“Let’s NOT Go To The Lobby”

THE MIDDLE SEAT: Column by Steve Matuszak

It is time. In a column about the “movie-going experience” we have to address food.

When I was growing up, getting popcorn wasn’t a difficult choice. You either did or didn’t. And the only basis for your decision was your taste buds, which are quite diverse.

That is why it’s funny to me when someone says, “You don’t like _____________ (fill in blank with a food you hate and they like)?” To which I respond, “Your right! I apologize, my taste buds cause me to physiologically dislike beets, what the $@!$%#@ am I thinking?”

I digress. But point is, all you had to do when I was a kid was decide if you wanted popcorn or not. Sure, it was an extra cost, but not that much. Now I have to decide if I want to spend more than the movie on getting a snack! The cost of concessions is ridiculous! Parents are using VISA cards just to get the kids some gummy bears and a coke!

And don’t give me “Well, that’s how the theatres make their money”. It’s a way to make a ton more money. Plus, according to sound economic theory, you would make more if you sold more food for less money because more people would buy more food if it was affordable.

It’s exploitation! I lump movie theatres and airports together because they are both criminal in how they dish out an inferior product for a ludicrous price. And why do they do it? Because of the principle of “Geographical Gotcha!”

You are stuck in an airport, especially nowadays when the prospect of leaving the airport to grab some food is preposterous. First, no one wants to go through security more than once, except for those perverted few who enjoy the “pat down.” Second, the airlines always threaten to leave any minute during a 6-hour delay, so you exit the gate area “at your own risk.” And finally, they don’t let any restaurants near airport properties. Have you ever walked outside of a terminal? It’s a spooky concrete void. They have cleared the surrounding area outside airports like U.S. army firebases in Vietnam.

So, with no recourse for any other food, they jack the price and have ZERO incentive for quality or customer service. And movie theatres are the same. They do not allow you to bring anything in and thus all you have is what they have. It’s like getting stuck at Grandma’s house for dinner and she is making duck blood soup (true story!). But having a snack is a big part of the movie experience. And they are robbing me of that experience by jacking the bill so high I worry about my kids college fund.

Now, for me, popcorn is the ultimate movie food. That is why this is so insanely hard for me to write about – I LOVE eating popcorn at the movies. While I do not enjoy or understand other food choices, I do recognize that many people have many different “movie foods.” What’s yours? There are the candy people who love junior mints, jujyfruits, lemon drops and more. Then there are the really weird people who do nachos and hot dogs, which are more live sporting event foods.

Wait, that’s another place that jacks the bill and pilfers your money – stadiums. And man is that food AWFUL! Sure, they walk right up to you with the peanuts and such, but you actually have to wait in insanely long lines for Miller Lite and jalapeno nachos which taste curiously similar to the cardboard boxes they come in.

Wait, you have to wait in ridiculously long lines at the movie theatre as well! Man, this sucks more than I thought when I started writing this! And what really burns me up is that you have to wait in line, get criminally poor customer service and pay outrageous prices for something that sucks! When I was growing up it was cheap AND good!

Some theatres are offering $10 chicken fingers! Since when did concession start getting executive chefs? Who do you think is making those chicken fingers – Emeril? It’s more likely Bieber-fever Emily who is French-kissing Bruno behind the butter topping station.

And what is with the bizarre, neon-glowing glass case they keep this junk in. Do they really think I am going to equate their boxes of Junior Mints with jewelry? The neon fluorescent glow reminds me more of the lighting design for Robin Williams’ “One Hour Photo”.

And all of this awfulness we movie-goers suffer through is based on the supposedly controllable phenomenon called monopoly. There are normally only 1 or 2 major theatres in most cities/areas and thus the competition is non-existent! So the incentive is not there to serve people well or satisfy or retain customers. “Geographical Gotcha!”

Well, I say, fight back with me. I do not believe it is morally, spiritually or ethically wrong to consider bringing in at least a bottle of water with you to the movies so you don’t have to mortgage your kid’s future on a Mr. Pibb! Why do you think so many people wear cargo pants, oversized fleece and jackets tied around their waists to the cinema? Because they are cold? Well, actually it can get quite chilly in there …. but No! It’s because they are more creative at smuggling in contraband than a mafia felon’s family at Christmas.

There is no other way to fight them than with their own product! Rise up with me you cinema salty warriors! Let Raisinets and M&Ms be our ammunition, Twizzlers our arrows of misfortune that we shall sling at those Goobers who take our money for their outrageous fortunes! Out damn Dots, out! No longer shall we be Sour Patch Kids but rather we shall smile and be full of Chuckles as those Old Maids drop a few Milk Duds when they see us coming!! Revolution! Union! Sally Fields …. Cookies!

Do not pay $4 for bottled water! Would you rather do that or one day, dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all those Snow Caps, from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our movie theatre assistant manager enemies that they may take our debit cards, but they cannot take our ability to hide a Gatorade in the small of our back! Freedom! Freedom!


  1. Steve, I’m serious: I was actually thinking about that quote from Braveheart earlier today. Weird. I going to take that as a sign from God telling me to join your revolution. So at my next movie-going experience, I plan on sneaking in a few extra snacks to sell them on the down low inside the theater? I mean, for real, who’s going to stop me? The average age of a cinema employee is around twelve. Might as well try to make a profit to cover the outrageous cost of the movie.

  2. Oh yes yes. A stop to the local convenience store is a must on the way to the theatre. Unfortunately, they haven’t made smuggling popcorn in so easy….so I do often give in at the theatre. Not to mention they still try to upsell you on the package you bought – “for only 75c more, you can get a small soda with that” I reply, “no, thank you, I’ll make trips to the bubbler (that’s a water fountain for you non-east coasters).” Please make note that they have removed most of those as well. ANYWAY yes this is cause for angry/funny Steve to lash out. Steve, if you want to start this revolution, I’ll start passing out free candy and bottles of soda on a particular day out of my trunk so that every single person that walks into the theatre has their own goodies….and lots of them…. OR just stick with the cargo pants and large jackets….that works and makes you feel like you beat their system.

  3. isn’t sneaking in food to theaters to save money why I have that big ugly purse? Doesn’t every woman have a “movie sized purse”?

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