Sneaking Candy Into Movie Theaters: Frugal Or Cheap?

Is sneaking in candy to a movie theater being frugal or being cheap (and dishonest)?

I posed that question to the Wise Bread forums a couple weeks ago and received some interesting responses. It seems a majority of people there think the practice is acceptable, as long as there aren’t signs posted specifically forbidding the practice.

I’m interested to get your feedback as well, and I’ll share a few of my thoughts on the subject.

Here’s a copy of my original Wise Bread post:

My wife and I went somewhere last weekend we had not been in a long, long time – a movie theater! I hit the boxed-candy-for-a-dollar section at a nearby Target and picked up a couple boxes of our favorites to “sneak in” the theater. My wife said I was a cheapskate.

Normally, I would thank her for the compliment, but this time her comment had me thinking. Is sneaking in candy to a theater being cheap, or being frugal? I don’t normally think of myself as being cheap, but in this case maybe she’s right. But $3.00 for a box of M&Ms?!

After giving this scenario some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that sneaking candy into the movies is cheap, and possibly dishonest. After all, concessions seem to be where most theaters make their money (along with a percentage from ticket sales). While bringing in your own candy may appear to be a smart frugal move, and it is admittedly much cheaper than buying from the concessions stand, the smarter move would be to simply skip the candy altogether. And if I just had to satisfy a sweet tooth I should suck it up and buy a box of $3.00 M&Ms from the theater.

Some of you are probably shaking your heads wondering how the “Frugal Dad” could come to such a conclusion. Well, maybe it is the eternal capitalist in me that sees that a business has the right to sell refreshments and request outside refreshments not be brought in. After all, if I don’t like that policy I can stay home and wait for the DVD from Netflix.

I also think this folds into my way of thinking – live frugal, but stop to smell the roses. In the grand scheme of things, a box or two of movie candy or a large tub of popcorn is really not going to make or break us. As long as we budget for the expense, and pay cash, there isn’t any reason why I can’t treat the family to a few splurges every now and then.

If you do decide to take in your own candy and snacks it helps if you have an oversized handbag or purse available.

Ask the readers: So what’s your take on this issue, moviegoers?

Comments

  1. I don’t do it because I consider it a form of stealing if the theatre has a policy against it. It also concerns me that people try to rationalize this practice by saying that it’s okay because the prices are too high. If I don’t want to pay the money for something, I don’t try to ‘cheat’ the system, whether it be sneaking candy in a movie, a downloading a song, splitting a cable feed or hotlinking an image off someone else’s website. If you don’t want to pay for or consume the kind of food at the concession stand, then you don’t get to have food in the theatre.

    I don’t remember the last time I went to the movie theatre, because I’m more offended by the price of admission than the cost of any snacks. I just wait a few months and enjoy the movie while sitting on my couch with a big bowl of air-popped popcorn and a glass of water for barely $5. No dishonesty required.

  2. I like my little movie theater concession splurges, so I don’t mind paying for it. :) I love getting popcorn, as I just think it completes the whole evening (Or afternoon) for me. (Whatever horrible things they add to the popcorn to make it taste so good gets to me…) I’ll occasionally buy a box of candy as well, but the price helps keep me away from too much sugar most of the time. (Cheap boxed candy would “allow” me indulge more often than I need to.)

  3. It’s a cheapskate move for sure. It’s like bringing your own food to a restaurant.

    When you pay inflated prices for refreshments at an establishment, you’re not always getting gouged. The $4 you spend on a coffee goes toward the beverage and to “rent” the space you’re sitting in. You’re getting something of value beyond the beverage or snack. For the price of admission plus $3 you pay for M&M’s, you get to watch a first-run movie on equipment not available at home.

    • Thats what the ticket price is for. You pay the ticket to “rent” the space (hence admission or “admit one”). Anything to do with the snacks is basically extra. So they overprice the snacks and tell you that food isn’t allowed inside basically forcing you to buy it if you want something to eat during a movie. Just like many entertainment venues such as sport stadiums they abuse the location and rules they make in their favor. its almost like a trap. I’d say hey if you can sneak in the food and beverages more power to you, save a few bucks.

      • Except the theater gives the vast majority of the ticket price (in some cases, 100%, or even MORE) you pay to the studios. If theaters’ only revenue were box office sales, they’d all go out of business, every last one of them.

      • NO, it’s called STEALING, and if you sneak candy, etc. into a theater you are a vile, thieving pig who was probably raised by a scumbags. You should be handcuffed and prosecuted. Theaters earn no profit on tickets, and, even if they did, the truth would not change; sneaking candy, etc. into theaters is WRONG. A cheap person who wants to save a few bucks is to sit without food or beverage.

  4. We only go to one or two movies a year as a family- the kids go with friends throughout the year on their own. We always buy the special popcorn package which is around $10 for a large popcorn and coke with refills. I bring in our own candy. I don’t feel bad after spending on the popcorn deal. I carry my own snack to a lot of places, like amusement parks, so do not see a difference in bringing it here. We have 5 kids so to pay that much for each of them would be rediculous. Question: If you find this wrong, do you find offence in bringing a snack and water into an amusement park and places like that. Some parks do not allow it, but most do not care and we bring a diaper bag or tote bag with snack.

  5. I have also done this but I’m afraid it’s pretty cheap. Some people will argue it’s their right since movie tickets and snacks are overpriced anyway, but I don’t think it makes it right necessarily. If you don’t want to pay the high price for popcorn, pop or candy, don’t eat it. I don’t go to the theatre very often, so like you said, I can splurge on treats if I’m in the mood.

  6. Hey Frugal Dad,
    I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and I have to say I really enjoy your writing. In regards to this topic, I used to think it was perfectly fine to bring your own snacks, and to an extent I still think it’s not a HUGE deal because I’m pretty sure most people buy concessions. Then I came across an article that did a great job of explaining why concession prices seem so high. Rather than copy and paste it here, I’ll include a link to a piece I wrote that references it.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. You offer insight and inspiration to many, in addition to entertainment.

    Nick@rbcp2p.com

  7. @Amy via Kelly – I was going to echo the idea of asking for a cup of tap water. It may not taste as “pure” as Poland Springs or Aquafina or whoever bottles the water, but technically tap water is more pure than any other bottled water, price for price.

    Three months ago, I blogged about the cosmetics of water.

    I might suggest, rather than asking for a cup at the theater, why not bring in your own bottle, Nalgene or other, and ask the pretty attendants to fill ‘er up!

  8. I have to say this is just being frugal.

    The reason is that the prices per portion are so out of wack that it is basically robbery. A $3 box of M&Ms that is just a few ounces bigger than what you can get at the supermarket for just under $1?

    I don’t buy into the the idea that I am paying to rent the space I am taking up. I paid the $13 a ticket to get in, I should not have to pay ridiculous prices to snack as well.

    It is the same thing at Theme Parks. $40-$65 to get in, then a basket of 4 chicken fingers and fries costs $9.50. I can get that same basket of chicken and friends from KFC for half the price.

  9. I don’t bother with the candy at the theater. I’d rather have a nice meal with friends before or after the movie than eat junk food during the movie. On my part, it’s more about eating decent food than the money involved.

    On the other hand, I do bring my own water to drink during the film. It just plain ticks me off to have to pay for WATER. If it was 50 cents it would still tick me off… but $3????? WATER is supposed to be free.

  10. OK I don’t do the candy thing at movies and taking your own is cheapskatish to me because if you don’t like the price don’t buy it. Here is how I save for movies: I don’t know if other people have used this but I get the entertainment book every year; I hate promoting things but here is the website http://www.entertainment.com Yeah it’s 30 bucks but the Regal coupons in there get you in the theater for $6, that’s a big savings over the $9.50 for a regular ticket where I live.(we go to a lot of movies) AMC is $6 bucks too but you have to pre-pay and mail away for them. Plus the whole book is tons of coupons for resturants, mini golf, family activities etc.

  11. Cheap? I’ll take it to the next level. I havent wasted money on a movie in about 15 years. I dont have cable at home. Simply a dvd player, and vcr, and T.V. I go to the library for movies. I have a 2 year old, and he doesnt need to see the foolish commercials on tv. We get along just fine as it is.

