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Money Poll #19: Movie Snacks

Written by Nickel - 16 Comments

My recent revelation that we bring snacks into the movie theater from outside seems to have struck a chord with some, and touched a nerve with others. Given this, I thought that it would be fun to formalize this issue into a poll. And thus I bring you Money Poll #19, which asks “Do you bring snacks/drinks into the movie theater?” As I noted in my previous post on this topic, we bring snacks with us on those rare occasions when we actually go to the theater to see a movie. When it comes to drinks, however, we either go without or we spring for a jumbo Sprite and share it (those caffeine-free drinks are critical when you’re sharing with a young kid!). So how do you do it? Come on, spill the beans…

Do you bring snacks/drinks into the movie theater?
View Results
Published on September 18th, 2006
Modified on September 15th, 2007 - 16 Comments
Filed under: Frugality, Polls

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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16 Responses to “Money Poll #19: Movie Snacks”

  1. 1
    Joy Says:

    We don’t go “out to the movies” very often. When we do, we purchase popcorn & drink at the theater. It’s part of the experience on our big day out. I carry a couple of juice boxes for our younger children (no sodas), and a small bag of dried fruit, since we aren’t candy eaters. My husband & I can go w/out for a couple of hours if we’re on a date and trying to save money.
    Most theaters have a “no outside food” clearly posted. I agree to that when I purchase a ticket. It is only because of the special circumstance with youngsters that I would even consider skirting the rules. If the products I bring for my little ones were available there, I would purchase at the theater. I don’t try to hide what I’m doing, and have never been confronted when popping a straw into apple juice, even when I do it right at the concession stand.

  2. 2
    HC Says:

    If I’m going to a full-service movie theater and expect to pay full price, I’ll smuggle in the occasional snack (and, if my purse allows it, a small water bottle). I also have a MovieWatcher card, and so I might buy snacks at the theater if I know I have enough points to get a discount.

    If I go to the second-run movie theater where my ticket is at most $5.50 (and possibly $2.75 or even $1 if I go with a coupon or on Dollar Mondays), then I don’t bring anything in. I get water for free and then buy an actual meal off the menu (between $7-$11 with tip) because I want the theater to stay in business and to expand its programming.

  3. 3
    Blaine Moore Says:

    We usually go without; if it is a regular theater, we might sneak some snacks in and occasionally a drink but usually not. However, there’s a cinema pub near here where we buy there since the idea is you are watching a movie while they serve you burgers or fried foods of one sort or another.

  4. 4
    YPFBlog Says:

    We sometimes go get snacks at another store in the mall and just bring those in…we still do buy a soda at the theater though.

    We would not do this is the snacks at the theater were not so ridiculously over-priced. They are charging $4 – $5 for a snack that is at most $2 at Target or CVS in the mall. I also can’t stand buying the soda at the theater since the charge for that is even more off than it should be, but I can’t really smuggle a cup of soda in.

  5. 5
    Kim Says:

    I voted for Yes on the snacks, but sometimes we buy concessions, sometimes we stop at Wal-Mart before for some candy, and sometimes we go completely without any snacks or drinks. If we’re in the mood for popcorn, then we buy it at the movie theater and almost always end up buying a soda to wash it down with.

  6. 6
    maribeth Says:

    Usually I don’t eat or drink during movies. Occasionally I decide I want popcorn, which I buy at the theater with a drink.

    The rare exception is a weeknight 7:30 movie, which is so early that I probably haven’t had time for dinner yet. Rather than go hungry, I snatch something from the cupboard or fridge and sneak it in. A homemade lamb sandwich beats a box of Junior Mints any day.

  7. 7
    bluntmoney Says:

    We buy popcorn and (since we don’t drink pop anyway…) have them give us water in a cup. Or sometimes my DH brings a water bottle with him.

  8. 8
    Dave Says:

    I always bring bottled water and sometimes something to munch on.

    You should not have to sneak in water. They will let you in with that.

  9. 9
    Medicated Money Says:

    Before I start blogging, I was the guy buying that large soda for $3.75 and the giant popcorn that could feed the Army of Switzerland for $5!

    However, since blogging and inspired by Mrs. Medicated oversized pocketbook, I have been bringing the trifecta into the theater – popcorn popped at home, candy, and a drink! I must admit, the first time I felt kind of guilty, then I remembered that they charge 5x the ‘we could charge this and still make a profit’ price!


  10. 10
    Matt Says:

    The first CVS drugstore I ever saw was in a shopping mall about 100 feet away from the entrance to the movie theater. This was years before CVS bought out one of the local chains…it was the only one in the state at the time. And their snack and drink merchandise was constantly turning over. :)

    We buy popcorn at the theater, if we have it at all, since bringing it in from outside just isn’t practical. But drinks and any other snacks we want, we bring in.

  11. 11
    Shawn Levasseur Says:

    I think that smuggling in food is unethical. The theatres state that bringing in outside food is not allowed. It’s their property they can make the rules.

    You think it’s unfair? Remember, the studios and distributors claim so much of the ticket price, that the concessions stand is a critical part of most theater’s profits.

    Better to plan on eating before or after the film.

    If you do buy popcorn and sodas, get the largest sizes of each, and share. In addition the the value of the volume, you usually can get a free refill of both the popcorn and the soda if you buy the largest size.

    I go that route if I’m seeing a two films back to back, and fill up between features. Sometimes I just refill on my way out and take home.

  12. 12
    nickel Says:

    Shawn: When you’re seeing two films back to back, do you leave and buy a ticket for the second one, or do you just wander into another theater?

  13. 13
    Susan Says:

    When my children were small, I would place popcorn that I popped at home and sometimes candy from the grocery store into a diaper bag. I was very quiet when I opened the canned soda for my husband and myself. They are in their 20s now; however, I am still a tightwad and enjoyed my free popcorn via the theater’s rebate card with a complementary cup of water. I wanted a soda but I just could not bring myself to give them $4. Oh yes, the ticket was $6.25 for a matinee.

  14. 14
    Shawn Levasseur Says:

    I buy both tickets at the same time. All theaters do same-day advance tickets.

  15. 15
    rob Says:

    The question I can’t figure out is why does the owner of the mall that the multi-plex is located, limit the number of food related tenants around the theatre. If I was the lessee of a theatre or multi-plex I would definitely want assurance that food would not be available within a 100 yard radius. But, of course, the mall owner is looking to make a profit also, so they will lease space to competitors (assuming the theatre makes the large majority of their money on concessions). Also, why does ads on theatre screens (before the movie starts) include nearby restaurants and eateries- ones that directly compete (except for popcorn, perhaps). ??

  16. 16
    rob Says:

    Sometimes I bring food in, sometimes I do not. Sometimes I do not eat at all. But, in typical theatres, there is little to no opposition for you to pay for one movie and see 2 or 3 or even 4 – the fact that you will get hungry on the third movie explains the lack of “protecting” people from going to movie to movie – also, trailers (head count) also may explain this….

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