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Why popcorn costs so much, and other movie theatre mysteries.

TheBoginatorTheBoginator Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
First off, a brief intro, and then the real info. I've been working at a small theatre for a few years now. I started off as a lowly concessionaire, and have since worked my way up to the primary projectionist.

The concessions are so expensive because little to no profit is made from ticket sales. Depending on how new the movie is, the movie companies (Fox, Sony, New Line, etc.) get the vast majority of each ticket price. 90% isn't entirely uncommon for a movie's first week. The percentage tapers as the weeks progress, depending on the company and the individual contracts. The easiest way for the owners to make up for this lack of income is through concessions sales. Popcorn is a great example of this, one of our larges costs the customer $6. it costs something like $.65 to fill it. This also explains why you will probably get the employees very angry when you try to sneak in outside food, to us it seems like you're stealing our paychecks.

Since we're so small (only six screens, and only two, well, three but it's tiny, of those stadium seating) being projectionist is just layered on top of selling concessions and working tickets. We only have one person that is a projectionist that can't do both tickets and concessions, and he's in his 70s or 80s, I don't really know, because we never share shifts.

The way that we handle how many people work at any one time changes throughout the year, since like most of northern Wisconsin, our town is pretty empty when it isn't the summer, with brief spikes for things such as opening weekend of various hunting seasons, snowmobile races, and ice fishing season. During the "off" season (September-May or so) we'll only have our 7 o'clock shows during the weeknights, and three people will be on then. Either the manager or the assistant manager will handle tickets, a projectionist doing whatever when they aren't projectioning, and a third person, usually one of the high schoolers, doing concessions or sometimes tickets if the manager's busy or whatever. Saturdays during the off season is basically how every day during the summer works, 3-4 people working the 1 and 4 o'clock matinees, 6 people on during the 7s, and usually going down to 3 or 4 for the 9s, depending on how busy it is. Friday is pretty much the same, except without the matinees, and Sunday just doesn't have 9s. During the summer we have all four shows, every day.

I have some crazy stories, like the time I was cleaning the men's room after the sevens, and someone had thrown up all over the handicapped stall. There was vomit on the floor, on the wall, on the side of the toilet, but none on the seat, or in the bowl itself. The entire room reeked of alcohol, and cleaning up this bright pink mess took the better part of 10 minutes. The best part? The vomiting drunkard had locked the stall from the inside, and crawled under to get out. I'm not the tallest person, so reaching over the door to unlock it wasn't an option, and I wasn't about to crawl under on the vomit-floor, so I had to jump up, hook both of my arms over the door so it was firmly lodged in my armpits, and try to turn the latch with a broom handle.

I'll talk to some of the other guys at work tonight, try to get some better stories for you. In the meantime, does anyone have any questions? I'll probably end up making a couple of more posts about general stuff as it comes to me otherwise, but I'd rather find out what people actually want to know, instead of just rambling on about things people might not care about.

TheBoginator.gif
Robman wrote: »
No you don't. It's mass effect brah, just grab your controller in one hand and your dick with the other and go to town
TheBoginator on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Do you do art house projection, or are you one of those wannabes who does platter projection?

    Thanatos on
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    midgetspymidgetspy Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    How many channels of audio come in a standard blockbuster movie? More than 8?

    midgetspy on
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    noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    you know, if we one, this could have gone into an employee lounge's thread, instead of someone having to make a whole new thread about theater stories. Just sayin'

    noir_blood on
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    DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    I get that food is priced high to make up costs but in theory, charging amore sensible price is likely to let you sell a lot more than charging £3 (Here price) for a large coke. Could go get 3 litres of coke for that if not more if I shopped at Costco. So people sneak food in instead and the cinema loses out. Yeah you might have to sell 3 times as much to make up that loss of selling it for massive profit but you'd likely sell somehing to every customer instead of every few customers.

    DarkWarrior on
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    DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    So were supposed to be debating whats really happening inside the very mysterious movie theaters?

    I don't get it :|

    Dman on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah whenever I go to the movies I'm usually with a female friend with a large handbag.

    Which OF COURSE is filled with makeup, silly girls. 8-)

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
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    JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    And see, here I've been told by Kevin Smith himself that production companies make crap profits from theatre sales. Places like AMC take about 50% of ticket sales or more, and that nowadays all they care about (Miramax, Fox, etc.) are DVD sales.

    JamesKeenan on
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    Fatboy RobertsFatboy Roberts Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The real mystery is whatever they're calling butter. its' not butter. It doesn't freeze. Ever. It comes as a liquid and no matter what you do to it, it stays a liquid.

    it's fuckin frightening.

