AMC and Regal ban outside food from theaters

posted by moviebuff82 on December 2, 2009 at 7:40 am

DENVER, CO — According to the Denver Business Journal, AMC and Regal are prohibiting outside food from being brought into movie theaters.

“AMC recently reviewed its company policy regarding outside food and drink and will no longer be permitting guests to bring in these items, as is the case with many entertainment venues,” said Sun Dee Larson, vice president of corporate communications at Kansas City, Mo.-based AMC Entertainment.

Comments (43)

danpetitpas on December 2, 2009 at 8:16 am

This article didn’t elaborate, but when did theaters actually “allow” food in? For the last 40 years, I was always under the impression that was a no-no and you had to sneak snacks in. The Denver Business makes it sound like this is something new. But have people been openly walking in with pizzas and McDonald’s bags? I’ve read posts about the AMC-Loews Boston Common theater where people are constantly eating Chinese food in the auditoriums.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on December 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

I’ve been sneaking in snacks and drinks into the movie theater for damn near 20 years now. It’s incredibly easy, especially during the colder months when you’re wearing a coat with deep pockets. I do it without hesitation, guilt or shame. Concession food prices are nothing short of monetary rape!

Theater owners would have to have their employees frisk their patrons and check their bags if they ultimately wanted to stop outside food from getting into their theaters. Yeah, like patrons are ever going to allow THAT to happen!

IanJudge on December 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

Well, another across the board big chain policy that us independents can take advantage of by allowing outside food!

We’ve always allowed outside food at my theaters. Of course you don’t want people eating smelly main courses, but we patrol for that anyhow when ushers do their theater checks. Considering what some of these mega plexes sell (burgers, nachos, chili dogs) they obviously aren’t doing it for smell issues!

Our customers appreciate that we’re not going to make them throw out their coffee or ice cream cone etc. and they like it when we say “don’t throw it away – we’re not like that here!” even when we sell it ourselves.

By allowing outside snacks, and not being a ‘food nazi’ you might lose some concession sales, but you gain a happy customer, and that is something you always want!

And sneaking in candy in your pocket is a tradition that I’m sure goes back to the first nickelodeon.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on December 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

We do not allow outside food but dont get crazy about it—Regal by us now searches bags.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

You still have to be careful what you allow in. Fried chicken bones and potato chips can play havoc in an auditorium and you will lose just as many customers if you have no rules.

Those big coats also hide guns, beer and whiskey at the kid shows. Shopping bags can include pets, pet food (live crickets), and bombs. When we started checking we found all of the above.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 2, 2009 at 11:35 am

Oh, I forgot the video recorder, complete with tripod.

moviebuff82 on December 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

and a mic. That’s why film has those codes on to protect pirates from recording movies so that they won’t reach youtube and the internet.

carolgrau on December 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

If those greedy bastards did'nt charge 10 arms and 15 legs for thier products they would not have to worry about it. I read in the paper a hew days ago a family of 4 cost $725.00 to go to a yankee game in NY.

carolgrau on December 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

If those greedy bastards did'nt charge 10 arms and 15 legs for thier products they would not have to worry about it. I read in the paper a hew days ago a family of 4 cost $725.00 to go to a yankee game in NY.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on December 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm

When will the public understand that snack bar is the only way theatre makes money and that the majority of the $9-15 ticket goes to the distributor?

William on December 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Thats about right. A small coffee cup size of beer is $6.00 and a regular size with a Yankee plastic cup goes for $10-11.
If I’m lazy that day I will buy a drink & a popcorn. But if I have time I will buy just popcorn and sneak in a drink.
We use to stop by the old Woolworths or Newberrys type stores and get candy for the show. I don’t like buying a candy bar that is so big that I could watch “Gone with the Wind” and still have some to eat.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller on December 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I wouldn’t allow outside food or beverages in my theatre, but never shook anybody down. The theatre concession prices are WAY over the top now. Many customers have been lost over the past 15 years, and now if a patron tries to bring in outside food or beverages and are embarrassed by the shakedown, they will lose even more.

