What The Devil Has Happened to Popcorn Prices?

Remember the good old days, when a family of four could go see a movie, snack on some popcorn, and still have change from two dollars? No, neither do I, but that's what was happening 80 years ago, during the Great (ie First) Depression.

It's not often that you'll see me quoting a story from Gizmodo, but this snippet of info is worth sharing.

In 1929, a small bag of popcorn at a movie theater cost $0.62 ($0.05 pre-inflation). Now it's a whopping $4.75. That's a rise of 666%. The tickets themselves have risen by a comparatively small 66%.

Why the increase? Because the production companies get the biggest cut of the proceeds from tickets, cinemas have to rely on sales of popcorn, soda and candy to make any money.

The article also alludes to the fact that we now all demand comfort when we see a film: swanky leather seats, surround sound, etc.

That has to be paid for somehow—and if the movie theaters aren't making enough money from the tickets, they have to raise prices on the extras.

Other factors include higher corn prices, higher paper pulp prices for packaging and higher fuel prices.

As the article explains, the size of the bag has no doubt gone up too, but there's still a massive disparity. At this rate, we'll all need an extra bank loan before stepping out the door.
Still, it doesn't seem to be deterring us: movie ticket sales have gone up 17.5% in the last year.

For many of us, sitting in the dark staring at a huge screen for two hours is a vital form of escapism during tough times. And I don't know about you, but, for me, I can't get through a film without munching my own body weight in popcorn (unless it's James Franco on the screen, but that's another story).

The winners in all this are the discount movie theaters. Vanessa Wilson at Woodbridge Movies 5 in Irvine, where tickets are just $1-$2, tells me that they have benefitted from a surge in popcorn sales during the recession, as moviegoers quite rightly reason that what they save on a ticket can be better spent elsewhere—on a bag of buttery bliss.


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