Despite a handful of blockbusters this year, movie theater attendance has been down at most of the national chains, and a peek into the new numbers from the 250-theater Carmike Cinemas shows why. According to an article at the Hollywood Reporter, the Georgia-based company's profits are down 7.4% over last year, but ticket sales are down only 6.9%. Concession sales, by contrast, are down 8.3%. That means people are going to the movies a little less and the ones who are going aren't buying the overpriced popcorn, soda, and candy as much.
Why is this worrisome to theater owners? Because in those Junior Mints and the slushies are the profits, often the only profits available to them. (Unless a film's a hit and sticks around for more than two weeks, the studios get most of the ticket revenue.) I doubt that America has gone vegan all of a sudden; what's more likely happening is that tough economic times are making the choice between paying $6.00 for a bag of Reese's Pieces or buying the same bag for half the price at the CVS next to the theater not much of a choice at all.
This puts the ball in the theater-owners' court. How can they make their concession offerings competitive with the outside world in a way that's acceptable to the average moviegoer? Me, I'd start by getting rid of those nacho platters with the nuclear cheese sauce. Is that stuff food or caulking?