I have NEVER brought in outside food or beverages, and probably never will, but I can tell you one thing, I WILL NEVER pay the prices I had to pay the last time I went. It will be a snack free performance, and THAT ALSO leads to a less than enjoyable movie experience.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on December 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

You know, half the time, the popcorn is not even that fresh – it has either been sitting around all day and gets cold, it’s come out of one of those humungous bags I see sitting on the floor and isn’t freshly-popped, or the butter has been sitting around so long that it tastes rancid! This might be fine if you were paying a lot less for it, but the disgustingly high price you have to pay, your popcorn could, at the very least, be fresh, hot, with fresh butter and salt, and hey, here’s a great idea that might put an enthusiastic spin on the whole experience – free popcorn refills!

danpetitpas on December 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I heard a concession worker at a big chain say not to buy popcorn on the weekdays, especially earlier in the week. The popcorn is left over from the weekend.

raysson on December 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Other theatre chains like some of these independent art houses sell alcoholic beverages to those under 18 years of age. But the prices these days…….outrageous in some of these megaplexes!!! A popcorn and drink is at $6.00 and a small thing of candy is around $4.00???
Its no wonder that you paid over $10.00 for the movie and another $8.00 for concessions. No wonder people are sneaking in their own food. At one time,folks were sneaking in bags of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hamburgers from the local Hardees. They still do at the local drive-in.

By the way,if AMC and Regal are banning outside food from theatres,other megaplex chains like Carmike and Edwards Theatres are following suit. Instead of banning outside food….Let’s start banning those individuals who during a movie are texting their friends and calling folks on a cell phone….it really pisses me off when during a movie that you paid over $10 for and the person sitting next to you has a cell phone ringing during the show.

CTCrouch on December 2, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Ugh, it pains me to read some of these responses. Movie Theatres are a for profit business, the profit comes almost entirely from concession sales. Yes, food costs more at the concession stand, but that markup goes to cover rent, facility upkeep, salaries, advertising, etc.; while hopfully keeping enough to pull in a profit. Additionally, they must take advantage of very short sales windows (i.e. they don’t have day long opportunities, only the brief time before each set of shows starts). Theatre owners, even the big chains, aren’t out to rip anyone off, nor are they particularly greedy across the board. They are simply businesses trying to work within a very tight profit margin. If you take a look at most theatres' finances, you’ll find that they aren’t rolling in huge profits (especially in comparison to other industries).

HowardBHaas on December 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Nonprofit theaters in Philadelphia area most offer popcorn and soda for a grand total that’s much less, like $6, than for profit theaters. The for profit chains expect you to pay $10 + for the popcorn and soda, and that’s too much. You can get an entire meal in the nearby Food Court of the malls for less than that. What you should NOT do is expect to bring that entire meal into the movie theater. Eat it in the Food Court, where the smells & clean up are the responsibility of the Food Court or the trashcans there.

Yes, people (not me) sneak in a bit of candy, and no, no theater operator is going to do a body search.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on December 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Its not greedy bastards—-what it takes in food $$$$$ to survive and yes make a profit…….

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I always try to buy concessions at independent theatres such as the Brattle and Somerville, but I will always buy my candy and drinks at CVS before going to any big chain theatre.

movietheatres on December 2, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I am a theater operator…if all of you whiners would make the extra effort to patronize your INDEPENDENTLY owner theatres instead of just lazing out and going to Regal, AMC, Cinemark and the like, then you’d find you’d get a quality experience and a lower price on both tickets and snacks, and then the BIG BOYS will take some prices down. YOU WHO ONLY GO TO THE BIG GUYS BECAUSE THEY’RE “NEARER” ARE THE SOLUTION HERE..IF THIS ANGERS YOU THEN DON’T GO TO THOSE CHAINS.

HowardBHaas on December 2, 2009 at 7:10 pm

you don’t ID where you are, but here in the Philadelphia area almost every movie theater showing mainstream blockbusters is operated by a chain, especially Regal and AMC. There are choices for arthouse films.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller on December 2, 2009 at 7:42 pm

In San Antonio, there are Regal Cinemas, AMC, Cinemark, and Santikos. Santikos is every bit as greedy, and screws the patrons just as well as the big boys.

