Cinematic Cuisine

The other night I had lightning strike my brain. No, not literally. I mean that I had an idea, and its a whopper.

I love going to see movies at the theater. There is just something about the big screen and even the crowd (when they aren’t doing annoying things like talking loudly or text messaging) that I enjoy. And while I think ticket prices are outrageous, I’ve learned to modify my habits to get a better deal. AMC does $5 tickets for shows before noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One thing I don’t like about going to the theater is the food.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love having a bucket of popcorn, candy and a soda at the movies. But the prices are so insane that I will only buy something when I’ve got coupons that reduce the cost down to a more manageable level, or I just have the wife bring candy and sodas in her purse.

I’ve learned over the years that mostly this is because theaters make diddly squat from their box office and rely heavily on their concessions for revenue. This is where my big idea comes in…

Rather than have a couple of overpriced counters of undersized candy and a sprawling game room filled with games nobody plays, why not lease out space to food and candy shops?

The most obvious benefit is that the theaters could set lease agreements to make the space profitable, modify rent as needed. Next, they’d be able to cut their own overhead by reducing staff. A little healthy competition between 3 or 4 food/candy vendors would probably do the customers some good. Lower prices would mean more people willing to pay for snacks, and probably more revenue (trying to explain the “lower prices = more money” concept to some business people is infuriating though) for the stores. Better and more affordable food selection might even increase ticket sales since it might make a night out at the movies a little more enjoyable.

Really, I just don’t see why this couldn’t work out well for the theaters. Someone, please explain it to me if I’m completely bonkers…

One comment

  1. Chas says:

    Ah… I’ve had the luxury of one of the finest little dinner movie theatres in Pennsylvania at my disposal here. Granted, it’s not an IMAX… just one of those small 2-screen second-run theatre artifcats that usually went bankrupt when the megaplexes came through town. Heck, he even has HALF that seating, since he’s replaced every other row with dining benches.

    The place has the usual popcorn fare, but also a grill for some of the best movie dining around: sandwiches, wraps, salads, cheesecake, ben&jerry’s ice cream, “gobs,” you name it. If you’re free for lunch, $11 gets you a movie, sandwich, side, drink, & popcorn. In the evening, “the Great Cheap Date” of $29 gets you all that for two with free drink & popcorn refills.

    You place your order, get a little colored candle to put at your seat, then they bring it all out to you.

    It’s a nice system that probably wouldn’t scale too well, I guess.

    As I understand it, concessions are the main money-maker for a movie theatre, not the admission. It would be an interesting challenge to change to a leased model…

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