  12. We don’t get to go to the movie theater very often any more, but when we do, we usually take our own munchies.

    It may be cheap, but I look at this as a control issue. Sure, I want a snack while watching the movie, but I want/need control over what that snack will be, rather than having to settle for the nutritionally-void crap that the concession booth (boy, is that a fitting name or what?) has to offer. So, yeah, I sneak in some trail mix, mixed nuts, string cheese, or some other low-sugar treat(s) in my cargo pockets.

    Like Kelly, I also smuggle in my own water because I can’t drink carbonated or sugary drinks and because $3 for a bottle of water is unthinkable.

    I know the theaters have to make some money, but gouging ya $3-4 for a box of candy that would cost a buck or less anywhere else is beyond reasonable limits. And popcorn costs them pennies to make, so if I blow $4-5 on popcorn – which I often do – I feel I’ve contributed plenty.

    I kinda think of this the other way around – if enough viewers were sneaking in food & drinks instead of buying the theater’s hyper-priced offerings, they would have to make their prices a bit more sensible… Since that’s not happening, well, I’m loading up my pockets!

  13. As a former Movie theatre manager . . . eh, people do it all the time. ;-) I never had a problem with it, really, as long as they cleaned up after themselves. It does suck to have clean up in general, but to have clean up crap that isnt even from your concession stand? I did draw the line at people bringing in BAGS of fast food, or full pizza boxes – but that had more to do with the health code and rats. But to sneak in a bag of M&Ms? Or even a can of coke? I never really made a big stink about it. The people who DO buy concessions more than make up for the few frugal (not cheap ;-) ) folk who bring their own in.

    Theatres make their money on the concessions, and make very little money off the movie being sold. I agree that the prices are wacked out, especially in terms of the candy, but also for the popcorn. A 50 pound bag of UNPOPPED popcorn costs the Theatre 18 cents. Talk about a markup.

  14. It’s not cheap, but knowing that the movie theatres live from concessions, it seems dishonst to me. Have a meal before or after the movie, and skip the candy.

  15. I was the Assistant to the Director of Concessions at the home office of Cinemark Theaters (national chain) many years ago. Let me tell you, they don’t make as much money off their tickets as they do their concessions. I know what they paid for candy and I know what they charged. As far as I’m concerned, you’re not cheap to bring your own candy, you’re smart! Why waste the money? They’re already way overcharging you for tickets.

    Now there are some face saving things to consider. If you’re with your family, bring your own. If you go out with friends and don’t want to appear cheap buy something small or skip the candy altogether. OR…here’s a thought…bring enough candy for them so they don’t have to look cheap either!

  16. Laura in ATL settled it for me… if a movie theater manager has no problem with it, then I don’t feel guilty for doing it. And I always throw my trasn in the trash can.

    Rob O. brought up another good point… I can eat trail mix or something similar if I bring it myself. I have to eat sugar or popcorn if I rely on the theater. The theater gets no money from me for concessions regardless, b/c I’m either going to eat what I bring or eat nothing.

    I’ve never been to a theater where the concession line wasn’t at least as long as the ticket line. I think they’re getting plenty.

  17. Typically I get popcorn, so I have to buy it there, but I occasionally will opt to bring in a $1.50 bottle of soda with me.

    I have also brought in actual food, like from the fast food restaurants in the food court. It’s a lot more satisfying than either candy or popcorn and no one has ever seen me to do it (thank God for the purse). I consider it being frugal, but I also don’t care if this means I’m “cheap” or “cheating the system.” I am paying to see the movie on the big screen – that’s what I’m there for – and not to eat overpriced food. If movie theaters insist on doing that, then they are putting themselves at risk for having people sneak stuff in. This is not the same as bring food to a restaurant. You go to a movie to watch a movie, you go to a restaurant to eat their food. Both of which I do.

  18. They don’t sell the snacks that I want…almonds and raisins. So I take them with me in my purse. We do end up buying popcorn and a hot dog and soda so I don’t feel bad taking in a SMALL bag of candy or my almonds/raisins. The size of their candy is insane too. I don’t need that much and if I buy it I’ll eat it.

    It ticks me off that we are SO restricted. I can’t even bring in my own water bottle (not bottled water, but a refillable water bottle from REI) and there’s nothing free about water in the movie theater.

    So no I don’t think it’s cheap or dishonest. When we went to our local theater (locally owned) I never brought in our own but their prices were more reasonable, they had more choices, and they gave free pop refills! =)

  19. I wholeheartedly agree with Allison. You’re there to see the movie, not to eat. It’s completely different than bringing food to a restaurant. That’d be like bringing “National Treasure” to the movie theater and asking them to play that instead of “Indiana Jones.” Absurd.

    I was once at a movie theater where we bought some candy at the concessions and they said to us “you know you can bring in your own snacks if you want.” That definitely surprised me.

    Now, if they have a sign that says “no food allowed” or something, then yes it is dishonest because you are violating a written policy.

    I also like the idea of bringing in healthier food – trail mix, etc – since that is not an option at the theater. I wouldn’t feel bad at all for bringing in those items.

    And besides if I do have the munchies for popcorn, I’ll buy it. It’s not like I’m going to bring in a microwaveable bag and ask them to pop it for me. So they will get some concession money off of me (the 2 times a year I’m in the theater).

  20. We have a Dollar Movie here in town where it only costs $1.00 every day except Tuesdays when it’s only 50 cents a person that day. That’s where we go to the movies. We wait for movies to hit that theater and go view them there. Because we are only paying cheap prices to get in to see the movie, we gladly pay the prices at the snack counter for the popcorn/drinks…not the candy though. I still refuse to pay $3.00-$4.00/per box when I can walk right down the mall and buy the same exact thing for $1.00 from Dollar Tree. Once every 6 months or so there might be a movie we really want to see at the Rave so we’ll go to an early show and pay the $6.50 to get in…but then we bring in our own candy and drinks and have popcorn when we get home.

  21. @Kelly

    You don’t have to purchase the water at the Movie Theater. It may be a little known fact but, you can ask for a Styrofoam cup and then just fill it up at the drinking fountain for free. That’s what I do. The only issue I’ve run into with this is that they usually don’t fit securely in the drink holders on the seats.

  22. If no sign is posted to prohibit the activity – I’m perfectly fine with taking in whatever I want. With 3 kids, I find it much more ‘frugal’ as a dad to have my wife load up an oversized purse with snacks for everyone rather than have the kids whine about wanting me to spend $30 or $40 just for food to watch a movie.

  23. We have three kids, so the movies are a luxury. When we do go however, It caost us more for the conseccions than the movie. We will usually by two large drinks (1 for the kids and one for the wife and I)and a large popcorn we all share. Candy though we never buy there. We may bring some if the kids demand it, but I can’t afford $1 cand that costs $3

  24. If you don’t like the prices, don’t buy them.

    You know where they make their money, though. I usually buy some Raisinets and a medium drink or a water. Why? I want the theater to remain open and the people to keep their jobs. It isn’t being frugal, but I like to follow the general idea that Trent pushes: if it is something that you see yourself happily spending the money on, an investment that you want to make, then make it!

    I like the theaters. I should point out…I go to a theater where ticket prices at most are $1.50…..so I have more incentive to buy…. when I visit a theater where tickets are $8 – $15…I usually skip out.

  25. It’s cheap. When you visit an establishment, you should abide by their rules. If you don’t like the rules, don’t visit.

    We rarely go to the movies anymore, but when we do, we buy a popcorn and pop to share….from the concession stand, of course.

  26. Well, it depends on how we see it. I know some theatres don’t allow outside snacks / drinks. my wife and I go to one or two movies a year, however, we pack something from home; occasionally eat an icecream outside and then get in. We mostly don’t eat candies and no pop corn either. so literally there is nothing I can buy on concession stands. on the other side, It is very expensive, I wonder if they had reduced the price on concession stands, what their ROI would be!

    We had once been to a local theatre screening Indian movies. I noticed those delicious snacks were sold at $1 a piece, and sure, there was a lot of crowd at the conession stand.

    When I used to eat pop-corn before I would think of buying a small bag but that would cost $4.95/- that I didn’t see value in buying that for that hour and a half that I sit there to watch a movie.

