Finally. Guy sues movie theaters over popcorn prices

The last time we went to the theater to see a movie was in January. (It was the second Sherlock Holmes film, by the way, which was quite good if haven’t caught it yet.) We went in the middle of the afternoon, as usual, because the matinee showings are considerably cheaper. The tickets were five dollars each. Two medium bags of popcorn and two slushies came to nearly twenty bucks. I couldn’t resist trotting out my standard comment of, “does that come with a loan application?”

I always feel bad about that because the poor worker – usually some college student trying to pick up a few extra bucks – obviously doesn’t set the prices and has to put up with carping customers all night long. But it’s absolutely frustrating to pay that much for a few snacks, and of course they try to ban you from bringing in your own. Well, at long last, one brave citizen is fed up with it and is taking action.

Joshua Thompson loves the movies.

But he hates the prices theaters charge for concessions like pop and candy.

This week, the 20-something security technician from Livonia decided to do something about it: He filed a class action in Wayne County Circuit Court against his local AMC theater in hopes of forcing theaters statewide to dial down snack prices.

“He got tired of being taken advantage of,” said Thompson’s lawyer, Kerry Morgan of Wyandotte. “It’s hard to justify prices that are three- and four-times higher than anywhere else.”

While the idea might make some frustrated consumers feel better, every legal analyst who chimed in for the article above held the same opinion. This suit has pretty much zero chance of going anywhere and will likely be dismissed out of hand as soon as it reaches a judge. And the reality of it is that it should.

There just isn’t a compelling argument to demonstrate any sort of leverage over the consumer or unfair business practices, frustrating though that might be. Yes, I complain about the cost of their snacks, but nobody is forcing me to go see the movie. And even if I do, I could just drink some water from the public fountain and eat before I go to the show. We pay that much for popcorn because we agree to pay that much.

From the theater owners’ side of things, concession sales are where they make the lion’s share of their profits. Attendance is down across the board and they don’t really charge enough for tickets to cover all their costs. It’s just business.

I will, however, confess here to my life of crimes. There’s a dollar store in the same shopping center as the theater we usually go to. I have, on occasion, picked up a bottle of soda and a candy bar and stuffed them in my coat before going in to see the film. Alert the authorities.

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