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Ah, Regal, AMC, and all you other big cinemas, I loved you well . . .

. . . until you turned to highway robbery.

Now let me say flat out, I have always loved going to the movies. To me it is the biggest treat to watch a film on a huge screen, with a big bag of popcorn to munch on, and a soda. But I have to say that my trip to the cinema last week has cooled my love affair with going to the movies. No, let me rephrase that: we are over. Done. Finished. At least for the time being.

There is something about walking into the theater and shaking your head over the fact that you just laid out $21 for two kids and an adult to see a matinee. Not Friday night. Not Saturday night.  Friday at noon. $21 freakin’ bucks.  But the shake-down had only just begun. Because after we ordered popcorn and sodas, the grand total of which came to $32. Yes, $32 for just the concessions.  2 popcorns, 3 sodas, and one candy. $32. Explain to me how that should be legal, not to mention moral. Of course I paid it, you might argue, and yes I did. But have you noticed how they don’t post the prices for concessions anymore?  They just show you the combos, let you order and then hit you with the final tab–without blinking an eye that they’ve just marked up the price of corn by probably a thousand percent.  As I walked through the multiplex, I no longer had that happy anticipation of going to the movies, quite frankly I felt like I’d been ripped off. Almost moreso than the day I watched my WaMu stock evaporate before my very eyes.

And that feeling stuck with me during the entire movie.  However can they charge such exorbitant prices for freakin’ popcorn and soda?  It isn’t right, no, it’s robbery. But I do have a choice, I can stay home, and quite frankly in this economy and with the holidays coming, I can think of a lot of other things I can do with $53 dollars other than going to the movies.  Things that will last and not leave a sour feeling in my gut. Goodness sakes, I could fill a shopping cart with soda and popcorn with that amount of money.

What makes me shake my head over all this, is the sense that the corporate wonks who set all these prices don’t seem to realize they are pricing themselves right out of business. That they are making consumers feel not that happy glow over seeing our favorite stars, but soured to the point of not enjoying the movie because of the niggling sense of having had someone just pick your pocket clean. Fine, set the ticket prices a little higher, but please don’t make my popcorn and soda so outrageous that I have to resort to my new catchphrase: I won’t be back.

What do you think? Are the movie prices fair? Are you going to the movies less because of the prices?

11 comments to “Ah, Regal, AMC, and all you other big cinemas, I loved you well . . .”

  1. Lois
    October 27th, 2008 at 6:09 am · Link

    We’ve always went to the movies rarely anyway, maybe every couple years on average, but I’ve only ever remembered going to the matinées. . . I don’t know how much they’ve changed since Star Wars Episode III. . . as for the food, we haven’t gotten any popcorn or the like for even longer. 🙂


  2. Sarah K
    October 27th, 2008 at 8:28 pm · Link

    I feel as though I haven’t been to the movies in ages, but I know I was there for Mamma Mia…maybe something since. I’m not sure if i go to the movies any less due to the costs in general. I know I go less because there aren’t movies out that I’d be willing to pay that much to see. When I do go to the movies, I purchase the premium passes at Costco beforehand – you get two tickets for $15, which are good for anytime (so to get the most out of the money, go on Friday or Saturday evenings) . With the concessions, I get the kid’s pack (though they have since renamed it the snack pack) – you get just enough popcorn for one and a kid’s meal size drink, for about $5. For those extra thirsty people, ask for a courtesy cup filled with water. I’m sure that there are other frugal ways to go to the theatre, but then I’d have to start factoring the cost of gas and my time.

  3. Julie
    October 27th, 2008 at 9:07 pm · Link

    I totally agree!

    I LOVE going to the movies and go all the time however I have learned to avoid the theater chains. I go to a local theater in a small town nearby. The drive is a little longer than going to another theater but the matinee is $3 and after 6:00 it is only $4.50. Go local; it is always better.

    PS: Elizabeth, I love your books! I cannot wait for Pippin and Dash’s book. Yay!

  4. therese
    October 27th, 2008 at 10:46 pm · Link

    OK, I am also on the same page. Movie’s would always give me a headache because I am light sensitive but there was something so special about the ambiance of the theatre and the indulgence of butter dripping off my fingers while munching popcorn. It was so cool that I embraced the headache time and again, carting sunglasses and shading my eyes with both hands while walking to the parking lot.