  27. I only go to the movies on special occasions. And only go buy concessions on special special occasions. Among other things, I find that drinking in the theater means that I need to use the bathroom. And eating popcorn makes me thirsty. And popcorn is my favorite concession. :) It’s also the hardest to smuggle.

    But I’m not above having smuggled in a water bottle once or twice.

  28. Here’s my take:

    Frugal – renting a new release, popping a HUGE bowl of popcorn and eating your boxed candy in the comfort of your own home.

    Cheap – Paying $20 for two tickets at the theatre, sneaking in your own candy so you don’t have to pay for the stuff inside.

    Downright stupid – Paying $20 for two tickets to the theatre, having to arrive thirty minutes early for a good seat, being packed in like cattle behind a mother with a screaming baby — one who refuses to take said baby out of the theatre until it calms down –, plus buying a $10 Popcorn&Soda combo, 2 $3 boxes of candy, having your ears blown off the sides of your head by the too-loud volume and enjoying the constant kicking of the back of your chair while Tom Cruise does his MI18 thing.

    Give me frugality or give me death, but please don’t send me to the movie theatre.

  29. I asked this question a few months ago. Where we went to the movies and paid almost $100 for 6 of us with snacks they had signs that said No Outside Food Allowed, so I felt since I was choosing to go there that I had to follow there rules. But I found another theater in our area that does not mind outside snacks, so we will go there if we go back to the movies. Thanks!

  30. I’m afraid I think its cheap, in my opinion. Yes, the prices are outrageous, and I don’t particularly buy the argument that its wrong to bring in food because the movie theaters rely on that source of income. They should raise ticket prices if they need to. However, it really is the movie theater’s house, and they set the rules — when I purchase a ticket to a movie, I’m agreeing to play by their rules. If I don’t like it, I can (and have) gone elsewhere. But to sneak in food seems to be dishonest.

  31. Typically, we buy from the concession stand, because a night at the movies is a treat for us. However, I do like to eat healthy, and they don’t offer healthy choices at the concession stand. So I have brought in bags of cheerios, or carrot sticks to munch on as well.

  32. Enough already with the whole stealing argument. It is NOT stealing. That is saying that if you DON’T buy anything at all, it is like stealing (since they “live off concessions”…nonsense) They may make a nice margin on these items and it helps subsidize the other parts of their business, but that is just silly.

    What happened to the free market? Theaters should have to compete with other businesses to win your concession business. And they are doing just that by offering the popcorn and soda refill option as well as other innovative marketing skills.

  33. Man I HATED this when we were kids – my parents and aunts stuffing bags of popcorn and candy in our pockets so we wouldn’t have to buy there. Always made us feel like thieves even if you weren’t technically stealing. Hubby hated it too. Sorry, to us it’s just cheap. Either buy the candy there or eat before you go (low and behold, you CAN see a movie without eating something!).

  34. In the dark of the thwetre nobody knows where my box of candy came from. I pay an arm and a leg for a meager portion of popcorn with FAKE butter.
    Though one time a friend brought his own and wasn’t discrete and I was embarrassed for him. Sneaking candy must be disrcrete. It’s FRUGAL!

  35. While agreeing with those who believe the theater owners have a right to make a profit, I cannot allow them the mark up they charge. There is a difference between making a profit and ripping people off. Movie theater refreshments of all types are absurdly over priced. I don’t feel guilty about bringing in candy. You are not being cheap when you refuse to be ripped off.

  36. Nice post FD! Way to write about something a LOT of us can relate to and take a firm stance on it. I have done this a few times mostly without even realizing it, but usually I try to not get anything at all.

    If I do I know it’s my own fault — I take it as being part of the “movie theater” experience, bad as that may be.

    Plus since I pay $5/ticket whenever I go, a couple extra bucks for a soda is no big deal.

  37. I don’t buy candy or a drink there. I am infamous in smuggling in both.

    I do support the theater by buying popcorn. I recently bought a full meal deal at the theater when a friend and I deceided implusively to go at the last minute. It cost me more for treats than it did to get in.

    Most theater’s do not make ANY money on new releases, at least not for the first two weeks. I still bring an ice chest and home made popcorn to the drive in theater (We still have one near me). My one exception is a small, not for profit theater in Tacoma near by that shows small indepentdent films . They need all the help they can get to stay open. I am not so worried about the big chains serving the big mega buck movies.

  38. I have brought stuff before to movie theatres just so I won’t have to get up and get it, or stand in line. I usually do buy one large coke with less ice so it will last the whole time.
    I remember as a kid we took our supper to the drive in. Most times we took Pizza that my mother made at home.

  39. Absolutely not, we do it all the time. That will be the day that I pay $3.50 for a pack of M&M’s! Then again, I go to maybe 3 movies a year now, as $12 a ticket is too much for my blood. :-)

  40. Well I’ve been too cheap (frugal) to go to the movies since 1991…and that’s a long long time ago. When movies hit $3, I said, no more.

    Before that, it was just popcorn.
    I think because that’s all Mom would let us get at the movies when we were kids – she said we couldn’t have candy – altho we were allowed a pickle instead of the popcorn – but just one thing each.

    I don’t have TV, except the fuzzy PBS that comes in on the rabbit ears – so when I ‘need’ a movie I get a freebie from the local library. My grandkids enjoy Movie Night at Grammi – and it’s always a library find :)

  41. At the theater’s in my hometown we can carry in food from anywhere. I’ve taken in bags of fast food, Big Gulps from the 7-11. It isn’t considered “sneaking” it in if the theater allows it.

  42. Cheap? My husband and I go to the movies about once every six week or so, we buy a large bucket of popcorn ($6.50) but don’t buy anything to drink. I don’t “smuggle” anything in but they want to check my purse for “knives or guns” “ha”, not for candies, but they never ask to check my husbands pockets for a gun or knife. No, don’t go to that movie house anymore.

  43. HELL NO! that’s not cheap, that’s called not being a big sucker! if you knew a gas station, across town that sold gas for $1 a gallon, would you drive there, or would you get ripped off at the over priced $5 A GALLON station down the street?

  44. Great topic! I agree with your rationale. Bringing your own candy into a theater is like bringing your own food into a restaurant, ordering water and leaving the mess behind with no tip.

    Looks like this story stired quite the fuss. ;-)

  45. The price of the ticket is highway robbery. I don’t feel guilty at all when I smuggle in candy I purchased at a reasonable price from the store around the corner.

  46. After I spend $32 to get my wife and 2 kids into the movie I’m hardly in the mood to spend another 29.95 just to feed them. I’ll buy popcorn and 2 sodas for everyone to share. Candy? Dollar store bought and paid for. Supporting my local dollar store who hasn’t gouged me yet.

  47. Would you bring drinks and/or a snack into Six Flags with you? Most people who spend a few minutes thinking ahead would.

    The prices are outrageous, the sizes gluttonous, and you already paid for the entertainment with your ticket price.

  48. Cheap and not very smart! Where will the new theater you visit be when this one closes because it is not profitable. What will your new expenses be? Pay for your treats and convenience of watching a movie close to home. Support your local businesses.

  49. Cheap is going to Dollar Tree to buy a present for your wife the day of her birthday.

    Frugal is deciding that the movie theaters are charging WAY too much for their quarter-portioned candy, and choosing to bring in your own.

    I just went to see Iron Man on Sunday. It was bad enough that the cost of the ticket was ridiculous, but I had to pay $20.50 for a medium popcorn, 2 medium drinks and a box of candy. The costs are outrageous and they just keep getting worse.

    The theaters are just as bad as the oil companies charging $4 per gallon just to maintain their billion dollar profits off of our hard earn money and broken backs.

  50. I am the manager for a theater so, like Rob O, I see this all the time. Personally I agree snacks are over priced and but having ” insider” knowlage I know why. It is EXPENCIVE to run a theater!! For a “first run” theater the studios charge 60%-90% of the ticket price AND they get to look at your attendance before they charge you. And the better you do the higher % they take. So that $10.00 ticket may only make the theater $1.00 or at best $4.00
    I’m not going to try to list all the costs to keep a theater open but there are plenty and beyond the ticket price the main income for a theater is concessions.
    As far as the “right or wrong” of it goes I look at it like this. If there are signs posted saying not to do something I don’t do it. I don’t care if ” every one else is doing it” or not. And one last thing, think about your job/buisness, if people were doing something to take away your MAIN income source how would you react?