After nearly 30 years in the business, I know where the money taken in goes. The theatres have gone WAY OVER THE TOP with their ridiculous prices. I paid $17.50 for ONE large popcorn, and TWO medium drinks on my last visit to a theatre. That is utterly ridiculous, and to also be bombarded by commercial advertisements for 20 minutes before the show, AND have a lousy screen presentation due to a flickering xenon bulb, made me feel nothing but disgust and contempt for that Regal Theatre.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on December 2, 2009 at 9:10 pm

You all have no clue what it cost to operate these buildings..The electric bill alone is mind blowing every month as well as Rent & taxes,phone workers comp,phone ,liability ins,admission tax,sales tax,projection upkeep,salaries,cam charges,newspaper ads, print delivery fees, web site upkeep, cleaning, cost of goods paper products,candy ,cable, license fees,film rental,water,garbage……………………….

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on December 3, 2009 at 12:09 am

As a semi-retired part time usher, the incredible amount of garbage I pick up between 4 to 5 sets a day simply astounds me and that includes both sex restrooms!

The majority of the general public are quite respectful and I try to say a personal “thank you” when they pitch their garbage into a container.

What really makes me snort fire and brimstone is the thoughtless movie patrons who leave their outside purchase empties, etc., all over the floor. I wonder what their last servant died of?

rcase5 on December 3, 2009 at 2:03 am

This policy would be illegal here in California. When I worked for Century about 5 years ago, we were instructed to let outside food and drink in, as long as it didn’t pose a hazard (e.g. glass containers, etc.). We would actually give people courtesy cups to put their glass-contained drinks in. This is because someone sued one of the chains (AMC if I’m not mistaken) and contested their policy of not allowing outside food or drink on anti-trust basis. The plaintiffs won. I guess the court saw movie theatres as places that show movies and sold food on the side, rather than the reality today of restaurants that show movies.

The trick for the movie theatres is to pretend they give a rip and entice people to buy their products. We were told to pop fresh popcorn during every set, whether or not we needed to. It increased our waste slightly, but our percaps always went up because the smell of freshly-popped popcorn was irresistible. And if they didn’t have anything to drink with them, well that was something we could suggest-sell.

I’ve never been terribly impressed with AMC and it’s presentation or customer service. Regal is not a big player where I am, so I haven’t had the (dis?)pleasure. But I will never buy anything from an AMC concession stand again. They have the uncanny knack of taking neat venues and ruining them. I can only assume they treat their employees like crap because their employees treat customers like crap.

John Fink
John Fink on December 3, 2009 at 6:57 am

See the issue is AMC did allow outside food for as long as I can remember, which was great because they had very limited offerings at their concession stand (popcorn, soda, candy and hot dogs) – where as National Amusements, my favorite of the big chains in terms of food offerings, comfort and presentation has in most of it’s theaters food court style concessions that are actually quiet good (the Pizza is real pizza, not something that was taken out of a freezer for example). Same for Cineplex in Canada.

AMC was resistant to putting cafes in their theaters, even shutting down those that Loews opened (Loews Wayne for example had a coffee and ice cream stand AMC shut down after taking over). So if you wanted coffee or tea to make your movie going experience more enjoyable, you’d have to stop off at Starbucks before the show – which is no problem since AMC allowed outside food and beverage. (Same at General Cinema Essex Green after AMC took over). Another problem is their food isn’t terrably good either. Ironically enough AMC is now lead by a former Starbucks executive, perhaps they’ll take a page from that company and offer higher quality products instead of artificial/highly processed juices and teas made by Coca Cola and pre-packaged junk.

I personally think this policy is a shame and I will certainly try to avoid AMC. I especially enjoyed Jamba Juice with my AMC popcorn at Garden State, much better than the crap they sell at their snack bar.

shoeshoe14 on December 3, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Yeah AMC? Then search me! I always bring pb and j and my camelbak. Lower your prices for food and add nutritional info and maybe i’ll consider it.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 3, 2009 at 5:38 pm

No one has ever successfully sued a theatre for not allowing outside food and won.