    Fatboy Roberts on
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    BamaBama Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I think most people know why concessions are so expensive. The thing is, that doesn't compel me to go ahead and pay a ridiculous sum for popcorn and soda.

    Bama on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I usually eat immediately before I go to a movie, and then just don't buy anything. I think most people sneaking food in would probably do this. So, it's not really stealing anything.

    Thanatos on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The real mystery is whatever they're calling butter. its' not butter. It doesn't freeze. Ever. It comes as a liquid and no matter what you do to it, it stays a liquid.

    it's fuckin frightening.

    Butter flavored oil.

    DeShadowC on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The real mystery is whatever they're calling butter. its' not butter. It doesn't freeze. Ever. It comes as a liquid and no matter what you do to it, it stays a liquid.

    it's fuckin frightening.

    And yet so addictive.

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
  • Options
    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I usually eat immediately before I go to a movie, and then just don't buy anything. I think most people sneaking food in would probably do this. So, it's not really stealing anything.

    The AMC near here doesn't have this no outside food rule. People regularly bring food in from the mall or snacks regularly.

    DeShadowC on
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    JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    JamesKeenan on
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    Fatboy RobertsFatboy Roberts Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Another little popcorn secret: If your theater has matinee showings starting at noon, pretty much all the popcorn available until around 2 or 3 pm is made around 7pm the night before, and then stored in giant garbage bags in a compartment above the cabinet where the butter flavored pennzoil is kept. It is then poured into the maker and heated, with extra butter-salt sprinkles to enhance the stale flavor.

    Also, when soda and popcorn are mixed and left to ferment in a garbage can for longer than 20 minutes, it smells like what I would imagine a rhinoceros' intestines would smell like.

    Fatboy Roberts on
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    noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    This is why I love the Alamo Drafthouse.


    Well, that and their awesome "shut the fuck up" policy.

    noir_blood on
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    LudiousLudious I just wanted a sandwich A temporally dislocated QuiznosRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    Ludious on
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    JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ludious wrote: »
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    The wrattling sub wrappers was pretty bad.

    And we were trying to be quiet, so it wasn't as loud, but it the unwrapping lasted like 3 times as long.

    Mostly, however, it was the smell of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and meatball sub that made it the awkwardest.

    JamesKeenan on
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    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The worst is the cheese substance they put on nachos.
    My friend was cleaning under the bleachers at his highschool once and found a nacho tray that had been there for at least a few years, and there was absolutely no mold or anything on it. It had simply hardened.

    It cannot support life.

    Tofystedeth on
    steam_sig.png
  • Options
    LudiousLudious I just wanted a sandwich A temporally dislocated QuiznosRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ludious wrote: »
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    The wrattling sub wrappers was pretty bad.

    And we were trying to be quiet, so it wasn't as loud, but it the unwrapping lasted like 3 times as long.

    Mostly, however, it was the smell of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and meatball sub that made it the awkwardest.

    Do you know that, literally, people have been shot for less at movies?

    Ludious on
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    DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    The worst part of cinemas lately is other patrons. We went to see something...can;t remember what, might've been Transporter 3. Pretty much everyone but me and my friend was asian for some reason and this group at the back where chatting away through the movie, giggling and shit. Some people told them to shut up but it kept happening and you wonder who would pay so much money to fuck about like that and more importantly, who would be so god damn ignorant as to do that when there are other people in the screen.

    But I don't like leaving to just go get an usher to kick their asses out because then I'm missing out on the film I paid for. Need a call button in chairs or something.

    DarkWarrior on
  • Options
    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ludious wrote: »
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    The wrattling sub wrappers was pretty bad.

    And we were trying to be quiet, so it wasn't as loud, but it the unwrapping lasted like 3 times as long.

    Mostly, however, it was the smell of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and meatball sub that made it the awkwardest.
    Some folks did a study and found out that it makes the same amount of noise to unwrap a candy wrapper slowly as to do it all at once, because it is the same amount of energy stored in the wrinkles.
    Might as well go all out and be loud for a few seconds than be a slightly quieter bother for a few minutes.

    Tofystedeth on
    steam_sig.png
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    YodaTunaYodaTuna Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Another little popcorn secret: If your theater has matinee showings starting at noon, pretty much all the popcorn available until around 2 or 3 pm is made around 7pm the night before, and then stored in giant garbage bags in a compartment above the cabinet where the butter flavored pennzoil is kept. It is then poured into the maker and heated, with extra butter-salt sprinkles to enhance the stale flavor.

    Also, when soda and popcorn are mixed and left to ferment in a garbage can for longer than 20 minutes, it smells like what I would imagine a rhinoceros' intestines would smell like.

    At the multiple theatres I worked at, none of them did this.

    Also being a projectionist is like the single best job in the world. I worked at 16 stadium theatre so we needed several full time projectionists.