    P.S. One thing I’d like everyone to know is that Fedral law allowes you take bottled water into theaters, and most likely other places like sporting events.

  51. I worked at a movie theatre at the local mall as a teenager and saw people sneak in just about everything. There was a sign posted at the front of the lobby that read, “No outside food or drinks.” When we picked up the trash, there was all kinds of food wrappers, beer bottles, and cans of pop that weren’t sold at the concession stand. The worst thing was watching someone buy a fresh box of caramel corn next door and have to point out the sign and tell them they couldn’t bring it in. We had to sell water for the same price as the soda to account for the “cup inventory.” Boy, did people get mad when they had to dump their outside food AND pay for water. God help us if the power went out or the movie broke. This was the 80′s, before road rage was socially acceptable.

    Either way, if you have to hide it in your purse or cargo pockets, it’s wrong on some level. But once the previews start, it’s game on.

    (The 2 oz. “courtesy cup” of water AND ice was free. Now, you’d probably have to pay for that.)

  52. Okay I think that people who are willing to pay $3.00 for a package of M&M’s are just nuts. It costs a pittance to make popcorn and the average bag will run you $5.00. These concession stands make a killing on their overinflated prices for candy, pop, and popcorn. It’s expensive to see a film, especially if you have kids. For my family of 5 to see a film it runs me $8.00 a ticket, so there is $40 just to walk in the door, popcorn shared at a large bag is $5.75, 2 Sodas totalling $7.00, and then top it off with $3.00 boxes of candy? So every time I see a film I minimally look at $60.00 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours of entertainment. I’ll buy my popcorn there and I’ll buy my soda there, but I’ll continue to bring in my 50 cent candybar from Wal-Mart and not feel the slightest bit guilty.

  53. *Frugal*

    Going to the movies adds up for a family of 5. If you consider an adult ticket is 9.50 and childs ticket 9.00 we spend nearly 50.00 getting in the door that’s not to mention if we want to get sodas and candy. If you factor in another 7.00 minimum for each head we’re looking almost 85.00 to go see one movie. If you think spending 50.00 to go to the movies is cheap you have to be out of your mind. I think that they can take the 15.00 loss on the candy considering we will buy a soda. They’re still making out with a considerable sum of 70.00. If you figure 9.50 for adult and 9.00 for child patrons – expenses I’m sure they still make out with a good sum. Also, who is going to pay 3.00 for something they could buy for 1.00? That just seems unwise unless that other 2.00 is going to charity? Come on. They’ll have to pay the actors and actresses on A rated movies less before I spend more on candies at the movies.

  54. I usually just skip the snacks. But if I don’t have any issues with bringing something in. If you think it is cheap or dishonest to do this, well, just wait until airlines charge for everything and restrict outside food being brought on the plane…(eventhough you probably overpaid for that food at the airport.).

  55. Frugal vs. cheap. “If you’re minding your pennies the dollars will take care of themselves.” How does one evaluate that comment? I supposed like most things it depends on how you see yourself in the scheme of things. If I were to describe the following what comes to your mind. An older gentleman in his overalls driving a forty year old truck. Well let’s see he’s not in a hummer and he’s not wearing a Rolex, so wow he’s not full of himself nor does he feel the need to show off. But on the economical side his truck is paid off and can he afford the gas well yes he can because he watched the pennies and the $$ grew. This is a story that was told about a real man. I wont say his name but believe me he could afford to show off if he wanted to because when he was alive he was the owner of a big casino at Lake Tahoe south shore in Nevada. So is watching your pennies really “Cheap” or is it fiscally responsible.

  56. If there are rules in place, you consent to them when you enter the theater. If you can’t afford to eat $5 bags of popcorn, eat at home, or on the way to the theater.

    I might suggest an exception for formula, juice boxes, crackers, etc. for the four-and-under crowd. Having a healthy snack readily available is an important part of outings with little ones, and not much at the concession stand is entirely suitable. (Packing M&M to share with them is cheating.)

    Just throwing this out there–wouldn’t the obesity epidemic be less prevalent in the US if we could manage to go 2 hours without eating?

  57. I don’t buy the notion that if you bring your own snack into the theatre, you’re stealing. That’s totally ridiculous. All the facilities, management and maintenant costs are factored into the movie tickets along with the profits. The better the movie, the more attendees, thus more revenues and more profits. Concession sales and profits are just the cream on cake. If I didn’t want to buy the goods and preferred to bring my own, why was it considered stealing?

  58. The reason why people bring in candy to the movie theater is that the price is to high in the theater- overpricing. There is no loss if you bring it in, only a gain. If the price was lower, and there was strict enforcement, then there would be more sales and potentially more total revenue and I wouldn’t mind the little extra money I have to pay for the convienience.

  59. You know everyone is whining about the high price of oil and gas and is ready to tar and feather oil company executives when it’s actually the fault of Congress and the Wall Street Bankers (moratoriums and speculation, respectively) along with supply-and-demand issues, but nobody seems to have a problem with paying $15 for a movie that I remember I used to get into for $1.50 and spending $3.00 on candy I used to get for a nickle or dime or whatever (ok maybe it’s a bigger bag or box, but you get my point). When people charge these prices after a disaster they go to prison for it – yet here we are willing to pay it. All you people who just have to go to the movies whatever the price of the ticket or the refreshments – don’t complain to me, you’re the ones who are willing to pay the outrageous prices. As for concessions, try this – stop buying them and write to the theatre chains and tell them you will only start when they reduce the prices to more reasonable levels. I hear McDonalds has a huge drink for under a buck and many convenience stores apparently have similar deals – get your refreshments there and if you can’t bring them into the theatre, DON’T!

  60. The question was not if there were rules! The question was is sneaking candy into a movie frugal or cheap? I believe the question could have been worded a little better because sneaking infers a premeditated act of wrong doing or of breaking the rules. It may have been better addresses as, is it frugal or cheap to bring candy into a movie theater

  61. I did it today and I also snuck in sodas! When I take my three grandchildren to a movie, the price of tickets alone is about thirty dollars.Then add on another twenty or so for watered down soda and stale popcorn. Is it any different then when people use to go to the drive-in and brought a cooler?

  62. My wife justs asks the attendants at the door if it is okay if we bring candy or whatnot into the theater. Never once has anyone said “No”. We will bring in frozen yogurt or boxes of candy from the dollar store.
    Also, a few have mentioned bringing food into theme parks- We live in SoCal and sometimes purchase season passes to Magic Mountain or Dizzyland. No problem bringing food there either. Just ask about their policy. At the start of the season we would buy several branded “eternally refillable” soda bottles at one of the concession stands for 8 bucks or something, but then we got 32 ounce refills for 99cents for the balance of the season. Pretty frugal.

  63. On further consideration, if you want to stick by your principles and remain frugal – you should wait until the movies hit your local dollar theatre or drive-in.

    There is nothing frugal about spending upwards of $50 for two people for snacks and a movie, regardless of principles. Find a way to do it cheaper.

  64. Bottom line here folks; it is not whether this practice is a cheap or frugal move, it is what kind of FAT, “cream laden” profit the movie theater owner is trying to get. Is it a huge profit that let’s the owner enjoy lots of expensive toys, goodies etc. at our expense?

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that it is! This is what free enterprise is all about folks. RIP money from the pockets of the consumer. STOP the exuberant pricing folks. I’ll take my candy AND popcorn into the theater and save enough money for a nice meal (or two). The thief is not the individual bringing in his own goodies. The thief is the theater owner marking up ticket prices and food at a ridiculous price for his own greed.

  65. My son used to work for the local cinema in our city and he was told it did not matter if patrons walked in with their own food. I am a mother of 5 and it is a special treat when we decide to go to the movies as a family. Sometimes I will splurge and purchase the popcorn because it tastes so darn good but lately I pop my own at home (not microwave) because it is much healthier for you. If theatres insist on us purchasing their concessions then I guess we will take our business elswhere…..Netflix!!!

