In Las Vegas, where movie exhibitors have gathered for the semiannual conclave Showest, yesterday's Topic A wasn't better movies but better concessions fare. Sony Pictures chief Michael Lynton sensibly asked multiplex owners why, given skyrocketing levels of childhood obesity, there weren't healthier options at the snack counter.
I hope his challenge is met by exhibitors who for nearly a century have minted untold billions by exacting a huge markup on a bag of popcorn, the ingredients of which cost pennies. At some local chains I've seen buckets of popcorn (900-plus calories before the rancid butter substitute is slathered on) sell for nine or ten bucks. And nachos for not much less. Who can eat those supersized candy bars at the counter? Why aren't there sensibly-priced 100-calorie bags of treats? Why not apple chips or fruit leather?
As one who sees about five movies a week in theaters I've trained myself to drink mint tea rather than the sugary (and pricy) beverages available. I've long marveled at the concessions counters at theaters in Madrid, Tel Aviv and Sydney where respectively almonds, sunflower seeds and fresh fruit are available. As a onetime exhibitor myself, I know that fruit is perishable and some of the popcorn sold at movie theaters is older than my teenager. But still, I think American theaters can do better. In January, when local theaters were obliged to post the calories of snack food I fainted when I saw that many of the offerings were more than half of my daily caloric intake.
Your thoughts? What do you eat at the movies? What would you like to see available at the multiplex and arthouse? I'd pay a premium ticket for a dinner and a movie, like they serve at some high-end theaters in the UK, Australia and other cities in the US.