Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Riske Business: 10 Reasons We Buy Overpriced Popcorn at the Movies
I have a weakness for walking straight ahead, and movie theaters have gotten wise to it. I’m pretty sure that’s what they discuss at Cinema Con each year. Seriously, though, the concession counter is like the impulse buys in a grocery store. It’s on your way and you’re always kind of hungry, right? So, why not stop and give Century Theaters a $6 donation?
The big theater chains are hit and miss when it comes to popcorn quality. Regal and Century theaters are good. AMC is pretty bad. The real deal popcorn is at repertory and art house theaters. These theaters often use real butter instead of butter flavored topping and you never see them using heat lamps. They keep it fresh, yo! Sometimes, though, art house theaters go too indie on their corn and it tastes like it was made by Lars Von Trier. The worst is the popcorn at Chicago’s Landmark Century Theaters. It tastes like it was gestating in a Prius for two weeks. I want my corn more Toronto Film Festival and less Tribeca Film Festival. If there’s a sticker on the bag that it was approved by Brit Marling, beware.
A few years ago, movie theaters started to set up tables with a variety of popcorn seasonings. Most are absurd. For example, there's Butter seasoning, which seems a little redundant. If your theater has the Butter seasoning, ask to speak with the manager. Tell him that it is his cavalier attitude about cost overhead that led to your small popcorn costing $6.50 instead of $6. If you don’t have a way with words, throw the Butter seasoning at his head. Other ridiculous seasonings I’ve seen are Barbecue (which I guess makes sense to people who put butter flavored topping on ribs) and Jalapeno (because popcorn is a popular Mexican dish). I do like the Carmel and Chocolate Marshmallow seasonings though. I put them on my popcorn whenever they are available. Yum
For some reason I feel bad when I’m not having popcorn at a big budget summer movie. The experience is all about excess, right? So I like to go for gluttony. The fighter pilot gets it.
Hey fellas, boo needs a snack. You might not want popcorn yourself, but she does, so you’re getting popcorn because she’s your shorty. If your girl is happy, you’re happy. And why else did you buy that new leather jacket? To impress her! And you’re going to stop short and not get her some corn? I don’t think so. Note: I’m pretty sure the couple on the right is on their way to see Fast & Furious 6. Getting your date some popcorn shows her your code is family. If you don’t, she’ll know your code is precision.
I can’t tell you how many times I don’t want popcorn but my family or friends do so I end up in line right behind them. Another test is when you’re in the theater already and your movie bud says “I’m going to the concession stand, do you want anything?” Damn right you do.
The people at AMC Theaters are geniuses. The first reason is for the invention of the AMC Stubs card, which gives the member $10 credit for every $100 they spend. My chimp brain goes “Cool, if I spend $15 right now, I’ll get to that $10 credit for next time! I’ll get popcorn, a Coke and some chocolate covered raisins.” People love achievements. The second reason is because AMC made their employees wear name tags with not just their name but also THEIR FAVORITE MOVIE. The best one I’ve seen is a teenager who had Shooter listed as his favorite movie. How is that possible? Has he not seen Contraband? This kid is so lucky. Whatever movie he sees next will be his new favorite movie (because any movie is better than Shooter). As a student of the absurd, I have to check what the concession stand’s favorite movie is every time I go to an AMC theater. F-ing Shooter.
Sometimes people go to the movies by themselves. It’s weird sitting in a theater by yourself with nothing to occupy you. So you take out your phone, discreetly masturbate or go buy yourself some popcorn. It’s social proofing. People know you’re a psychopath if you’re sitting in a theater by yourself staring at a blank screen. Eating popcorn let’s everyone else know that you’re normal. This also applies to when you’re waiting in the lobby, like this unpopular girl in the picture on the right. Her friend is late because her friend is trying to establish alpha standing. The girl waiting in the lobby should go buy popcorn to show her friend (when he/she arrives) that she is not dependent on them for happiness. But this girl isn’t buying popcorn, so she is telling the theater that she is desperate and probably terrible.
Old-timey cartoons have a lot of wisdom. They’ve been through World War II, so I would listen to them if they suggest you deserve a treat. Do you think they’re singing that song to amuse themselves? No, they worked really hard perfecting the docile tones and huckleberry charm to relay an important message about compliance to instant gratification. If you don’t get popcorn after Paula P. Popcorn coos the suggestion in your ear, then you, sir, are a son of a bitch.
Have you ever gone to a movie around a meal time? You didn’t get the opportunity to have lunch or dinner, so you’re going to have popcorn at the movies instead. This kind of thing happens. One of my most memorable movie experiences happened while having popcorn for dinner. It was opening weekend for The Passion of the Christ and I was seeing it as the second half of a theater-hop double feature with Broken Lizard’s Club Dread. I didn’t have time to take a break in between the two movies and I was starving, so I went and bought popcorn for dinner. I get into the theater for The Passion of the Christ and no one else is having refreshments! Then they all look at me like I’m an asshole. You know what? If you don’t want me to have popcorn, then tell the theater not to sell popcorn during this particular movie. I was there to see the new controversial Mel Gibson picture, not go to church. If I was in church, I would not have popcorn. But these church groups gave me shit because I’m eating popcorn in my church? Puh-lease! Also, because I’m a compassionate person, I was planning on going to town on the corn during the previews so I’m not being the guy eating popcorn while Jesus Christ is crucified. But then Kerasotes Theaters and Mel Gibson have the audacity to not show previews before the movie. Dammit! So yeah, I ate popcorn during The Passion of the Christ. It tasted like guilt.
Your turn! Why do you buy overpriced popcorn at the movies?