Movies and Concessions – Survey Says

 I thought  it would be fun to introduce you to the world of theaters and concessions. When did it all start? How did it evolve? 

Let us take a trip back to the early years of the 20th century. Vaudeville and stage performances ruled the day. In June 1905, the Harris Brothers opened the very first Nickelodeon Theater in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The name came partially from the Greek word “odeion” meaning “roofed over theater”. Of course, the word “nickel” preceded it since it cost 5 cents to enter. Because technology had not yet advanced to the synchronized sound era (this was not until the mid to late 1920’s), the serious Nickelodeons had organs or pianos that someone would sit at and add music that they felt would enhance the scene showing at the moment. 

They did not offer concessions. However, many sellers hawked their peanuts and popcorn either right outside the doors, or as allowed, would march up and down the aisles with goods in hand ready to sell their delightful wares at the asking price. Many other entrepreneurs would open food businesses surrounding the theater hoping people would enjoy their food services either before or after the movies. As with all great things, the Nickelodeon era soon ended with the growth of cities and industry giving rise to improved theaters. When the nickelodeons started dying out, they actually started becoming hostile to the “food environment”, thinking that ticket sales were being hurt by it!

Moving into the 1920’s, the movie era reached a new height; with people pouring millions of dollars into building new and upscale “houses” rivaling the European opera houses. One of these built during this era, would be Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. Alas, the owners still had not caught on to what would become the boom of the business in latter years known as the concession stand.

When it did come about, things rapidly changed. Let us fast forward to present day USA. It is reported that 40% of sales come from concession. It is also reported that the mark-up costs are at about 300%, which I think most of us agree with! This leads to a survey that I recently conducted.

Since it is obvious that the theaters  have too high of a mark up (or as some prefer to call it, a “rip off”), is it wrong, or okay to sneak your own concession stand into the theater?

And the survey says….

90% stated that they just couldn’t afford the prices of the tickets AND the snacks

90% take in their own snacks and no one feels guilty about it. The 10% who do not sneak it in, obviously do not because they feel that it is wrong.

As for the theaters themselves being morally wrong for charging such exorbitant prices: 90% feel this is true, with 10% feeling they have a right to charge as they please

100% agreed that if they would lower their prices, fewer people would sneak food in, and everyone would benefit (with 40% flat out stating that the movie owners are just plain greedy)

40% do it because there are no signs, or rules stating that they cannot, therefore, it is not really “sneaking” it in

30% do it because they do not care for the food offered there, or because the food they like is not offered there at all (or because Icees melt in your pocket!). 

10% stated that if caught, they would stuff everything into their mouth to hide the evidence! That would be more difficult if it was the person that admitted to sneaking in two pounds of candy at once!

20% do not mind paying the prices for popcorn. Some do it because they go to the movies so seldom that it is a treat out and want to fully enjoy it and “theater popcorn is the best”.

20% actually eat first, then go and still purchase a drink and popcorn to share               

A couple of other thoughts people had: 

They are only hurting themselves by charging such high prices

They play movies, they are not a convenience store

So,  here it is in all its glory, the history and news of the movie concession world. It is obvious that the U.S.A. does not consider bringing in your own snacks as “sneaking”. So enjoy!

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