supersize it!

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jul 22 11:58:37 MDT 2003

David McDonald wrote:
> Here is an observation about movie theaters. In Seattle, one of the biggest
> chain theaters in the newest mall downtown has one, exactly one person,
> right where you enter, who takes tickets for 11 different screening rooms.
> One is effectively encouraged to engage in unpaid double and triple
> features. I chuckled a while over the foolish parsimony of the builders and
> managers of this establishment, until I realized the true reason: people who
> stay for double features have to eat, and the food is more profitable than
> the movies because the distributor gets a share. The movies play the same
> role as free peanuts in a bar.

Unfortunately, I can't remember whether this appears in Steven Bach's
"Final Cut" or Julie Salamon's "The Devil's Candy", but it is stated
that movie theater profits come from the refreshment stands rather than
ticket sales. These two excellent books are studies of the profit-driven
model of Hollywood today, focusing on two film fiascos: "Final Cut"
which is about Michael Cimino's disastrous "Heaven's Gate" (really a
pretty good movie, no matter his idiotic "The Deer Hunter"), while
Salamon's book documents the crash-and-burn of Brian DiPalma's "Bonfire
of the Vanities".

The Denver Post
March 22, 1996 Friday 2D EDITION


BYLINE: Jack Cox, Denver Post Staff Writer

The tradition of dinner and a movie is on its way to becoming dinner AT
the movie, as theaters expand their snack lineups to include heartier
items like pizza, tacos and fresh-baked soft pretzels.

No one expects the owners to start serving full-fledged meals, which
would take undue time and space to prepare and might be messy besides.
Few moviegoers would want to sit in the dark and eat soup, salad or a
double-decker burger, for instance. But fries, frozen sodas and ice
cream sundaes may be in the offing at many locations.

United Artists is the first chain in the Denver area to put an extra
leaf in its table, with a recently opened "food court" at its Greenwood
Plaza complex at 8141 E. Arapahoe Road. But Mann Theatres is expected to
pull up a seat soon, while AMC - which already sells "pretzel bites" in
many outlets - is focusing for the time being on ways to provide
speedier service and eliminate lines.

The three Landmark theaters in Denver, which sell "bagel dogs," pastries
and espresso coffees, have no plans to expand their menus, in part
because their lobbies and concession stands are too small to accommodate
the necessary ovens and other special equipment.

"But if our customers wanted something, and it was relatively easy to
fix - and remember, this is the ultimate fast food; it's got to be
faster than McDonald's or people won't stand in line - we'd certainly
have to consider it," said Michael Williams, Denver manager for the
150-screen art-house chain.

The more substantial offerings are partly a response to audiences'
appetite for more varied fare and partly a push for more revenues as
Hollywood's rising costs put the squeeze on earnings from the box office.

Cathy Warning, director of concessions for the 420-outlet United Artists
Theatre Circuit, said food and drink sales typically generate just 20
percent of a theater's total revenue, but 80 percent of its net profit.


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