  66. If there’s a sign that says “No Outside Food,” then I abide by that and either do without snacks or get something small at the concession stand (if I know that I’m going to be starving or parched without it by the end of the movie).

    But if there are no signs, I don’t see the problem. When my boyfriend and I have to shell out $18.50 just so to see a movie, we don’t feel bad at all about grabbing a couple of candy bars from the store next door and bringing them to the movie in our hoodie pockets. I know inflation is driving everything up, but a $4.25 movie ticket jumping to $9.25 in the course of 8 years is insanity, not inflation. The candy (OUTSIDE of movie theaters) sure hasn’t jumped that much!

  67. Frugal or cheap? Don’t know. I don’t go to too many movies & when I do it’s with a bag full of candy bought at the dollar store next door. We sometimes buy popcorn there. When we used to go to the nice theater in the city we’d buy dinner there, back when we didn’t have kids LOL!

  68. I have done this in theaters where there isn’t a policy against it. I don’t have a problem with it. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with an aunt who would take us to McDonald’s, as we wished, but brought in her own bag of Wendy’s because she didn’t like the food at McDonald’s. But that’s a different subject…

    And when I don’t bring my own, I don’t buy anything (ever), so it’s not as if bringing my snacks cuts into the profit margin of the theater.

  69. Hiya! We are sneakers here, and I really don’t feel guilty about it. We drop $50 on tickets before we even walk in the door. Then we walk up to the concessions stand and buy the large soda to split (or a few smaller ones) and we do buy a large bucket of popcorn to share most of the time, dropping another $20 or so. We could go two hours without junking out, but we don’t go to the movies very often and part of the treat of going is junking out!! :)

    I don’t think it’s the same as bringing your own food into a restaurant. You are going to a restaurant to eat a meal. Your sole purpose of going to the movies, isn’t to eat, it’s to see a movie. I don’t feel like that’s a fair comparison :)

    There aren’t signs posted in our theaters. I don’t feel like I’m breaking a law, in fact just the opposite because we do spend a pretty penny at concessions on other stuff :) If there were signs posted, I’d probably adhere to them to set an example to my children about following the rules.

    I do see both sides… and understand them, but yep, we are sneakers and I don’t see that changing as movie prices continue to rise and it gets more and more expensive! Our movie theater chains aren’t struggling. They are popping up with new theaters all over the place :)

  70. Maybe if they charged a reasonable price MORE PEOPLE WOULD BUY and less would be compelled to bring in their own snacks.

  71. I had a Manager friend that always gave me free admission to movies, although the requirement was that I bought a drink and something to eat from the concession stand. He explained that in his theater the cost of the movie and theater overhead was covered by the ticket price. He built in the profit through concession sales and derived his bonus based upon percentage increase in profits.

    He also indicated that as long as a particular movie had an average 2/3 attendance rate for the run of the film, all overhead was covered.

    He never seemed too worried about people bringing in outside candy, unless those people had free tickets. It was a small minority that planned ahead to bring snacks and often the smell of popcorn would reel them in to purchase something anyway. The smell of popcorn was his best advertising once people got inside the lobby of the theater.

  72. My dad and I have always smuggled in snacks–but when you’re on a diabetic diet, what can you do? He’s not allowed to eat the popcorn because of oil & salt, so we started sneaking in sugar-free candy, unsalted almonds, etc.

  73. I think taking in food to the movie is dishonest. Even if you are allergic to every single thing they offer, it’s only 2 hours tops and some church services last that long w/no junk food offered.

  74. I not only sneak in candy into the movies, but diet coke too. If I have to pay $50 for a family of 5 for a movie I will not continue to hemorrhage cash at the snack bar. I consider myself a frugal person with an occassional lapse in judgement when I do splurge and take the family to a movies. Anyone who turns their nose up at sneaking snacks into the movies and would rather pay those insane prices is not cheap or frugal, but probably really broke.

  75. I usually borrow movies from the library (amazing how quickly they get all the new titles in!), so haven’t had to face this issue in a while. But when I did, I would attend the cheaper matinee instead of the evening show, and eat before I go.

    I have no problem with people bringing in their own snacks, but discretion is key here. A small candy bar is fine, but a huge bag of (noisy to boot!) chips isn’t cool. And pizza? Out of the question. I mean, we’re talking candy, not dinner! I think the rule of thumb should be that if you can put it in your pocket, fine, if not, it’s too big. As for water, I never buy the bottled stuff, but simply ask for tap water wherever I go.

  76. This may be getting into slippery ground, but I don’t feel badly about bringing my own food into a movie when the prices the theater charges are so much more than what the supermarket or even convenience store charges. If they charge a price so much higher than the market, then they will forego business. If the theater only charged, say, $0.50 more than a 7-11 did, then that would be more reasonable and I’d be more likely to choose to pay that much in return for convenience. But if a theater charges $1.50 more, then they don’t get my business.

    I know they have their rules, but I believe that as consumers we deserve to question whether the rules are reasonable, and act accordingly. For instance, asking people to turn their cell phones off is perfectly reasonable because taking or making calls disrupts the experience of everyone around you. In the case of the candy, the prices are not reasonable. They allow people to snack in the theater, so it’s not a concern about trash or hygeine, and bringing your own doesn’t disrupt the movie for anyone. But their rules establish that you are obliged to pay an unreasonable price in return for your snack, so that they can make an unreasonable profit on it. I think that if they wanted my business, they’d ask a reasonable price instead of insulting me.

    Again, slippery ground, but when breaking the rules doesn’t create an additional burden on the maker of the rule, and I think the rules are unreasonable, I break them and don’t feel guilty about it. It is not stealing. If I took their property, that would be stealing. If I snuck into another movie after the one I paid for was over, that would be stealing, because I only bought a ticket for one movie. If I videotaped a movie in the theater, that would be stealing (from the movie distributor). Bringing a snack is not stealing, although it is breaking the rules. Still slightly unethical, for which I am responsible.

    In actuality, if I bring anything into the theater, it’s a protein bar or an apple, which they don’t offer for sale anyway. And truthfully, the ridiculous prices keep me away from the candy, so in a way it works *for* me, not against me. If the candy were reasonably priced, I’d buy it and eat it.

  77. If cheap = bad, and frugal = good, then sneaking candy into a theater is frugal, smart, and acceptable. My guidelines: if something is so incredibly overpriced as to simply constitute consumer gouging, then I feel no shame in subverting their attempt at gouging me. If that candy was priced at $1.75 a box, they would sell so much candy that they would help their bottom lines more than they do by selling a few boxes of candy at $3.75 a box. I would never buy candy for that much, ever, so it is not hurting the theater for me to bring in my own.

  78. Ha, ha! I totally do this.

    I go to the gas station right next to the movie theatre and get candy and 2 bottles of Coke to put in my purse. I don’t know if it’s frugal or cheap, but I don’t really care! It’s not like there are signs posted that say you can’t bring your own food. However, I’m too embarrassed to bring in a can or something that the movie theatre obviously doesn’t sell.

    And I know if it is against the rules that it’s not right to do it just because movies are overpriced, but come on! I have to watch like 15 minutes of advertising before a movie now, and the prices just keep getting higher!

  79. Not cheapskate to me at all. I do it all the time : )When I was a child, we used to sneak in popcorn! But I don’t do that now, just candy : )

  80. Thank you Em for commenting on obesity. It seems to me that if you can’t survive sitting on your backside for two hours without eating then you have bigger problems than worrying about whether you are cheap or frugal!
    IMHO if there are signs stating “no outside food” then you should comply, if you must eat during a movie, absorb the cost and go less often. Maybe a nice frugal walk would be a good alternative?

  81. I was totally surprised to see how many people thought that was a cheap move!

    It’s definitely frugal in my view. Movie theatres are primarily to see movies. If I don’t like their food, or their food prices (and I don’t like both!), then there’s no harm in bringing my own.

  82. I have sneak Starbuck’s latte’s into the theater as well as little snacks. I feel that is fine because they do not serve latte’s and I do not drink soda and I do not want a whole box of candy. Now the $2.50 show I can see buying from the concession, but when you have to pay $8 for each family member….hello who has any extra for snacks.

