How Much Does Popcorn Cost at the Movie Theater?
Buying popcorn at the theater is almost a given. Unfortunately, the cost of the popcorn has doubled since 1929, when its price was extraordinarily affordable and every person could buy huge quantities without investing a lot of money. As the time went by, the pre-inflation price increased and the overall price of the popcorn became higher than ever.
How much is it?
- If you compare theaters, the price of popcorn ranges a great deal based on the city, the theater chain and the amount of popcorn that you want. Some places might sell it for only $3, while the other will charge you $4.75 or even higher. On average, plan on paying $6 to $10 for a large tub of popcorn, while a small tub will cost you about $4 or so.
- According to this ABC News report, the average tub of popcorn at a movie theater costs more per ounce than a filet mignon. They state the average small bucket of popcorn will usually cost $5.50 or so.
What is going to be included?
- Popcorn is usually served in three different sizes. In most cases, you will be able to find a small (around 44 ounces), a medium (around 85 ounces) and a large (around 170 ounces).
- When ordering popcorn from a movie theater, they will put extra butter on it for you if you would like them to. There will also normally be a choice of seasonings, such as white cheddar, that can be sprinkled on the popcorn.
- Almost all theaters will offer free refills on the popcorn you purchase, but usually only in the largest size. Some theaters will limit it to one refill while others will offer unlimited.
- There are many theaters that are now offering healthier choices of popcorn such as butter free or popcorn that is made using olive oil.
What are the extra costs?
- If you plan to buy popcorn from the theater, the main cost you should be concerned about is the cost of your popcorn tub: depending on its size, you will be charged lower or higher amounts of money. While a smile tub might seem affordable, a large one will require a double amount of money or even more. For instance, if a small tub of popcorn costs $3, you might spend up to $6 or more on a large one.
- Buying a drink in addition to the popcorn can add another $3 to $6 to your total expenses, but there are usually free refills offered for the drinks as well. There is also candy available or snacks such as nachos.
- Some theaters will serve the popcorn and pop to you in the theater, much like a restaurant will do when serving your food. Some theaters even offered luxury seating with the option of ordering dinner and even alcoholic beverages. This will be an extra cost and will require a tip.
Tips to know:
- When you go to the theater and want to purchase popcorn, buy the tub that seems more advantageous for you. You might be surprised about the fact that many theaters do not balance very well the quantity and price of a popcorn tub. It is all about arithmetic – if a small tub costs $4 and a large one costs only $6, it is more convenient to opt for the large one, especially if free refills are offered. Given that two small tubs equal a large one in terms of quantity, you will end up saving $2 – a significant amount of money if you analyze well your situation.
- Although the prices of food at a movie theater can be quite high, there is always the rule of “no outside food or drinks allowed.” Trying to sneak food or candy into the theater could result in them asking you to leave, most of the time without a refund.
How can I save money?
- A very good option to save money is purchasing a menu combo that includes a tub of popcorn, along with a drink or other items. Pay close attention to the prices and make your calculations – compare the costs and see if any of the menus is convenient for your needs. If you have the opportunity to get another popcorn tub for free when buying a medium or large-sized one, take advantage.
- Many theaters offer special packages for kids. These usually come with a small container of popcorn, a box of candy, and a drink for $5 to $7. This will be much cheaper than purchasing all of these separately.
- If you go to the movies a lot, consider signing up for their frequent movie-goer cards. These cards will often reward you with free popcorn and other rewards.
- Most theaters may offer popcorn refills at a lower cost if they are not free.