This past weekend we had the pleasure of going on a date at a local theater that has recently turned into a discount theater. On this particular Saturday they were having a free admission day to spread the word about their new business venture and to give back to the community. It was a great opportunity for us to get out without having to spend a lot of money and we even got to see a movie we had missed the first time it was in theaters (can I just say on a side note that if you haven't seen Courageous, you MUST!).
Because we didn't have to pay for tickets we did indulge in a large popcorn and drink which came to a whopping $10...slightly horrifying but still a fraction of what tickets to a regular priced movie would have cost. As we were enjoying our refreshments and waiting for the movie to start, the owner of the theater came in to greet everyone and talk about the new changes occurring at the theater. He is hoping to host a free day each month but they have to sell enough concessions to be able to counter the costs of that. Because of this he asked that nobody bring in their own refreshments and that because they were being so generous in offering the movies for free, if they caught someone doing so they would be banned from the theater. Harsh? I don't think so especially since tickets were free and you weren't obligated to purchase something from concessions.
Fast forward to today when I was a part of a Facebook discussion about whether or not I sneak in my own snacks when going to the theater. Now it was easy for me to side with the owner of the theater that wasn't charging anything for tickets, but how do I feel when it comes to a full priced event? Can I just say not only was I in the minority when I said I didn't think it was right, but I was the only one out of more than 50 people voicing their opinions who answered that way. This kind of baffled me so I looked into it some more and found that this question had been asked before in various forums and it seemed that when the question of sneaking in food came up the resounding response is not only, "Yes, I do it" but it is also more times than not backed with a justification based on the prices of not only movie tickets but concessions themselves.
I get it. Really, I do. As a family of 5 if we attempt to go to a regular priced movie we are out almost $50. It seems just wrong to see a movie in the theater without the popcorn so that is at least $5 added to the bill and you can't ingest that much salt without something to wash it down with so tack on another $5 for a drink. $60 for a 2 hour experience that I could pay a dollar for if I wait for it to come to Redbox and do it in my own house. Looking at it through those eyes it is easy to bust out the extra big purse, start popping some popcorn in the microwave and make a stop at the dollar store for cheap movie style candy before heading to the next showing. Honestly, there was a time when I used to do this very thing.
But is it right? Am I justified? Here's the way I look at it. I am not obligated to buy concessions when I go to the movie. That is a choice. If I am horrified by the cost of said snacks I can make a stand by not purchasing them. Heck, I can make an even bigger stand by avoiding theaters all together (which, by the way, I usually do because it just doesn't fit in our budget. Hence us jumping on the free movie day opportunity). I think using the cost as a reason to bring in my own stuff is like saying the price at a restaurant is an excuse not to tip the waiter. When you choose a restaurant with a waitstaff you need to go in expecting to include that into your cost. If you aren't willing to do that, you really should be going to self-serve places instead or just eating at home. I feel the same about the movies - if you aren't willing to pay for the services, skip them or don't go.
Another thing I have to wonder is, if it is okay in the eyes of so many, why do you have to sneak it in? Big purses, coats with extra pockets, and diaper bags are just a few of the ways people have been known to carry in outside goodies. But if the practice of bringing in your own food is something you feel fine doing, why not walk right in with the food in hand? Obviously taking these kind of measures to hide it signifies an understanding that what you are doing isn't allowed and if you were to blatantly do it there may be ramifications. If that is the case, how can it be right?
I understand that to most this is a pretty mild moral dilemma. Anything that we can recognize as fairly popular practice is easy to shrug off and consider no big deal. For me, this really began to strike a chord after I had my kids. What do I say to them when they read that big sign that says "No outside food or beverages permitted" while stashing boxes of jujubes I stuffed in their pockets? Or when I tell them we have to wait until it's dark in the theater to eat our goodies and to make sure to hide them if a person with a flashlight comes around? Would I really feel good teaching them that it's okay to be sneaky if it involves spending too much money or that it's no big deal because everyone else does it? For me the answer is no. I don't feel okay teaching them that. There is right and there is wrong and when I began to blur the line on that I am treading on a very slippery slope.
Now obviously going into this post I knew that my opinion on this subject was not a popular one. Having said that, I would love to hear your two cents on it. Either side of the fence I am interested to have you weigh in on the right or wrong of bringing your own food into a theater. Hit me with it - In your opinion, is it okay and why or why not?