The Cost of Corn and Indiana Jones

I’m taking my 9-year old son to Washington, DC this weekend, taking the train, seeing the sights. We’ll eat pizza at 2 Amys, find a decent burger and some ice cream, and a Ben’s Half Smoke at the Nats’ game on Sunday. And of course, we’re going to my favorite cinema in the world, the Uptown Theatre just up the street from the National Zoo. The Uptown is very old school, where the screen is so big, it’s curved. I remember seeing Dances With Wolves there ages ago, and boy, it was a memorable experience. I’m going to take him to see the new Indiana Jones flick (yeah, it’s a PG-13 movie, but I think he can handle it). I’ve bought the tickets already and will be sure to get some popcorn.

And then I read this article about how our energy and food policies will likely drive up the price of movie tickets. How’s that? Well, the sales of concessions, and mostly popcorn, subsidize the costs of movie tickets. Without concessions, the theaters would have to double the ticket prices in order to make some money. And now there’s a corn shortage, with approximately 40% of the crop being made into ethanol. Granted, popcorn is different than the corn grown for ethanol, but there’s still a shortage. And with a shortage comes increased prices. So, in order to maintain accustomed levels of profitability, theater owners either have to raise the price of popcorn or theater tickets. The experts predict the increases will come at the box office rather than the concession stand — as much as a buck or two a ticket.

So, when you go to the Raleigh Grande Cinema for the new Will Smith movie in July, and you’re paying 10 bucks a ticket, just remember that it’s the humble ear of corn that caused the price increase.


14 Responses to The Cost of Corn and Indiana Jones

  1. Fuzzy says:

    I don’t even know where to start, so I will limit myself to suggesting that reading about corn via Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemna) might expose you (that’s ya’ll, not *you*) to a somewhat different perspective. Plus a couple of comments:

    Between Earl Butz, Agribusiness, the Cattle/Pig Industry, and Corporate Greed we have painted ourselves in this country into a corner that is simply unbelievable. To the point where our very DNA signature has been altered because of the hybrid corn we eat in nearly everything we consume that is a processed food product.

    Prices of corn via the American Farmer have been so low for so long that farmers in the mid-west have been driven into a horrible descending vicious circle of existence.

    Speculators in Corn, Flour, and Rice futures are the forces that have driven up the prices of these “commodities” in the past 9 months, more than any other factor. Flour is triple what it was 9 months ago.

    I laugh when I read articles like the one linked above, they are filled with so many lies and misdirections that unraveling it would be like unraveling knotted spaghetti. Notice how it is the price of corn alone that drives up movie ticket prices, it has nothing to do with actors who make 20 MILLION DOLLARS a film, or a Movie Industry that could choose to make a profit of only say 90 MILLION DOLLARS on the opening weekend instead of 100 million. I’d say that the industry charges what the market will bear, and that it will continue to raise prices whenever it thinks it can get away with it.

    It’s not like people are forced to buy concessions, and movie house people (the few who aren’t directly owned by movie companies) would much rather the ticket was higher and that they could reduce the price of concessions to something less than insane ($4 for 5cents worth of coke anyone?), but the movie companies won’t let them.

    I’ll stop now before I bite off my own face in a frothing frenzy, lol.

    Btw, I’m not a fan of this “possibly related posts: (automatically generated)” thing.

  2. Varmint says:

    Heh, I had a feeling this article might have gotten a rise out of you, Fuzzy. I wasn’t taking a position on this as much as pointing out how fucked up the entire system is. And when I say “system,” I’m mostly talking about our food and energy policies. But I’ll let you carry the ball on this one, because I’m right with you on these issues. And heaven forbid I ever get involved in something controversial! 😉

  3. Varmint says:

    And, by the way, I also didn’t like the “related post” feature, so I turned it off.

  4. marko says:

    I’m not going to get into the corn issue, but I do want to commend you for planning one heckuva weekend for you and your son. I moved to Durham from DC two years ago, and you have just ignited a little nostalgia in me about 2 Amy’s, , and the Uptown.

    If he hasn’t already, would your son be up for trying Ethiopian or Eritrean food? As I’m sure you’re aware, DC offers some of the best East African food anywhere, including East Africa. I would recommend Etete or Dukem. Have fun!

  5. Fuzzy says:


    I think it was the “would you like some feces on top of that” article on the cherry cake thing that gave me a hint that I might not enjoy the “feature” of ‘related articles’.

    Regarding the whole FUBAR of the system:
    It’s funny that this kind of thing gets a rise out of me actually. I’m a born and bred north carolinian from a really rural background from a long line of conservative yellow-dog democrats. I grew up running moonshine and driving in demolition derbys, hunted and fished anything that walked, crawled, hopped or swam. Ok the more I think about it, maybe watching an entire way of life fall apart due to agribusiness may have influenced me “just a tad”, /blush. I grew up with the conservationism of Robert Ruark and my grandfather so watching America the Beautiful go in 50 years from where it was to here is upsetting to me in oh so many ways.