    YodaTuna on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The worst part of cinemas lately is other patrons. We went to see something...can;t remember what, might've been Transporter 3. Pretty much everyone but me and my friend was asian for some reason and this group at the back where chatting away through the movie, giggling and shit. Some people told them to shut up but it kept happening and you wonder who would pay so much money to fuck about like that and more importantly, who would be so god damn ignorant as to do that when there are other people in the screen.

    But I don't like leaving to just go get an usher to kick their asses out because then I'm missing out on the film I paid for. Need a call button in chairs or something.

    This is why I go in the afternoon on weekdays.

    DeShadowC on
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    JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ludious wrote: »
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    The wrattling sub wrappers was pretty bad.

    And we were trying to be quiet, so it wasn't as loud, but it the unwrapping lasted like 3 times as long.

    Mostly, however, it was the smell of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and meatball sub that made it the awkwardest.
    Some folks did a study and found out that it makes the same amount of noise to unwrap a candy wrapper slowly as to do it all at once, because it is the same amount of energy stored in the wrinkles.
    Might as well go all out and be loud for a few seconds than be a slightly quieter bother for a few minutes.

    Then of course there was the very slight crinkling everytime I picked up and put down the sandwich.


    All in all it was not my best moment. But it still makes me laugh.

    JamesKeenan on
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    Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?

    Dunadan019 on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?

    Or even at the end of the movie like the cast is hiding in the screen waiting to hear your applause.

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
  • Options
    DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    DeShadowC wrote: »
    The worst part of cinemas lately is other patrons. We went to see something...can;t remember what, might've been Transporter 3. Pretty much everyone but me and my friend was asian for some reason and this group at the back where chatting away through the movie, giggling and shit. Some people told them to shut up but it kept happening and you wonder who would pay so much money to fuck about like that and more importantly, who would be so god damn ignorant as to do that when there are other people in the screen.

    But I don't like leaving to just go get an usher to kick their asses out because then I'm missing out on the film I paid for. Need a call button in chairs or something.

    This is why I go in the afternoon on weekdays.

    This was the afternoon on a Wednesday. As I said it was literally full of asians so I don't know if they had some kind of discount on or what, me, my friend and the staff were the only white people there so I was intimidated from telling these people off (They were young so more likely to kick off and there were 8 of them to my 2). Its just blatant ignorance though, and not only were they noisy,t hey kept leaving and coming back as well, going to the toilet or whatever but bounding down the stairs because they'd chosen wisely to sit at the back.

    DarkWarrior on
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    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I don't ever plan on paying $10 for a soda and popcorn, so I haven't bought anything at a theater in years.

    cj iwakura on
    wVEsyIc.png
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    Fatboy RobertsFatboy Roberts Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    YodaTuna wrote: »
    Another little popcorn secret: If your theater has matinee showings starting at noon, pretty much all the popcorn available until around 2 or 3 pm is made around 7pm the night before, and then stored in giant garbage bags in a compartment above the cabinet where the butter flavored pennzoil is kept. It is then poured into the maker and heated, with extra butter-salt sprinkles to enhance the stale flavor.

    Also, when soda and popcorn are mixed and left to ferment in a garbage can for longer than 20 minutes, it smells like what I would imagine a rhinoceros' intestines would smell like.

    At the multiple theatres I worked at, none of them did this.

    The theaters I worked at, they did.

    Regal theaters. Late 90's.

    Fatboy Roberts on
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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?
    It's a force of habit from going to an actual theater and clapping when the curtain goes up. Same with the credits at the end.

    Fencingsax on
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    DarkWarriorDarkWarrior __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    We could use an employee lounge/retail experiences thread.

    DarkWarrior on
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    TheBoginatorTheBoginator Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Do you do art house projection, or are you one of those wannabes who does platter projection?

    We use platters. We don't have enough people on for somebody to just sit around waiting for the right time to go to the next reel.
    The real mystery is whatever they're calling butter. its' not butter. It doesn't freeze. Ever. It comes as a liquid and no matter what you do to it, it stays a liquid.

    it's fuckin frightening.

    It's usually coconut oil. And it freezes. Our popcorn machine is next to an exterior wall, and there have been days where the wall's gotten cold enough to freeze the "butter," and we would have to get there about half an hour early on those days and hold a hair dryer pointed at the box with the bag of butter.
    Another little popcorn secret: If your theater has matinee showings starting at noon, pretty much all the popcorn available until around 2 or 3 pm is made around 7pm the night before, and then stored in giant garbage bags in a compartment above the cabinet where the butter flavored pennzoil is kept. It is then poured into the maker and heated, with extra butter-salt sprinkles to enhance the stale flavor.

