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And So It Begins

Guy Starts Class Action Lawsuit Over High Concession Prices; Lives Our Inner Monologue

One Michigander and security technician has gotten tired of the exorbitant prices at most movie theater concession counters, which is probably something that we can all relate to. But it seems that for Joshua Thompson, the last straw was when his local AMC Theater told him he couldn’t even bring his own soda and candy to a showing.

He’s started a class action law suit against the theater, for violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll get anywhere with it.

The CPA seeks to prevent businesses from “charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold.” On December 26th, Thompson was charged $8 for a coke and a box of Goobers (which I can only assume he purchased for the sheer joy of seeing the word “goobers” used in legal documents) at the AMC theater, and also purchased the same items for $2.73 at a near by convenience store.

However, according to the Detroit Free Press, changes made to Michigan’s CPA leaves movie theaters under a significant exception from complying with the CPA because American movie theaters are regulated.

“It’s a loser,” said Gary Victor, an Eastern Michigan University business law professor. He said state Supreme Court decisions in 1999 and 2007 exempted most regulated businesses from the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

Added Ian Lyngklip, a nationally known consumer lawyer in Southfield: “Movie theaters are regulated, so the lawsuit won’t go anywhere”

These days, the high prices on concession stand food just give me a reminder that most of it is terrible for me anyway. But I wouldn’t mind cheaper popcorn. It might be empty calories, but at least it’s got volume without a lot of sugar or fat (liquid butter is gross, shut up).

(via The Hollywood Reporter.)


  • Wendy Whipple

    That’s what purses and jackets-of-many-pockets are for.

  • Anonymous

    I *always* smuggle in my own snacks in my purse. Always.
    They can overcharge me for my ticket, but by golly, they won’t get a cent out of me for their snacks!

  • Corey Regalado

    That’s why you carry a purse regardless of gender. ;)

  • Cassie

    The concession prices are so high because theaters barely make any profits off the movie tickets. The studios pocket most of it. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it’s really their lifeline. Asking them to lower their prices there is asking them to go out of business.

  • Kristin Frederickson

    Was coming here to say this. Without overpriced concessions, we simply wouldn’t have movie theatres.

  • Danielle Stanard

     Thank you for saying so, folks ought to know.  This sort of thing irritates me- no one is twisting your arm to buy concessions at the movie theater.   We need to start figuring out the difference between WANTS and NEEDS.

  • Catie

    This is why I bite the bullet and usually get SOMETHING when I visit the theater – I want to support the theaters themselves. I just factor it in to the overall cost to go see a movie.

  • Anonymous

    A wife with a purse. MUCH easier than a lawsuit. 

  • Tané Tachyon

    If I go to one of the local theaters that sell fresh-baked cookies and slices of cake and pie, and popcorn with actual butter, I buy snacks from them, but at the multiplex that just sells outrageously-priced mass-market candy and popcorn drenched in what might as well be motor oil, I get some bagels from the shop next door and bring them in in my backpack.

  • John Wao

    Well since I only go to matinees nowadays, on those rare times I drag myself to a theater, I usually go to Denny’s first and eat breakfast and don’t worry about buying any snack. $8 for a soft drink is outrageous.

  • Numi Nu

     This is true.  They really don’t make any profits (not even enough for overhead, actually in most cases) from the tickets.  Concessions are the way they stay in business.  However, they should not be allowed to forbid people from bringing in their own food, especially since people with allergies and special food needs need an exception as well.  I have noticed a particularly lovely trend with my local chain theaters in that they are offering lower priced items ($2 Hot Chocolate or Chai Latte, $2 ice cream, $5 Kids meal with small soda, popcorn and mini candy or fruit snacks).  

  • Anonymous

    Meh the whole “overpriced snacks are the lifeline of theatres” maybe they should look into a new business model :P

  • JoAnna Luffman

    Glad someone else beat me to the punch. I will buy popcorn – I love the motor oil “butter”, but I will bring my own soda.

  • Kat

     Not necessarily. It’s possible (in fact, I’d say highly probable) that if they lowered their prices, more people would buy the snacks. So the profit per unit sold would go down, but the number of sales would increase. So, hypothetically, if they cut the costs in half but double their sales, their profit margin would be the same.

  • Will

    Whatever, I just typed “goober” into WestLaw.  The word “goober” showing up in a legal document has SO been done before.  Particularly in Southern jurisdictions.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of studies have been done on the “lower prices = mores sales = better for everyone!” logic, and the increase in sales could only ideally make up for the loss of profit from the lowered prices (not exceed it, because there’s still only a finite amount of customers). Besides that research, I know this personally because in the VG business, everyone says to lower the prices of games.Truth is, the developers that do listen to that only end up losing money. =

    Which I hate to say, because I would love cheaper stuff, definitely.

  • Lonestarr

    Finally the man purse proves it’s usefulness!  Next stop, fanny packs!

  • Anonymous

    And this is why I stuff things in my pants.

  • Anna B

    The last time I stuck food in my bag at the theater to try to sneak it in, I was eight months pregnant. My bag was checked, but I think perhaps the ticket collector felt he couldn’t deprive the very pregnant lady of her bootleg snacks.

  • Jason McCann

    “(which I can only assume he purchased for the sheer joy of seeing the word “goobers” used in legal documents)”  this is the funniest line I have read about this story.

  • Jason McCann

    The movies already had their theaters taken away from them by the government and the studio system essentially destroyed by regulation.  I think they should be allowed to charge whatever people pay.  WHATEVER THE MARKET WILL BEAR, KIDS.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe this is a difference between other states and Texas (where I live), but I’ve never
    been to ANY theater (movie or live theater) that allowed you to bring
    in your own food and drinks.  They all forbid it.  I sneak stuff in
    anyway and I’m sure they know ppl do that and the system works just
    fine.  I don’t see how there’s any case for dictating anything to the
    theaters here.  And gosh, I love to eat as much as anyone, but it’s very possible for me to get through a movie without anything to eat,
    pretty sure I wouldn’t starve in two hours.  So even if they searched
    purses and I HAD to buy their food if I wanted something, I’d still have
    an alternative–just don’t eat anything.  OR watch a movie at home. 
    Geez, leave businesses alone already!  If you don’t like something they
    do (below defrauding or harming someone), then take your business
    elsewhere and leave it at that.  It’s like
    we’re all still kindergarteners always running to a teacher about what
    so and so did to us and demanding they fix it.

  • Anonymous

     Maybe fewer employees to keep the theaters clean and a 40% increase in ticket prices?

  • Tahlia Merrill

    Not sure if someone’s said this already, but it isn’t 100% the movie theaters’ fault for the high prices. They get an incredibly low cut of money from ticket sales (a few years ago, they didn’t get a single dime during the first two weeks of a movie being out), so the only way they can make money is through concessions. However, it is rather ridiculous when it costs something like 10 cents to make a large bag of popcorn and then charge $5 for it. I’m sure there’s a bit of corporate greed behind the whole thing, but it’s a more complex issue than that. 

  • emjb

    If movie theaters are getting so shafted by studios, is that my fault? Should I have to buy 6.00 drinks because they are shitty negotiators? I don’t buy it. I am not obligated to get shafted because they would rather make me overpay for their inability to run their business profitably. If they can’t find a way to stay in business w/out screwing over their customers, then too bad. But I don’t think that’s true, I think it’s just easier to screw over their customers and whine when we complain about it.