  83. Excuse me…just because people want to eat food at the movies doesn’t mean they are pigs … I don’t *have* to eat a movie theater but it’s part of the whole experience. We don’t generally eat when watching a movie at home. But when we go to the theater it’s a special event and part of that is treats like popcorn, soda, and maybe some candy. I’ve been trying to eat healthier so I’d rather bring in my own almonds and raisins so I can still snack during the movie. I see nothing wrong with that.

    So lay off the obesity crap, k? :)

  84. @ Casto- I actually agree, it can be part of the experience to eat popcorn etc at a theater, so budget for it. It’s if you are smuggling stuff in so that you can eat without having to pay that I have issues with.
    And really, while I was having a bit of fun with the obesity comment, it certainly isn’t crap when you see the statistics for this country!

  85. Is obesity a problem in this country? Yup. But that’s not the point. The movie theater doesn’t sell almonds and raisins. So I bring them in myself. And I don’t feel a single twinge of guilt. I’ve taken food into a fast food restaurant before too. I took Subway into a McDonalds because that’s not what I wanted to eat, but everyone else wanted it. I didn’t feel bad or guilty and didn’t get a single word from the McDonald’s staff. I’ve also brought grapes into a sit down restaurant. And didn’t feel bad at all. Eating is a social event in this country and if I’m trying to watch my weight I have very few choices to participate. I’ve never had a word said.

    Someone else mentioned that it’s legal to take in bottled water. I’d like to know what that law is called. Although I generally do buy their bottled water since its cheaper than the soda. And it’s silly for the government to mandate such a thing for a private business, but if they did I want to print out the law and take it with me next time. lol

  86. I have a problem with places that outlaw it, because I have food allergies and do not trust other people’s food. So to say I am not ‘allowed’ to bring my own, to that I will say ‘are you going to pay me $120 for the epi-pen if I have to use it due to having a reaction to your food?’ I am quite happy for those I go with to buy concession food (and when I take my little brother, I always buy him something) so I am not opposed to the idea of buying food (even over-priced food) at a movie. But to actually ban outside food, I think, is going too far.

  87. We bring our own everytime. I don’t feel any guilt.

    After reading this last night, we went to a movie (at the $2 theater with our own food). It made me question the fact that in most movie theaters, we’re now paying for the priveledges of watching commercials before the previews, before the movie. That bothers me, but apparently it’s going to be the new trend in theaters. If so, again, I have no guilt bringing my own food with me in exchange for sitting through the stupid commercials.

  88. I bring my own snacks and sometimes beverages to the movie theater all the time. I do so primarily for health reasons but also for frugality. The prices charged for concessions in my area are RIDICULOUS. At the one or two arthouse theaters that have more reasonable prices, I will buy coffee to help support their business. At chains like AMC, Regal, etc. I rarely buy concessions and choose to eat elsewhere instead.

    My parents grew up in the Depression, where movies were 5 cents and you could stay the entire day if they wanted (2 features, cartoons, newsreel). My grandmothers always packed them lunches and they got whatever was available (Jelly sandwiches, leftovers…) They got 5 cents for candy, which they bought at the drugstore and brought in to the theater. They taught me to be frugal in the same way, and I am so grateful for their lessons.

    I think that it’s absolutely fine to bring in outside food to a movie theater, as long as one is clean, neat, and unobtrusive about it. (I would not bring pungent smelling chinese takeout to a film. I would not bring in outside food or beverages to a cafe or restaurant because the PRIMARY business of a restaurant is to serve food and beverages.

    An exception to this rule is concerts. At many music concerts in my area, bags are searched and outside food and beverages are prohibited. Bottles are prohibited for safety reasons, but the security also confiscates outside food. For the rare concert I attend, I just plan to spend extra for food and beverages.

    D.B.

  89. I haven’t been to a movie in a theater in almost 3 years, but when we did used to go to movies, we rarely bought concessions (usually only when we were really thirsty). The thought of spending $3.00 – probably more nowadays – on a small box of candy has always been horrific to me, so we sometimes had a quick bite of fast food (off the dollar menu) before or after the movie. It made the outing more fun to have 2 places to go instead of one.

    As for the ethics of it, I suppose if you decide to frequent a business, you should respect their policies. Besides, it would be really embarrassing to get caught…

  90. It’s interesting to read the various opinions on this. I don’t bring outside food into a place that has a policy against it — I either cough up the cash (rarely) or skip the refreshments (usually).

    I come from a family of five kids. My mom used to lie about our ages when there was money to be saved (e.g., movies, amusement parks). I think back on those times and wonder if she ever saw the disconnect between her actions at the ticket booth and her parental insistence on our honesty. It’s hard to expect your kids not to lie when they’ve seen you do it without a second thought.

    I want to be an honest person, and the money I’d save is not worth the price I’d pay in terms of my own integrity.

  91. Please,Please,Listen and comprehend the question that was asked:”I posed that question to the Wise Bread forums a couple weeks ago and received some interesting responses. It seems a majority of people there think the practice is acceptable, as long as there aren’t signs posted specifically forbidding the practice.” Look all of you. I asked a member of my family who manages a well known theater about this and he said to me that the ticket sales just to get into the movies pays for everything that it costs to run the theater plus gives them a very large profit margin. Buying the food or candy etc is like total extra cream for the theater owners. If you think it’s cheap to do this when there is no rule set by the theater expressly banning the bringing of food or drinks into the movie then please feel free to waste your money and feel superior to those who have enough sense to save there. I know a billionaire that used to bring food to a theater by the name of Harrah, his motto was take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. Was he cheap I think not, what he is, is a very wealthy and wise man.

  92. Bill, as I (and several others) have said, I won’t bring outside food into a place that has a policy against it. If the theater has a sign posted that says “No outside food,” as do most of the theaters in my area, I’m not going to break their rule no matter how I feel about their prices.

    They have the right to set their prices, and I have the right to choose not to patronize them if I think their prices are too high. But I’m not about to break their rules just to save a few bucks — it’s just not worth it to me.

  93. Wow what a loaded question.
    Being a parent with 3 kiddies we rarely go due to the cost init self just to buy the tickets for the whole family to see a movie – if the theartres ban brought in food they will lose us totally as customers as we simply cannot afford it. We have paid our ticket that is what we are there for – I take our own snacks. But having said that I also dont take in things that will make a mess – I really think that is what mostly the theartes have a real problem with as they have to clean the rooms – having to clean up kfc bones, bits of burger sauces and salads you can understand they don’t wish to do that. I also understand they wish to increase profit margins but I think they are unfortently so out of whack that they could start to totally lose customers.

  94. I’m a bit late to this post, however, I wanted to note that I am an AMC Moviewatcher member and they allow you to bring your own food and drinks into the theater. I was told that as long as the smell of your food isn’t offensive to other patrons, you are good to go. This information isn’t highly publicized, however, it was a definite fact a few years ago. I asked customer service myself. I haven’t tried it since, however. One day i walked in with a soda from a fast food restaurant and a full bag of food. No worries. Unless the rules have changed, there should be no problem.

  95. I’m on the fence on this one… while part of me says its being cheap, the other part of me is outraged by how expensive movie tickets and movie refreshments are these days. So I compromise… the candy I usually sneak in, but I buy popcorn and a soda at the theater.

  96. I guess I’m a cheapskate, because I don’t feel guilty about sneaking candy and soda in at all!

    In our first few months of marriage, my husband and I lived behind a dollar theater. We would pop our own popcorn at home, hide it in my tote bag, and dig out some quarters for the movie. I wouldn’t do the popcorn thing now, but at the time, we were so poor I was in shock when I found out how little we’d survived on that year.

    I justify sneaking consessions in, by figuring that if a person has enough money to own a theater, then they have more money than me, and they can handle losing a few dollors on cheapskates like me. (I realize this may not be the smartest way to look at it, but it makes me feel better thinking it!)

    We rarely go to the theater anymore. It costs us around $50 between tickets, consessions, and a babysitter- we just don’t have that kind of spare change laying around.

  97. Wow, what a bunch of cheapskates. :)

    No one likes to think what they’re doing is wrong or cheap. But that doesn’t mean you’re not wrong or cheap.

