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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 28, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Expensive movie snacks: An experiment

So I was at the movies the other day, at a theater in the Regal chain, and waited in line to buy popcorn and Diet Coke, because a movie just isn’t a movie without them. The line was slow and I looked at the various “combo” offers, chose the one with the medium popcorn/medium drink — and then realized, doing the math, that the combo cost exactly as much as ordering the items separately. I saved some small change (very small) and got the smaller drink (the medium one looked like you could bathe a baby in it, albeit a rather sticky one), and thought about the psychology of the thing. We assume, when we see a combo offer, that it’s a better deal than buying the items separately; it seems implicit in the advertising. But, at this location anyway, it wasn’t.
So, if any of you are out and about at the multiplexes lately (two words: air conditioning), do me a favor: Check out the prices, and tell me if there’s anything that actually saves a little money. (Landmark theaters, last time I checked, didn’t do the combo-offer thing. I think their concessions are a little less expensive than the bigger chain multiplexes, but haven’t done a comparison lately.) I know that the reality of the movie business means that theaters need to make their money on popcorn and cold drinks, but I’m curious who’s charging what. I’ll keep an eye on it in my next few movie outings, and it would be great if you could too.
OK, now I really want some popcorn.

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