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.