    Personally, I think if there is a sign posted that says no outside food, then you are wrong and cheap if you sneak food in. If there is no sign (or they specifically say it is allowed), then it is probably ok. But you should check with management on their policy.

    You are utilizing someone else’s business, so respect it. You aren’t God, the world doesn’t revolve around you, and you aren’t entitled to do whatever you feel like.

    The only gray area I see is the commenter who mentioned trail mix or “healthy” snacks. In that case, I would probably just not eat anything, but I can also see why you’d want to bring something in. Potentially, you could work something out with the manager.

  98. Jeez, Deep, you make it sound like the world is going to come crashing down because a few people sneak snacks into the theater.

    Work something out with the manager? Are you seriously going to go to the manager and tell him/her that you’d prefer to bring in your own healthy snack, and you’d like to work out some sort of arrangement? Just take it in!

    I’m willing to be that a lot of people (like me) are either choosing between bringing something of their own, or going without eating. Each person making that choice has already decided that they aren’t going to buy concessions anyway. As long as they throw their trash away, the theater really isn’t harmed.

  99. NOT sneaking candy would be the single most idiotic thing one could do. What’s dishonest is a place charging $20.00 for a small popcorn and three napkins.

    Load up and enjoy.

  100. I had to come back to this. We just went to the movies last weekend and spent $32 for TWO. That included the coupon price for the movie itself ($6 each) and a small popcorn, one medium drink, and a hot dog. Oh and a coffee. All that cost us $20! So I don’t feel a single bit guilty for bringing in candy to munch on during the movie.

  101. I’ll make another argument on the side of frugality:

    How is bringing your own snack into a movie theatre different than bringing one into a garage that has vending machines and a sign telling you not to bring in your own food? Just because the service they offer traps you in their environment for a couple of hours doesn’t mean they have they right to dictate what you eat. They can TRY to assert that right, and you can, of course, ignore that assertion.

    If, on the other hand, movie theatres called themselves restaurants, and were up front about the business they are in, I wouldn’t bring in my own food.

  102. Hi there–I thought I would offer the perspective of both a father who gets the rare movie date with my spouse and as a manager of a nonprofit movie theatre…

    I can sympathize that concessions can be seen as expensive…but let me reveal the economics not being considered:
    generally, the film studio gets a 50% share of the box office gross–sometimes even higher and often a fixed rate for the length of a four week engagement…so lets say a film makes $24,000 over four weeks at a 50% share-$6,000 a week average–the theatre keeps $12,000. Now our occupancy costs are approx. $6,000 a month so that $12K becomes $6K. Staffing for a month will run about $9,000, so that now becomes -$3,000.

    Ok, we are a non profit, one-screen so we have to compensate for our shortfall by donations, memberships, on screen advertising, etc. But, now you may see why concessions–which the theater keeps 100% of–is important to a theatre’s survival…even the big chains face this same predicament–I’m not saying you should feel sorry for them but understand that the money made on concessions makes it possible for all theatres to supplement the cost of showing a film which are substantial and no one gets a discount from the film studio!

  103. PS: from a CNN article
    “Higher concession prices, which can be 80% profit, generally help theaters deal with rising costs more than higher ticket prices do. ‘About 55% of the admission fee goes to the film’s distributor,’ says Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research at the National Association of Theatre Owners. ‘Concessions generate about 20% of revenue but up to 40% of profit’, he says.”

  104. I totally agree with you. The movies is way to much money. I don’t understand why it costs so much money for water.

  105. aww but sneaking candy into the movies is one of the best parts of seeing a movie.. do you people really analyze how right or wrong everything you do is. live a little. it’s human nature to step on other peoples toes a little to get ahead, and sneaking candy into a theatre isn’t gonna hurt anyone too bad

  106. sigh…I guess it was wishful thinking that by explaining the economics of a small theatre [my post on sept 18] that some would see that your saving a few bucks by sneaking in food isn’t frugal–it is cheap.

    Our large popcorn is $4.50 which is lower than most and our large soda is $3.75 and water is $2.00 so I understand that for a couple or a family it is tempting and seemingly reasonable to sneak in food but movies are extremely expensive to show so the concession is really just supplementing the cost of bringing you the films you want to see…if you ever wonder why seemingly successful movie theatres have gone out of business it isn’t hard to figure out…
    So, we will often catch people sneaking food and we ask them to either throw it out or place it in their car–that may seem Big Brotherish but without that revenue stream we are out of business next month…

  107. Likely there is small print on the ticket that states outside food and drink are prohibited. Cheap or not, I stopped sneaking in candy long ago. Morally speaking, I didn’t want my kids to see me break a rule for my convienience and the sake of a few dollars. By choosing to visit a theater with a no outside food rule, I agree to follow their rules. I could always wait and watch it in the comfort of my own home thanks to Blockbuster. It is already hard enough teaching my kids to be moral and law abidding, and then tring to teach them about things like Civil Disobedience for a good cause, or fighting back against a bully. If it is a rule, and you don’t like it, don’t go. For me it isn’t worth losing my kids respect over a silly bit of candy or to save a couple of bucks. I will point out that I spoke to a theater manager about the possibility of bringing in a low sugar healthy snack (for health reasons), and he was very understanding, allowed it, and just asked for some discretion on our part. Typically, we just rent our movies, but when we go to the theater we go out to eat beforehand or just buy the big concession stand special and share.

  108. I have to say frugal.

    Besides water being 3 dollars a bottle, it drives me up the wall that they are still using saccharin sweetner in the diet soft drinks just cause it saves a couple of cents.

    They finally went to a mix of artificial sweetners, but I can still taste the saccharin.

    If they won’t offer us what we want to eat and drink, it is not being cheap to bring what you want.

  109. Are you guys all lunatics??? Bringing a box a candy to munch while you’re in the cinema is cheap??? That’s not cheap or frugal, it just is your right. Where are you going to draw the line… a stick of gum or breath mint???

    I can understand not letting someone bring a pizza in, or a cooler of beer, but come on…you all have lost your minds. If the movies can’t manage a place and make money of their sales of tickets and their concession stand which should be seen as a convenience..yes you pay more, but that’s what you get if you didn’t prepare ahead, kind of like going to an airport.. if that is the case then they should find new management. It’s your responsibility to buy their overpriced popcorn if you don’t want to. And it’s not their right to right to tell you what you stuff in your bag on the way in , unless it is something really illegal…guns, knives, narcotics.

    I think people here have lost their minds, really.

  110. I say who cares, go to your movie and enjoy it, live life to its fullest, I sneak bottles of pop and candy into the movies all the time. If you get caught you get caught. If you dont I guess that means your good at hiding snacks

  111. I think it’s frugal. After Christmas we all still had so much candy that I put some in my purse and handed it out during the movie. I did buy us popcorn and a drink. I make sure we clean it up. With a family of 5 we already paid $50.00

  112. I think there is a bit of misinformation about there about movie theaters. I didn’t get a clear picture of the revenue/cost structure until I started working at a movie theater, albeit a independently locally owned one.

    How much do the typical movie theaters (Regal, AMC) make from one ticket? 10%. So when they charge you $9 for a ticket, they only make $.90. It’s no wonder they charge so much for concessions. If they didn’t they wouldn’t stay in business.

    This Catch-22 of high prices for the theater industry is forced by production studios. They are the ones requiring 90% of ticket sales, which pretty much requires theaters to charge ridiculously for concessions.

    I think the theaters should try to lower prices, which the studios only partially regulate, in order to ease the pain of buying tickets, and hopefully lowering concession prices as well. Then their supply/demand curve might be optimized, and hit a nice equilibrium.

    Vote: Cheap. If you don’t like the rules of a business, don’t go there! You have plenty of options on how to watch movies.

  113. Well…..where I live, this isn’t a problem. I see film at the Wilton T.H. Theater in Wilton, NH and you can see a new release film, get a drink and a popcorn…..with REAL melted butter (and it is soooo good!) all for ten dollars. Go ahead ….pick your jaw up off the floor…..it’s true and it’s wonderful.

