Movie theater popcorn cost inflation
This weekend I took my daughter to see "The Lorax" a children's movie based on the popular Dr. Seuss book. This is not a movie review, but I will say, if you have children in Dr. Suess age range, this is a great movie to watch. As good as the movie was, the cost of the snack items at the concession stand was not.
I do not think it will be a surprise to anyone who has been to a movie theater in the last 10 years to find out the cost of your "munchies" at the snack stand is really inflated. Barring telling my child she cannot order anything, avoiding this costly expense is nearly impossible. But how inflated are the prices? Lets take a look at my weekend price roundup for movie snacks.
I purposely ordered only for my daughter on this outing for the sake of this post, she wanted popcorn and a soft-drink and my total came to an astounding $8.25 plus tax for these two items. I don't consider myself a cheap person, and at times I may even be considered frugal, but eight dollars for a small bag of popcorn and a 12oz drink as a combo seems really high. But how high...
The table below shows the cost of popcorn between 1929-2012. This data was pulled from multiple sources online, as you can see from the sparse table below, popcorn historical cost is not an easy number to locate outside of a select few years. Costs associated with 2012 are a product of me calling three different theaters in a 50 mile radius of my home located in Florida, and two theaters in Nevada.
Historical view of movie theater popcorn cost
|Year||Cost||Cost w/Inflation||Annual Change|
Now for the why. Movie theaters will have you believe that it is the only way that they make a profit. Now it is true that in the first weeks of a new movie opening they most likely will end up paying the movie studios 70%+ of the profit from ticket sales and as you move further away from the opening date of a movie, that percentage rate shrinks based on contractual agreements between theater owners and studios.
In addition to ticket sales, theaters profit from onscreen advertising, movie preview contracts and in my local area they offer programs for hosting events and parties. I believe that they should profit from selling concession items also, I just don't agree to the excessive markup on the items for the sake of pure profit.
My resolution is to avoid buying concession items when I can. Yes, I am one of those people who will put a $1 candy bar in my pocket and carry it in to avoid having to pay $4.50 for it in the theater.