemas are profiting from just a handful of corn.
We may not like the extortionate prices of popcorn, but at least these cinemas are allowing film-goers to eat while watching a film. The London Evening Standard reported back in 2008 that Picturehouse Cinemas was planning to bring in popcorn-free screenings.
The head of media at Picturehouse was reported saying: “Lots of people absolutely hate it and have asked us to ban it, so we’re going to do exactly that.”
Other cinema complexes, including The Tricycle cinema and theatre in Kilburn, have already jumped on the bandwagon by banning popcorn from all of their screenings, because according to The Tricycle’s artistic director, ‘it makes huge amounts of mess, and it distracts and annoys people intensely’. He added that ‘Popcorn is horrible stuff and I won’t have it anywhere near my cinema’.
Not only is it ‘horrible stuff’, but some managers feel that the snack isn’t sophisticated enough for their cinema. The Mail Online reported that Everyman Cinema Club banned popcorn from 17 of their venues and instead, offers classy made-to-order canapés and a waiter service.
Strict rules are still in place at BFI IMAX Theatres, which also ban food from their screenings. But just to make sure you’re not sneaking anything in, one of their house rules, according to their website, is to carry out a bag check ‘for the safety of our staff and visitors’.