  6. Varmint – thanks for making me homesick and severely jealous! The injustice of you sitting your butt down in seats at the NATS’ new stadium before me is beyond words. I actually boycotted the O’s for 20 years before we got a team. I may have moved to the Triangle but my boycott of the O’s will never end. PS-if you find it in your heart to get me souvenir from the stadium, all will be forgotten, maybe. Have a safe trip and a great time!

    PS- if you get a chance go to Teaism and try the Salted Oat Cookie and wash it down with a Ginger Limeade. Man I miss that place!

  7. ifimlyingimdying says:

    Once again, America misses the point. The USA is NOT, I repeat NOT, a country. It is a Company. And its run by people who are wealthy beyond imagination. Like the VAST majority of Americans, you represent one thing to the mega-rich. PREY.
    You will be relieved of your money by any means possible. They rely on your ignorance and fear. And you,sir, are the perfect patsy.
    You will gladly pay $50 to watch a bunch of drugged up, freaks-of-nature play a damn GAME. And you think those people care about YOU?? They care about your and the TVs money!!!
    And I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but 90% of the corn grown is the US is used for food.. Cattle food. And do you know whats left over after taking the alcohol out of corn??? That would be CATTLE FEED!!!!!!
    Sir, you would have to be really stupid to believe what a politician tells you. Or a basketball player.
    But, remember one thing. Its a helluva lot more important who wins the game on Sunday than how many soldiers died in Iraq. C’mon, that guy in the Army can’t even dunk. By the way, are you and your son both overweight?

  8. Varmint says:

    Wow, that was a very entertaining rant. Seven words in all caps. A plethora of exclamation points and question marks, and a slam on me (not to mention my son). Very nice.

    Folks, I’m going to leave the post above to show an example of the wrong way to make an argument on this blog. The commenter could have made the same argument without so much bile, but he chose not to do so.

    Anyhow, if anyone wants to respond to ifimlyingimdying, please do so with a civil tone. I’ve got to figure how to hand more of my money over to the mega-rich.

  9. Varmint – For the first time since WordPress started the automatically generated icon for posters without a previously uploaded one, this ifimdying’s icon actually fits him/her.

    @ifimdying – Wow! I can hardly believe that Varmint’s apolitical post about traveling to DC would justify, let alone prompt, such a response. Forget talking about corn, you need to seriously consider laying off the {insert your stimulant of choice} and I mean quick! God forbid if Varmint’s post would have mentioned the price of gas, groceries, or the mortgage crisis, I’m quite certain your head would have exploded. Please lie down and take a nap. It might also be a good idea to clear the room of sharp objects, just an observation mind you.

  10. Maddy says:

    If the price of gas and food keeps rising people aren’t going to be wasting hard earned money at a movie theater anyway.

  11. who says:

    there are some valid points made by this very angry person “ifimlyin…”. there are a couple of points that he/she is ignoring. this person, as much as he/she hates it, is part of the game. what type of hypocrite buys a computer and gets on the internet (how much money do you think bill gates has? you are probably using his programs genius) to piss in somebody’s cornflakes? nice work on stating the obvious to sound sooo intelligent. we all know that ball players make too much money (and do too many sterroids). most of us know that the war is way more important than the crap they put in front of us to cover it up. on the other hand, if this country is so sorry, move to an arabic country and make a difference, go influence the sheiks to drop the price per barrel of petroleum, go tell the russians to stop showing off their old tanks with newer weapons on them to look threatening, go tell kim jong ill to lighten up, china to stop poisoning the planet, iran to stop acting suspicious with uranium. just don’t come to a light hearted blog and rant heavy (not to mention personally attack a blogger and his innocent child). you, my friend, step back and look in the mirror, the gov’t has made you bitter and devilish as well…

  12. Varmint says:

    Thanks, dude.

    And for what it’s worth, all of my children are very, very fit. And although I’m overweight, I still run half marathons so that I don’t become morbidly obese.

    Oh, and the game we’re going to is a baseball game, not basketball.

  13. Maura says:

    @ fuzzy: “($4 for 5cents worth of coke anyone?)”

    Don’t forget $6 for a dime’s worth of corn kernels. Even if it’s a dollar’s worth of kernels, that’s still an insane markup.

    To ifimlying: There’s no reason to come to someone’s blog and insult him and, even worse, his kid. People choose their battles and decide what’s important enough to them to spend their money on. Or they can choose to live entirely off the grid. Taking his son to a game and a movie doesn’t make Varmint a patsy. He’s just a guy who wants to spend some time with his son. What a BASTARD!

    Sometimes an overpriced tub of popcorn is just that. Not everything is a political statement.

  14. Alan says:

    Tag you’re it! Please check my blog to know what I’m talking about!

    By the way, how was D.C.? I’m originally from just outside of there.

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