/ Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

Sky-high cinema snack prices – do they leave a bad taste?


When I went to the cinema last week, I knew two things – one, that it would be hard to take Ryan Reynolds seriously in a gritty thriller – and two, that the cinema snacks would be overpriced.

So, I was interested to read the case of Joshua Thompson, who is suing his local AMC. This American cinema chain has banned the consumption of food and drinks bought elsewhere, and charged Joshua $8 for a coke and a packet of Goobers chocolate-covered peanuts – nearly three times the $2.73 he would have paid at a nearby fast food restaurant.

Suing your cinema may be a step too far, but it does make you wonder how cinema chains have reached these over-inflated prices.

Corn blimey, that’s expensive

Cinemas are obliged to split any revenue from ticket sales with the film studios, but the money they make from selling food is all theirs to keep. Therefore, although snacks make up 20% of a cinema’s revenue, they bring in 40% of its profits. In fact, a box of popcorn apparently brings in a not-insubstantial 85% profit for cinemas.

Now, popcorn isn’t the most complex or expensive snack to prepare – heat up some corn kernels and add sugar or salt, depending on your preference (sugary for me, please!). And with the bulk quantities cinemas buy, the cost of kernels will be cheaper than you or I could get.

So it seems a little unfair we’re being charged this big a mark-up to indulge our sweet tooth, and cinemas are so adamantly against you bringing your own.

Do snacks subsidise ticket prices?

So why do they do it? Cinemas seem to charge on the basis that they would otherwise make a loss if their profits were based on ticket sales alone – and it’s even been suggested that the high price of popcorn actually benefits cinema goers by holding down the price of the ticket.

But I still think tickets are expensive enough to warrant a little scrimping on food and drink. And let’s not forget that, as our research shows, the average cinema snack is very calorific – should we be vilified for taking a healthy option, like fruit?

Of course, the easy answer is to not buy snacks at all – no-one’s forcing you to. But if you’re partial to popcorn with your movie experience, it would be good not to feel ripped off as a result. After all, if cinema chains are as keen to avoid people bringing in their own food as they seem to be, then maintaining such high prices can’t be the most persuasive approach.

If cinema snacks remain so expensive, I may be forced to risk ‘smuggling’ in my snacks from a nearby supermarket instead. Do you think the prices charged for cinema snacks are fair?

How do you buy your cinema snacks?

I bring snacks into the cinema from outside (48%, 86 Votes)

I don't eat snacks in the cinema (40%, 72 Votes)

I buy snacks from the cinema itself (12%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 179

Loading ... Loading ...
Profile photo of wavechange

Considering that many adults are overweight or obese and many children are heading for the same problem, why should we eat or drink while we are watching a film for a couple of hours?

Springheeledjim says:
3 years 6 months ago

I’ve come over to this thread to let off steam ( I’ve been getting very irate with some idiots on another one ) and also to say that ( this time ) I completely agree with the post. Cinema snacks are ridiculously priced.

It’s not our fault if they don’t make enough money from the film rights; they should negotiate harder with the distributors.

There is no way I’m paying £20 for snacks ( I have two kids, so if the three of us go then it’s at least two big tubs of popcorn and two large drinks ) when I’m already paying the same for the cinema tickets.

I buy a couple of cans and some bagged sweets from the supermarket ( less than £5 all told ) and smuggle them in. And I’ll continue to do so until cinema chains make their snack pricing reasonable.

And now I’ll go back to the other thread where people are complaining about being ripped off by supermarkets. Seriously, when it comes to rip offs cinemas are the real experts. Well, cinemas and motorway services…..