Why Movie Theater Food is So Expensive


Grace Schuler, Senior Contributor

Going to the movie theater is an experience. The big screen, the surround sound, and the smell of a $7.00 medium sized bag of popcorn. That is not to mention the soft drink prices (about $4.85 for those wondering). Most either go without food or resort to smuggling their own in a large bag or jacket. To be truthful, I have done the latter many times. But why are movie theater concessions so expensive? It is actually more out of necessity than greed.

Research from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of California says that although concessions are about 20% of theater’s gross revenue, they make up upwards of 40% of the theater’s profits. This is because when a theater shows a film, part of the money made from selling the tickets must go to the movie distributors, while 100% of the profit from concessions stay with the theater.

The study also states that theaters charge high concessions prices in order to keep the cost of the ticket lower. People are more likely to pay a higher price for a secondary item (concessions) than they are for a primary item (ticket). This leads to more people going to the movie in general and an additional profit for those willing to pay for the extra goodies. Additionally, theaters keep the prices of tickets lower thinking that maybe the avid movie-goer is willing to pay a little more for a ticket, but the general public is not.

Now that we know the truth behind those over the top prices, maybe paying a little extra for snacks at your local theater wouldn’t break the bank; because by doing so, you’d be supporting local business! Or, if you’re like me, you can sneak in an entire salad and a drink!