  114. You know it is bad enough that they expect you to pay 12 dollars to see a movie. Now they think they can force you to buy a candy bar for twice what it is worth, or watered down soda and stale popcorn. What a deal! Think I will stay home. Thats my last trip to the movies I will wait for the dvd!

  115. It is definitel dishonest. Parents that sneak in snacks to a movie theater are teaching their kids that it is OK to break rules, and that it is OK to be dishonest. If you can’t pay for snacks, stay home and watch a movie or just don’t eat snacks during the movie.

  116. Who cares what people think about bringing in snacks to the movie theatre. I don’t go very often and I don’t like many of the snacks the theatre has…so, I bring my own. You’re not going to stop me so …I’ll continue to do what’s best for me. Sorry, but that’s the way things are now. Deal with it.

  117. LOL this is funny my cousin and I were just talking about this the other day……I say purchase you items prior to getting into the movies. It’s not being cheap it’s being smart !!There is a recession going on, bad enough we are paying way too much money for the tickets. so when you add the snacks into that total bill you almost spent around 30 to 50 bucks on one nights entertainment. I would rather keep that 50 bucks go buy some shoes and wait till the movies comes out on dvd and pay for a previously viewed copy from hollywood video for $5.00.

  118. You know, people would be more willing to buy snacks at the theater concession stands if they’d drop the prices a bit.

    Even if they were higher than the store price, but not the crazy amount they are now.

    Even with a lower price, the theaters would make more, because far more people would give in the the convience of buying on the spot.

  119. When I was a kid, going to the movies was a special treat. My mother always told us “You go to the movies to see the film not to eat.” So it always blows my mind to see people walk into the theatre and go directly to the concession stand to load up, even if they just left the dinner table.

  120. I have absolutely no problem with bringing food into a movie theater. The prices they charge are ridiculous. If the prices were more “realistic” more people would buy food and drinks. It is really nice having a dollar store across the street from the theater. You can buy the large box of Hot Tamales or Dots for $1 as opposed to $4.00 or $4.50. Hey,how about this idea… The movie theater buys their candy at the dollar store for $1.00 and sells it for $2.00 at the theater. For $1.00 more, most people would not bother making an extra stop.

  121. “Who cares what people think about bringing in snacks to the movie theatre. I don’t go very often and I don’t like many of the snacks the theatre has…so, I bring my own. You’re not going to stop me so …I’ll continue to do what’s best for me. Sorry, but that’s the way things are now. Deal with it.”

    buxita, I wonder if you were the one trying to run a business and people ignored your posted policy’s and then told you to ” deal with it ” if you tried to enforce the policy how you would react. Would you simply let them ignore the policy or would you deny them entrance to your business?

    Bottom line. If theaters do not make good money, and I mean REAL good money, at their snack bar they will close or be forced to shift to being a ” Discount Theater ” that can’t get a print for 5-10 weeks after the ” 1st Run ” theaters.

    It is insanely expensive to operate a theater and most to the revenue from ticket sales goes to the studios. Your big urban multi-plex theater might, if their lucky, get to keep $2.50 out of the $12.00 they charge for their ticket. AND if they tried lowering their ticket prices the the studios would simple not give them the movie on the break and everyone would drive across town to see the film at the theater that has the ” New ” film. Most film goers simply will not wait.

    Oh something in the news this week, two major theater chains, AMC and Regal I think, announced this week that they are going to be enforcing a strict ” No outside food or drink ” policy. This is not a “New” thing for them, they have had this policy for a long time, they are just making a point to alert people that they are going to be cracking down.

  122. Work something out with management? We aren’t free to do what we want? What kind of pansies are you? You ARE free to do whatever you want. As long as you aren’t tearing up the theater seats and yelling profanities during the flick, damn right you can bring food in. Hell, I’ll bring a 4-course meal and a cooler full of ice cream if I want, because this is the free world – not communist Russia or a Chinese prison camp. Just because there’s a sign doesn’t mean it’s right. Go follow signs and live like a sheep if you want. I’ll be exercising my free will and jaywalking all over town.

  123. I don’t mind admitting that I bring my own candy in when I’m at the theater. My reasoning?

    A) Theaters near me obviously make loads of money off of ticket sales. (most theaters near me charge $12+ per ticket – at a chain in Arizona called Harkins, it’s $7. I doubt the studios are charging the huge companies like Regal and AMC more than they are charging a small company like Harkins.)

    B) I’m a college student. I’m lucky if I can afford a movie ticket in the first place. I can’t afford to pay triple or quadruple the amount just so they make ridiculous profit. The store I buy my $1 box of candy from is making a profit off of it, so why does the theater feel it should be able to make triple the profit the grocery store makes? Because they know they can charge it and people will pay it.

    I do, however, always buy a drink. For two reasons: I’m always thirsty, and I know how much profit they make on sodas. I’m a manager at Arby’s and we make more than 300% profit on soda. A movie theater sells a drink for around $4, whereas my 300% calculation is based on a $1.59 drink, putting their profit at around $750%. By the time I’ve left the theater, they have made ridiculous profits off of me without me buying their overpriced candy.

  124. I’ve done it before, not with candy but with a bag of salad- I was hungry, but didn’t want candy. No one really cared.

  125. I’ll sneak in my own candy to the theater, but I do also tend to buy the smallest bag of popcorn & a drink (that was likely a “supersize” when I was like 5). While I’m not justifying the “loss” the theater is getting, I’d rather shell out the $3 for a bag of candy that gives me a large quantity, than $3 for mostly air.

  126. Man, f**k what all these other people are talkin about. Sneakin in candy is 100% acceptable. Why should I be forced to buy overpriced products from you in order to enjoy the service I paid for? Hell, even they weren’t overpriced. Doesn’t matter.

    This practice doesn’t fly to many other places. It’s not like a college can tell you that you HAVE TO buy your stationary from their on-site store. Fast food joints sell sodas, but if you come in a with a can of Coke, they don’t make you throw it away.

    And besides, how can you prohibit people from possessing items that are 100% legal to possess? It’s my God given & constitutional right to own Chex Mix & eat it whereever the fuck I want.

    And let’s not forget the fact that movie theaters don’t sell every kind of snack. What if Chips Ahoy cookies are the only snack I like but they don’t sell it? Should I be coerced into buying M&M’s in the event that I get hungry?

    And as far as the “Movie theatres make their bones on concessions, not tickets” argument, that to me sounds like it’s just plain untrue OR movie theaters just need to negotiate a better deal with the studios. If movie theaters are paying the overhead of running a theater and not gettin a fair share of the tickets, that’s on them. That’s just a stupid way to run a business. Don’t gouge the customers on snicker doodles to make up for it. Not only is this a sh***y thing to do to customers, but it reduces patronage. If, say, I only have $27 of spare cash to spend on a date for the movies. Without this rule, I could put aside $24 bucks for the 2 $12 tickets and buy 3 $1 snacks from a 99c store. I’m good to go. But because of this rule, I now have to budget in AT LEAST 3 theater bought snacks that run on average $3.50 a pop. Now that’s $24 + $10.50. Now we’re lookin at $34.50+tax. Now I just can’t possibly afford it. So I just don’t ask my chick on a date & the movie theatre gets nothin.

  127. My husband and I are seniors. We barely make enough to live on day-to-day. We have to go to the matinee when we go (I cannot tell you the last time we went to the movie, actually). I also just finished radiation treatment for the second time for cancer (twice in two years) and my husband is disabled. I am NOT about to pay $3+ for a box of candy when I can get one for a dollar elsewhere NOR $6 for a drink. Do you know that it costs McDonald’s 8 cents for a large Coke and you are charged what……$1.85? That being said, I have sneaked in a huge glass of ice before and a couple of cans of soda. We eat pretty healthy so we don’t eat candy. NOWHERE at the theater do I see where it says “No outside food or beverages.” It would not matter if it did. I do not see it as immoral but as the only way we can go out for entertainment and truly enjoy the evening.

    Think about this — we have to pay school taxes when we have NEVER had children in a public school and certainly are too old to have children in school now. Why is that fair?

    Life is full of unfair situations and always will be, but paying for a movie and then having to fork out as much or MORE for popcorn, candy and a cola….NO WAY!! IF the theaters charged a fair price for these items, I would not object, but they don’t.

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