Theatres can allow what they please inside as long as they are consistent and do not discriminate. They are NOT public spaces.

Remember those discount theatres with discount concession stands? Probably not. They are, with rare exceptions, out of business.

Try bringing your popcorn into a Broadway show or a Yankee game next time. And their snack bars make AMC and Regal a bargain.

I wish to thank those chains in advance for trying to keep their theatres clean and their businesses open and profitable.

JodarMovieFan on December 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm

If I’m going to an independent and the concession offerings are decent, then I will spend money there to support them.

Tonight, I went to Cinemark’s Egyptian 24, in Hanover, MD and saw that most of their concession items are above $5. A hotdog is $8.50! I would NEVER pay $8.50 for a hotdog even if they killed the animal and ground it up fresh and had it Kosher blessed and certified it as organic. How ridiculous is that? If I were to frequent this place, I would hide my food in my jacket and sneak it in. Heck, I’ll bring an entire Chinese buffet with me, with egg rolls and soup in my jacket.

Jim Miller
Jim Miller on December 3, 2009 at 10:59 pm

$8.50 for a HOT DOG!?!?!

They are NUTS!

With superb presentations on High Definition TV screens, and excellent sound from even the most inexpensive home sound system, and being able to PURCHASE a new DVD for less than the price of tickets, and WAY less to rent, theatres are going to have to do something VERY grand to keep people coming. Running commercials, high prices, and bad film presentations in auditoriums filled with dregs will be the end of the thetre business as we’ve known it.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 4, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Next time you are asked to pay $8.50 for a hot dog, blame this silly bitch, not Cinemark. All stupid criminals cost all of us.

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movietheatres on December 4, 2009 at 11:11 pm

You know who’s responsible for the high prices? YOU. You fat, greasy, slobs who cant seem to find your cake holes with the food you buy without spilling it all over the ground.

I have a great balcony in my theater…which I have had to now close off due to people being so physically screwed up they can’t walk up and down the stairs without falling down. I can’t say “hey you i don’t think you’re up to the stairs…because that would be "wrong”.

Screw you. You people made it this way. You people flock to the big Walmart chains the second they open a new shiny high priced dump, putting the independents out of business because the new guys had bigger wider seats you could slide your fat, sniveling asses into since you gorge yourself on garbage.

Now that they have done away with all the competition in the metro areas you cry foul because they charge a higher premium to have to deal with you people. You raise your kids to be spoiled brats who ruin the movies for everyone else. Then you go and make a horrible mess. Great role models you are.

YOU MADE IT THIS WAY. Stop whining, stop wearing your crocks with socks in public, try walking a little bit more, and deal with it. So pat yourselves on the back, nice job. Idiots!

nhu on December 6, 2009 at 10:09 am

Hey JDC, how do REALLY feel about today’s movie theater patrons? Don’t hold back.

movietheatres on December 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm

N H U, I feel that the majority of theater goers behave well and enjoy the experience, and that as usual its a minority of them that are behaving badly, but VERY BADLY, as is the case pretty much everywhere…HOWEVER…it is the fault of all who every time a new chain opens up they simply go there and forget about their local independently operated cinemas that now they find themselves having to go along with the will of the monopolyplexes.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on December 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm

They’re stupid! Do they know how easy it is to stuff a friggin Subway/Quizno’s sub or Chipotle burrito in your coat? They should just build a food court in the concession stand and call it a day. Sheesh!

moviebuff82 on December 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

Recently AMC offered Pizzeria Uno at several locations with the tagline “Hasta La Vista Hunger”. I got a coupon for that offer, which thankfull expired…..who wants to eat big food during a 2 hour movie? I remember when AMC’s Clifton Commons, as General CInema, used to have cookies and coffee from Starbucks, but since AMC took over, it’s gone. Same could be said for east hanover and its barren food counter between the entraces to the two wings of the theater that have six screens each.

Wepayyoursalary on December 25, 2009 at 12:36 pm

“Ugh, it pains me to read some of these responses. Movie Theatres are a for profit business, the profit comes almost entirely from concession sales.”

