Tuesday, March 2, 2010

AMC ...... IOU

First, let me say that I rarely go to a theater to see a movie. I used to, many years ago. But not now. Why is that you ponder? Because of the ticket prices? Partially. Is it because you can usually see any movie on DVD a couple of weeks after it shows in theaters? Partially. Or that you can definitely see most movies on cable in your own living room in peace and quiet by waiting just a couple more weeks? Partially. But the main reason I try to boycott the theaters..... they are slapping you in the face with their concession prices! 

We have a local AMC cinema that charges $4 per ticket for the first showing and sometimes it stays that price until 4pm.  It should still be $2 all the time but I can live with $4. But here's the catch: $5.50 for a SMALL popcorn! $4.25 for a SMALL soft drink! $3.25 for a SMALL candy bar! Or you can get all 3 in a "combo" for only $12.25. Yes, buy the combo and you save...wait....er, uh, you pay 25 cents more than if you bought them separately. Well, they do give you that nifty cardboard holder to carry it all in.

Those were the small size prices. How about $6.50 and $7.00 for a medium or large popcorn or $4.75 for a large drink? Sound better? How about a hot dog? How much can a wiener and bun cost? $4.50. Want an Icee? $5.00 for a small. OK, I'll just drink a bottle of water. $3.75. That's the prices at my local AMC theater!

So a family of four pays $16 for tickets and each gets a small popcorn and a small drink for $39 total. They just dropped $45 to see Avatar two weeks after it premiered! Welcome to show business.

Is this stupid? Crazy? Idiotic? Robbery? I'll go with the latter for the theater and the first three for the consumer.

Come on folks, stop this! You know popcorn costs $1.00 for 10 tons. And a small drink costs them maybe a nickel. You can find a 24-pack of bottled water for under $4. That's about 16 cents a bottle!! 

It's wrong. It should be stopped. How? Do NOT go to the movie theater. That's it. When they don't sell a ticket and the popcorn is getting stale and the soft drink is losing its fizzle then I bet we can get a $3 combo that consists of a small popcorn, drink and candy bar.

If you think you'll just stop buying their concession products and sneak in your own drink and snack (not me! Never! OK, who told you?), that won't work. They'll just raise the ticket prices to $15, like they already are in New York. But it would be fun wouldn't it? Just STOP buying anything they sell, pay the cheap matinee ticket price and watch the movie. Can you make it 90 minutes without stuffing junk food in your pie-hole? Then when they start losing money and finally raise ticket prices, stop going. 

We can control almost any retail price in this country. From movie tickets to gasoline. Just stop buying certain products or shopping at certain retailers and it would make prices drop. But we can't get 100 people to agree on the weather let alone boycott a product or service. 

But it's like I told my wife this past weekend as we bought our $4 tickets and we walked by the four-deep double lines at the concession stand: We are all lemmings walking over the cliff, one after the other. Our eyes staring straight ahead while we hand the kid a $10 bill for a small popcorn and drink. (Wait, you get a quarter back!) It is so obvious but yet we pay. We even say thank you after he hands us our quarter back. We even smile as we drop some of that platinum-priced popcorn while soaking it in melted-plastic-butter look-a-like.

 And so it goes, on and on, forever, like the movie title so aptly named for this puzzlement, from here to eternity.

And if you are one of the millions that pay the $10 price and never utter a word about it.......enjoy the show.

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