8 Ways to Improve Movie Theater Food

Wednesday, July 23 by

In a recent column on Cinematical, which is a pretty awesome movie blog, there was a column begging movie-goers to buy the sub-par grub that pays their bills . I’m all for movie theaters not going out of business, but if they want to get between me and my pay, they’re going to have to put in a little effort first.


While I’m not demanding Bobby Flay cook me nice a piece of halibut to eat while watching Step Brothers, there’s much work to be done to make up for the amount of neon orange nacho cheese they’ve tried to spoon down our throats.

And as a side note, I know there are some theaters already doing the stuff I’m listing below, but for the average American movie fan, who sees the majority of their movies at an enormous megaplex located in the mall, this stuff can seem like a real luxury.

Serve better food
When I was in college, I used to see my movies at the Union Square theater in New York City. I was within walking distance of some of the best pizza in the country and yet the only non-contraband pizza option I had inside the movie was a terrible-tasting disc that cost $7 and came, quite literally, out of a vending machine. If you’re going to serve nachos, make some friggin’ nachos. Don’t just ladle orange stuff onto stale chips. If you’re going to serve hot dogs, make sure they haven’t been sitting on rollers since 300 was in theaters.

Change it up a little:
It might seem like there are a lot of choices when you’re standing in front of the big board full of pretty food pictures, but they all follow the same formula. You can get something salty with a big scoop of something greasy dumped on top of it (nachos, popcorn) or something sugary dipped in chocolate (Bon Bons, every other candy that’s not Sourpatch Kids). Past that you’re left with microwave pizzas or worse. It couldn’t hurt to have a few premade sandwiches kicking around. They could even go way out on a limb and try something healthy. Even McDonald’s has a friggin’ salad. Hell, throw a couple bananas out there on the counter and see what happens.

Make food cheaper
We all expect to pay more for stuff when we’re out. A $9 Whopper when you’re hungry at the airport? Sure. A $6 bottle of water when you’re trapped inside Bonnaroo with thousands of hippies that smell like corpses? Yeah, why not. But when you have plenty of time to stop and buy the same candy for literally one sixth the price at the CVS next door, it’s hard to justify the cost. I don’t want food for free, or even at bargain basement prices. It would just be nice to be able to buy a popcorn and a soda and still get some change back from a 10 dollar bill. Of course if they were to make the food better, we would all probably be willing to pay a little bit more.

Offer a decent cup of coffee…
A coffee-addicted friend and I recently went to catch a movie at the newest, most high-tech theater to open in this area. It has 12 screens, amazing seats and a bathroom that didn’t give me syphilis. But my friend was totally shocked to find out that you couldn’t get coffee of any kind. She had to run across the street and slam down a latte just to get her caffeine buzz. Frankly, I hate the coffee in general, but Starbucks has more than proven that people will pay a little more if you actually give them a quality product. (And before you go arguing about the quality of Starbucks’ drinks, don’t, because no one cares. This is a site for movie and TV elitists, not coffee snobs.) I’m sure there are more than a few people who would prefer a frappucino to a half-gallon tub of soda. Plus, it would make the place smell a little nicer.

Serve beer:
I’m not talking about letting people get super hammered–the guys who want to do that are just going to keep sneaking in .40s like they have been doing since the dawn of Colt 45. But there’s something to be said for kicking back with a cold beer for a movie, especially on a hot Friday night in the middle of summer. It’s already a pretty common occurrence in Europe and even smaller theaters here in the States and it hasn’t brought their theater industries crashing down.

Quieter wrappers, please:
There’s no sound more infuriating than that of a wrapper being crinkled during the early parts of a movie. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so partial to the popcorn bucket. They’ve actually done a good job by selling many candies in boxes, but there are certain offenders, like those asshole Twizzlers, that still insist on the plastic. That should be the first checkbox on the sheet when a theater is auditioning for candy, right above “can we sell it for less than $7 and still make a profit.”

Add a few more trashcans:
I like to wait until the end of the credits before I leave the theater, mostly because I’m too lazy to run and beat the crowd to the urinals. But by the time I get to the garbage cans, they’re usually completely overflowing, spilling soda, popcorn and all kinds of other gross crap all over the floor. Enough people already leave their filth chilling out on the floor, you shouldn’t be giving them a justification to do so.

Don’t skimp on the popcorn:
Popcorn and movies go together like Real Dolls and unimaginable shame. The two are meant for one another. That’s why it’s so important not to screw it up. Sure, the prospect of real butter is probably just a pipe dream that’s about as realistic as Ro Paul riding a unicorn into the oval office, but that doesn’t mean we should be eating ladels full of motor oil scooped over used packing peanuts. Get some decent kernels, add some friggin’ flavor and make more than one batch a week and I’m willing to pay for it. Otherwise I’ll just like the thin layer of film off the floor. It’s not quite as good, but it’s a lot cheaper. Plus it has tons of fiber.

The bottom line is, that if I know I can get some decent food inside the theater, I’ll show up early and bring a little extra money. Until then, I’m going to keep using my cargo pockets to smuggle in beef jerky and iced tea. So theaters, you should either step up or start patting people down. Wait, scratch that last part. Just make better food.

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