There are more than enough cafes around, we dont go to your workplace to eat, we go to watch movies. You have 2 choices, charge for the item that people are going there for (the MOVIE) or go the airline way – charge airport fees, landing fees, bag fees, restroom fees, food fees, etc. with a frisking line up front. Do you enjoy flying anymore with this new pricing model?
The simple solution: jack up your ticket prices even more. Be honest. It may pain you to read the responses from people who pay your bills, but if you ignore them, youre going to lose even more customers.
Apart from that, your model doesnt work with me – I never use the “concession” stand (no-one ever conceded me anything at this), so using your warped logic, youre letting me in free.
There is a reason we hate to see multiplexes driving independents out of business. And soon, I’ll have a wall-sized screen and a blu-ray at home. Enjoy running your fast food joint while you can. Maybe then everyone – you, the distributers, the movie corps and the actors – will charge more reasonably. Too late.

Wepayyoursalary on December 25, 2009 at 12:40 pm

“No one has ever successfully sued a theatre for not allowing outside food and won. Theatres can allow what they please inside as long as they are consistent and do not discriminate. They are NOT public spaces.”

The spaces will get even more private soon enough. All those costs you moan about? Guess what – theyre pretty much the same whether you attract thousands of customers or drive away all but a few diehards. Ever wonder why the theaters are half empty except on date night? Yup! people dont see movies anymore except as a place to go on a cheap date. Keep acting like a real theater in terms of pricing, and you might just find that people rediscover a real theater experience – with real actors on a stage. Why pay $25 for a mass market job when you can see a play for the same?

Wepayyoursalary on December 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm

“You know who’s responsible for the high prices? YOU. You fat, greasy, slobs who cant seem to find your cake holes with the food you buy without spilling it all over the ground."
If people are treated with respect, they act with respect, by and large. If people are overcharged, herded in lines like cattle, and treated like a source of cash, nothing more, theyre going to treat your place like garbage – after all, they paid for your cleaning fees. I dont mess up, because I do what most complainers dont – I watch the movie and dont eat. But I sure as hell understand why people treat your place like a greasy spoon cafe. Because thats the image youre going for.

Wepayyoursalary on December 25, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Bottom line theater owners: if you moved upmarket and disallowed food in your theaters, the experience would be far more pleasant for all. Instead, you have trained people to treat it like a MacDonalds – all the popping diacetyl smell and all, the ads, the grease, the filth.
Simple answer: Run a theater. You cant bring popcorn to the symphony, or a hot dog dripping oil all over the seats to the real theater. You want to run a macdonalds, then do that. Instead, you shut down real movie theaters, then turn the thing into a mess and make your only profits on the greaseburgers.
I select which movies I go to now very carefully – just the special effects spectaculars really. THe rest I wait a few weeks to come out on DVD. And like IU say, I’m looking forward to getting a big screen at home. You suck, youre going extinct, except that you will have a loyal following of fast-food-loving teenagers.

WNYPilot on January 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Sneaking snacks and a coke into a movie theater has been going on for decades. As long as you are discrete you will not get caught, regardless of the policy. Theaters would sell more soda at the concession if they offered smaller sizes. I paid $4.50 for a “small” coke that had to be about 40 oz. As Seinfeld once said: How much Mountain Dew can a man drink? At any rate, I don’t think a policy change will alter this situation at all.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm

It never really bothered me when people would bring food in. I had enough to worry about on opening night/ weekend. Cans were a problem. Our per cap on customers was never a problem,most folks then, hit the concession.70’s early 80’s.

R68Dtrain2500 on September 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

It never bother me when I buy a large popcorn in a local AMC theatres located in Bay Plaza shopping center the only thing I sneak in is the outside drinks with my book bag.If I go to another movie theater like 161st Street Movie theaters and Whitestone cinema they be checking every people bag except AMC and Regal. There is a strict usher checked my bags at 161st Street movie theater they kicked me out for sneaking in an AMC popcorn bag then i went to the whitestone cinema to see a r rated movie they this mean lady said I not allowed in the projection booth so the boss kicked me out so I took a cab to AMC in Bay Plaza,pay my tickets, buy a large popcorn and go to the theaters

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