By James Smith
Taking a date to the movies may seem inexpensive, but people are often surprised by how much money is shelled out after purchasing tickets. With “no outside food or drink” signs hanging from the walls, people go straight to the concession stand. While this may seem like the only option, many moviegoers turn to sneaking their own food and drinks into theaters.
According to a recent Harris study, six in ten Americans, 58 percent, have admitted to sneaking their own brand of department store concessions into the movies in order to dodge the theatres high prices.
At the Malco Paradiso Cinema, a small popcorn, small drink and admission costs $17.25.
According to Kierra Myart, a junior psychology major, bringing outside snacks to the movies is essential to avoiding an empty wallet.
“I sneak food into theaters all the time,” she said. “It’s not that the food is bad, I just don’t want to pay almost $10 to get in and another $10 to get food.”
At grocery stores, getting twice as much food and snacks for a movie date is easier because they often sell everything in packs. Since they buy in bulk, the markup is less than a theater that is dependent on individual candy, popcorn and soda sales.
Concession stand candy is often $2.50 to $3 more than in stores such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Dollar Tree.
As a careful food hauler, Myart believes there is an art to sneaking food into films. She said the key is to have a sizable bag that is able to conceal all of the snacks while also keeping the contents safe. Good lining is necessary to keep theater employees from seeing the outline of a soda can, the crackling of a crunchy bag of chips or the rustling of candies bouncing together in a box.
The secret, according to Myart, is to open the bag of chips prior to putting it in your purse. Allowing the air to leave the bag makes room for other dining supplies in the purse such as napkins or plasticware, depending on the meal one is smuggling.
According to Maurice Owens, the manager of the Malco Paradiso Cinema, the staff is aware that people sneak food into movies, but sometimes, it is not until the movie is over that the remainder of the forbidden food and drinks are discovered.
“We don’t catch people too often,” Owens said. “But it happens.”
For Gisselly Soto, a senior criminal justice and Spanish double major at the U of M, sneaking food and drinks into a movie is a common occurrence. On most occasions, theater employees never check her purse.
“Its very easy to do,” Soto said. “I never have problems bringing food in.”
According to Owens, when an employee does find a patron with outside snacks, the consequences are slim to none.
“We just ask that they take it back to the car or throw it away,” Owens said.
With the satchel – commonly deemed “man purse” – always being an option, men tend to have to be more creative in order to sneak their food into a movie theater.
According to Soto, she makes her boyfriend wear a large jacket with many pockets. While it may look odd during the summer, it efficiently gets the job done.
“Sometimes I don’t want to carry my purse,” she said. “So, I make my boyfriend put some chips or something in his jacket. He holds it with his hands in his pockets.”