    We actually don't hide the popcorn anywhere, we keep it in warmers built into the concessions counter. One handy rule of thumb when it comes to the freshness of anything, be it popcorn, or meat at a butcher's, the busier the place has been, the fresher the stuff will be. It's rare that we won't have started batches by at least half an hour before the first shows of the day.
    Also, when soda and popcorn are mixed and left to ferment in a garbage can for longer than 20 minutes, it smells like what I would imagine a rhinoceros' intestines would smell like.

    It's one of the worst smells imaginable. You start off with a strong yeasty scent, which I assume is the sugars being turned into alcohol, but if that's left to sit for too long, you get this soul-searing vinegar scent, letting you know that soda, which hardly ever goes bad, has gone bad not once, but twice.

    TheBoginator on
    TheBoginator.gif
    Robman wrote: »
    No you don't. It's mass effect brah, just grab your controller in one hand and your dick with the other and go to town
  • Options
    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?
    It's a force of habit from going to an actual theater and clapping when the curtain goes up. Same with the credits at the end.

    I don't know.

    I doubt that many people in a theater go to see actual live theater.

    Anyway next time it happens I'm just going to stand up and take a bow and claim I'm a producer.

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
  • Options
    Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?
    It's a force of habit from going to an actual theater and clapping when the curtain goes up. Same with the credits at the end.

    god, get with the times people. this is the age of the internet, you should be declaring that the movie sucked as loud as possible while making obscene gestures.... during the opening credits.

    Dunadan019 on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    We could use an employee lounge/retail experiences thread.

    Last time I asked I was told no.

    DeShadowC on
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    Fatboy RobertsFatboy Roberts Registered User regular
    edited February 2009

    It's usually coconut oil. And it freezes. Our popcorn machine is next to an exterior wall, and there have been days where the wall's gotten cold enough to freeze the "butter," and we would have to get there about half an hour early on those days and hold a hair dryer pointed at the box with the bag of butter.

    Damn. I've never seen it do anything but sit in the jug, malignantly. Although I like the idea of someone being paid to sit in the stockroom with a hair-dryer, reading a comic and re-liquefying the butter flavored oilish substance.

    Fatboy Roberts on
  • Options
    TheBoginatorTheBoginator Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Ludious wrote: »
    Yeah. I usually sneak food in. The most awkward was the time me and my girlfriend planned on eating Subway before we went, but we were running late, so we just took our subs into the movie, and ate them there. But we were in the middle aisle of a relatively packed theatre.

    The subs were so good, but it was so awkward.

    Oh God. The paper rattling. Cinema weeps this day.

    The wrattling sub wrappers was pretty bad.

    And we were trying to be quiet, so it wasn't as loud, but it the unwrapping lasted like 3 times as long.

    Mostly, however, it was the smell of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and meatball sub that made it the awkwardest.
    Some folks did a study and found out that it makes the same amount of noise to unwrap a candy wrapper slowly as to do it all at once, because it is the same amount of energy stored in the wrinkles.
    Might as well go all out and be loud for a few seconds than be a slightly quieter bother for a few minutes.

    Then of course there was the very slight crinkling everytime I picked up and put down the sandwich.


    All in all it was not my best moment. But it still makes me laugh.

    Use a small popcorn bucket. The two halves of a subway sandwich fit perfectly into ours. I'd post a picture but I don't have any available at the moment. This is basically how I eat dinner when we have our private showings of the movie coming out that week the Thursday before.

    TheBoginator on
    TheBoginator.gif
    Robman wrote: »
    No you don't. It's mass effect brah, just grab your controller in one hand and your dick with the other and go to town
  • Options
    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited February 2009

    It's usually coconut oil. And it freezes. Our popcorn machine is next to an exterior wall, and there have been days where the wall's gotten cold enough to freeze the "butter," and we would have to get there about half an hour early on those days and hold a hair dryer pointed at the box with the bag of butter.

    Damn. I've never seen it do anything but sit in the jug, malignantly. Although I like the idea of someone being paid to sit in the stockroom with a hair-dryer, reading a comic and re-liquefying the butter flavored oilish substance.

    I buy it to put on my microwave popcorn.

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
  • Options
    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Kagera wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    you know what really bothers me about theatres?

    when you go to a newly released movie and everyone claps when the title comes on the screen.

    cmon, who are you clapping at?
    It's a force of habit from going to an actual theater and clapping when the curtain goes up. Same with the credits at the end.

    I don't know.

    I doubt that many people in a theater go to see actual live theater.

    Anyway next time it happens I'm just going to stand up and take a bow and claim I'm a producer.
    That would explain why I'm the only one watching the movie through my monocle.

    Fencingsax on
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