    That was before the days of big screen TV’s and Orville Reddenbakker but still, I loved the movie experience – until lately. The screens aren’t larger than life anymore, the surround sound is too loud, the chairs suck, the concessions outrageously priced. I’m old enough now to know that the actual movie isn’t going to change that much from its opening debut in theatres to when it’s released on DVD a year later. I can wait and hit pause for bathroom breaks.

  5. Cornélia
    October 28th, 2008 at 12:20 pm · Link

    Oo so expensive to go watch a movie!!! I tought it was cheaper in the US to watch movies… because it’s the home of the entertainment… not cool not cool at all

  6. Maya Rodale
    October 28th, 2008 at 1:48 pm · Link

    I live in nyc and tickets are about 25 for two people!!!

    My friends and I have taken to sneaking in our own concessions: candy and soda from the deli around the corner (about 5 bucks) and homemade popcorn with REAL butter (it’s better, anyway). Shhh….don’t tell!

  7. Amy
    October 28th, 2008 at 1:51 pm · Link

    We go to the movies a lot. We love the movies.

    BUT, we do NOT buy concessions. If my kids want concessions, they pay out of their own pocket, not mine.

    I know theaters make very little money on movie ticket sales (if they make any at all) because the studios get most of the cut anymore. But still, $5 for a soda is INSANE.

    OTOH, if consumers continue to buy at those prices, the theaters will continue to charge.

  8. amp
    October 29th, 2008 at 5:05 pm · Link

    I get DVDs free from the library. There are long waiting lists and sometimes they skip because of stratches (which can be repaired) but hey it’s free and most libraries buy the new DVD’s now.

  9. Annette Pinsonnault
    October 29th, 2008 at 5:48 pm · Link

    I agree with you about the movie prices and the cost of the popcorn and soda! It’s a total ripoff as far as I’m concerned and I bring my own candy in my purse. In my area they have what’s called a “To-Go” box with a small popcorn, small soda and 2 types of candy to choose from so I get that for $5.95…it may have gone up a dollar by now since I’ve last been there,
    I don’t go to the movies that much anymore either because of that. If I do go to a movie I go to the matinee (where you just barely save a few dollars) and make sure it’s a movie that’s worth seeing on the bigscreen with special effects otherwise I’d rather wait and rent it or borrow it from the library. I’ve gotten a lot of movies at the library and you can get them free…it’s worth checking out if you are on a tight budget, especially if you have children. I am by myself and it’s bad enough for one person never mind a whole family having to pay those outrageous prices.

  10. Jamie
    October 29th, 2008 at 7:51 pm · Link

    I used to go to the movies a lot and the movies I loved, I saw at least twice at the movie theater. Now, more often than not, I wait until the movie comes out on video/dvd to see it.

    Not only is it cheaper, but you get to see all those bonuses. So, if you can wait to see the movie, it is worth waiting for it to come on video.

    For those movies you really want to see on the big screen – see them on the big screen at a matinee and sneak in food. It is amazing what you can sneak in your pocketbook and winter coat.

    By the way (OT) – I just have to tell you that my baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies just WON the 2008 World Series!!! (I am very happy about that.)

  11. Cat Schield
    October 30th, 2008 at 11:09 am · Link

    I love the movies. I usually hit the matinees (the theatre by my house starts shows at 10 am) and the price is between $5-6. What kills me is the cost of popcorn and soda. But again, it’s an indulgence I can’t resist. I usually head to the theatre with good intentions, but the first nose hit from the freshly made popcorn and my resolve weakens. I don’t know what price point would stop me from seeing a movie. I think I would give up the popcorn and soda before I’d stop going at all. Nothing like a huge screen for watching chase scenes and pyrotechnics.

    Some months I don’t do as well, but I try and see at least a movie a week. If there’s a rash of kid’s movies, I tend to do better because I can take my daughter. Otherwise I wait until she spends the weekend with her grandparents and hit 2 or 3. I’ve even been known to hit back to back movies on a Sautrday afternoon if there’s something I really want to see.

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