29 July 2002
On our way to see Goldmember, Rob and I stopped
at Whole Foods to pick up a sandwich and
a can of iced tea to share - $4.95 for the
sandwich and $2.00 for the tea. The cashier
cannily remarked, "Going to the movies?"
She went on to tell us, "Last time I
went they wanted to search my purse. Of course
I didn't let them. I had a bag of little
carrots in there. They bust you if you don't
buy their food. It's the main way they make
money, you know."
I like Whole Foods. It's a great subculture.
I thought about stuffing little carrots into
tampon holders and some hummus in an old
lotion bottle, but gave it up since the sandwich
was already bought. I stuffed our veggie
sandwich and the can of tea in the bottom
of my purse and piled (packaged) tampons
over them. I figured that would discourage
It seems to be true that the big film theatre
chains make most of their revenue from snacks.
According to an article from Eye:
"Both Lebo [Executive Director of the
Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada]
and Fraser [Joanne Fraser, Vice-President
of Corporate Affairs for Famous Players]
acknowledge that theatres make most of their
money from the snack bar. We asked for a
breakdown of admissions vs. snack bar vs.
other sources of revenue, but Fraser refused
The problem is not the revenue source but
the fact that the snacks are nasty. One would
think that with the growing criticism (and
recent lawsuit) of fast food restaurants for contributing
to the obesity of millions of Amercans would
be enough to send the message, but apparently
not. A big bag of buttered popcorn is worth
about 1760 calories and 137 grams of fat. And if popcorn butter fumes are ruining factory workers' lungs, what does it do to movie theatre workers?
The first argument the movie chains will
make against healthy food in theatres is
that nobody wants it. So why is that guy
searching my purse? The second argument is
money. Myth suggests that healthy food costs
more than junk food, so serving healthy food
hurts the poor. Oh, behave. If a poor person
is willing to spend $6.95 for popcorn and
a Coke, I bet they can afford a bag of carrots,
or even a veggie burrito (proudly served
by some independent theatres in Santa Cruz).
A pal in Market Research told me a few years
ago that fast food companies used the same
excuses. I bet they're re-thinking.
I love the movies. I go see movies almost
indiscriminately. I don't want AMC or Century
Theatres to disappear. But until they get
some decent food in there, I'm packin'. Maybe
if they find enough squashed avocados among
the tampons in people's purses, the movies
will get a clue.