My mother, rest her soul, hated high box office prices and high concession stand prices. Thats why she had three handbags, one of which was so huge it was like a fabric grocery sack. That was the one she took with her when we went to the movies, and we only got to go after we earned our allowance so we could buy our tickets ourselves.
Movies back then were a couple of bucks (box office sales were not spectacular for most films), and the movie prices werent as absurdly high as they are now. But Mom also hated the concession stand prices, so her bag was filled with plastic bags of popcorn (popped fresh at home with real butter, not the movie palaces monkey oil) and candy from the corner grocery.
Is it any wonder when I go to the movies today that I miss my Mom? The average movie prices are between $9 and $14 (usually even more if you want to see a film with those 3D glasses), and thats just at the door. Once youre inside, the scent of the food hits you and youre hooked.
So you want some popcorn, which is good and salty; thats so you will also want a soda to wash it down (ever notice how hard it is these days to find a water fountain in a movie palace?). My wife and I recently made a bargain: I would buy the movie tickets and she would buy the popcorn and soda. She wound up paying more than I did.
Popcorn runs between $7 (small) to $12 (bucket), and sodas between $6 and $10 (small to large), and there is always a smiling, up-sell oriented server who asks, you want butter on that? (it adds no cost to the popcorn, but about a million extra calories) and at the same time says, you know, for 50 cents more, you can get a large .. . So there you are with a popcorn vat and soda gallon. And if you have kids with you, youll hear, Hey, Dad, wheres mine?
The candy? Forget it. 5 bucks and more for your favorite M&Ms in a bag slightly larger than you pay a buck for at a gas station. And the bigger and brighter packages are even higher. Im not even going to dwell on the hot dogs and nachos.
So how do you cut down the expense of high box office prices, as well as the massive dollars (and calories/sugar/fat) acquired at the concession stand? There are a few simple ideas to help:
1. Try Moms handbag idea. The movie theaters usually discourage people from bringing in their own food, simply so they can sell more, but they dont have the right to inspect your wifes purse. She can smuggle in all kinds of goodies in there, particularly candies from the Dollar Store, where you get twice what the theater gives you for one-fourth the price.
2. Go to a matinee; their prices are always more reasonable (at least by a few dollars), and youve still got daylight to enjoy after the movies over.
3. This is a tough one, but its the biggest money saver: avoid gratifying the popcorn desire. When you enter the theater, steel yourself, plug your nose and get right to your seat.
4. This one is even tougher: avoid the movie altogether. Breaking the movie night habit might open up whole new avenues for that cash, or more opportunities for at-home family fun.
What about the movie? Wait a few months. Its going to be a DVD at your local Red Box for a buck. Simple enough, and youve beaten high box office prices.