Movie theaters are associated with dating, popcorn and expensive treats.
Sometimes couples go to a movie theater for the additional reason that it provides the possibility of intimacy, where the dark provides some privacy (with additional privacy in the back-row). This kind of intimacy is considered by some a lesser form of public display of affection. Compared with being together in a room without other people, it may also be reassuring for one or both of the couple (and for parents) that the intimacy is necessarily limited.
Arm rests pose a hindrance to intimacy for some people. Some theaters have love seats: seats for two without an armrest in the middle. The most modern theaters have movable armrests throughout the theater that when down can hold a food container as well as act as an armrest or partition between the seats and when up allow closer contact between the couple. Some theaters such as the Parkway in Oakland, California have sofas for greater comfort.
Foyer area, food and drinks
Movie theaters usually sell various snack foods and drinks at retail counters or kiosks. Sometimes it can be a self-service where one pays at the counter till, and/or a coin-operated machine. Sometimes the area of sale is more like a self-service shop or kiosk (it is not suitable for consuming the goods), and one pays at the check-out between the shop and the area with the screens. Foods usually served at movie theatres include popcorn, soft drinks, nachos, hot dogs, ice creams and a wide range of confectionery. At most theatres, people are allowed to select their own sweets (known as “pick and mix”.)
The concessions for buying snacks and drinks often represent the theater’s primary source of profit (snacks make up 20% of revenue but 40% of profits in the United States theaters, with a box of popcorn generating a profit of 85%) since most of the ticket revenue goes to the film distributor (and onward to the movie studio). Bringing one’s own food and drinks may be forbidden (although not always strictly enforced) in order to maintain a captive market, so theaters charge prices often threefold or higher than nearby stores, while popcorn has been marked up 900% according to CNN. Some movie theaters forbid eating and drinking inside the viewing room (restricting such activities to the foyer), while others encourage it by fitting cup holders on the arm rests (on the front side of the arm rests of one’s own chair, or the back side of the arm rests in front) and selling large portions of popcorn and soft drinks. According to a report by Time Magazine, “Theaters, it’s been said, are really in the popcorn and candy business. The showing of films is just an excuse to gather a crowd and try to sell them buttery snacks and sugary drinks.”
Retail is currently a huge area of expansion with many companies in the U.S. offering a wider range of snacks, including hot dogs and nachos. Some movie theaters feature a wider selection than simply snacks and popcorn. These “dine-in” theaters allow patrons to purchase “meals” (ranging from pizza slices to hamburgers and more) that can be consumed while watching the movie. Many theaters have embraced the “brew and view” concept, serving alcoholic beverages, in addition to snacks and popcorn. Some movie theaters such as the Living Room Theaters or Alamo Drafthouse offer full restaurant service at one’s seat, though this is not as widespread. McMenamins is a chain of restaurant/brewpub establishments in the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, many of which have full movie theaters.
The health benefits of this cinema food are generally low, and have been debated for years. Owner of Sony Pictures, Michael Lynton, has been one of the chief arguers over this, and has wanted cinemas worldwide to stop providing this junk food and instead provide healthier alternatives, like crudités, smoothies, nuts, granola bars and additive-free air-popped popcorn.
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