Sunday, April 06, 2003

Paul Brownfield of the LA Times, I salute you..

This guy describes walking in to see Chicago with a pizza under his arm, and nobody even questioning it. (I hope it was a deep dish pizza). I have never gone that far. While it is a common practice for me to take in a Coke and a chocolate bar that I have bought somewhere else, I tend to have them in my rucksack, or in my pockets or something. My reasoning is simply that I am cheap, and paying three pounds for a Coke seems somehow excessive.

The economics of movie theatres is quite interesting, of course. For first run blockbuster movies, the movie studio gets a very large percentage of the ticket price - in extreme cases as much as 90% (although 70-80% is more usual). The cinema makes its money from outrageously high prices on Coke and popcorn. People are generally willing to pay these prices because moviegoing is a social experience, and nobody wants to look cheap in front of their friends or a date by not buying a drink because it is too expensive. On the other hand, if people go to the movies by themselves this not wanting to lose face argument doesn't work any more, and the economic model of movie theatres starts to fail. Personally, I see a lot of movies - more than one a week on average. I tend to go by myself, at least partly because I take movies very seriously and seeing a movie with someone who takes them less seriously can be a distraction. I am a great customer from the point of view of the movie studios, but only a mediocre one from the point of view of the cinemas themselves. They do better out of someone who comes once a month and buys popcorn.

The author of the article also describes someone who he used to sit next to at football games who had the ability to somehow practically produce gourmet meals in his lap at football matches. This is worth describing because (I believe) spectators aren't normally allowed to take their own food into sporting events in the US. In Australia, spectators traditionally are allowed to bring in their own food (with the exception of alcoholic drinks, which must be bought inside). Prior to the Sydney Olympics, it was announced that spectators would not be allowed to bring their own food with them to Olympic events, "in line with international practice". This policy was denounced by newpaper editorials as being "un-Australian", was attacked on talkback radio, questions were asked in parliament, and it looked for a moment like the Olympic officials would be first against the wall when the revolution came (well, not quite). The Olympic organisers backed down, and spectators at the Olympics were ultimately allowed to bring their own food. This type of action has never been tried against cinema owners, however.

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