With as much as 70 percent of the movie ticket price paid by to movie studios and distributors, theatre owners must rely on concessions to stay afloat, let alone make a profit.
Despite what some perceive as epic ticket and concession prices, a night out at the movies is likely to still be the most affordable entertainment option for the frugal consumer, according to consumer spending trends.
A ticket to see “300: Rise of an Empire” will set you back at least $10 in most cities (upwards of $14.00 if you see it in 3D and $18 for the IMAX experience). Just to sit in the bleachers to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates on a weekend in June costs $47 (non-scalper). You would pay the same price to see a play at Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre on a Friday night.
Movies, the world’s most popular art form, though, are seen as a more regular outing, and that can run into money, especially at the concessions counter. With as much as 70 percent of the movie ticket price paid to movie studios and distributors, theatre owners must rely on concessions to stay afloat, let alone make a profit. Moviegoers pay a reported markup of up to 1,300 percent for their popcorn.
How much do moviegoers pay on average for movie theatre concessions? Half of Affluent moviegoers say they shell out between $10 and $20, according to a new consumer spending trends survey conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. Four-in-ten say they spend under $10. Less than 10 percent pay between $20 and $30 for their trip to the lobby.
Across age groups, concession counter spending is highest among early Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, who likely have to satisfy the cravings of their children. While 36 percent of Affluent respondents under 40 say they spent between $10 and $20 for movie theatre snacks, that percentage increases to 56 percent for those between the ages of 41-50 and 58 percent of those between 51 and 60.
For movie theatre snackers, popcorn still rules as the concession of choice (51 percent), followed by soft drinks (37 percent). Respondents under the age of 40 were three times as likely as respondents overall to say they also purchase candy (21 percent) and other snacks such as nachos or pretzels (12 percent). But whether it is health or financial concerns, 44 percent said they do not purchase snacks when they go out to the movies.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.