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Inflation at the Concession Stand — Again!

2748073833_e4d38ea061_bI’m the first to admit I always sneak food and drinks into the movie theater.

My decision to skip the concession stand is partially economic ($3.75 for a bottle of water?), but mainly about health (a homemade trail mix of raisins, raw almonds, and 85% cocoa dark chocolate is my favorite movie snack).

Alas, yesterday night I arrived to the movie theater emptyhanded.

Since dinner was part of the post-movie agenda, I only opted for a beverage.  A small beverage.

After two offers of upgrading to a medium beverage for just 50 more cents, I was presented with a “small” 30-ounce cup.  As in, the equivalent of two and a half cans of soda — 360 calories.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s only two fewer ounces of soda than a McDonald’s large drink.

What I find most disturbing is that, just a few years ago, a small movie theater drink clocked in at 24 ounces.

Will portion distortion ever stop?

PS: Can Small Bites readers outside the US let me know what constitutes a small fountain beverage in their country’s movie theaters?



  1. Annie said on September 7th, 2009

    At my movie theater in Germany a small beverage is 0.5 liter (about 17 ounces, if I can believe the online calculator). It’s a chain with movie theaters in many cities.

    The next sizes are 0.75 liter, 1 liter and 1.5 liter.

    When I buy the 0.5 liter for myself, I often cannot finish it. It’s too much for a 2 hour movie (or an even shorter movie). I normally share the 0.75 liter with someone, but even then it’s not unusual that we can’t finish it during the movie.

  2. Andy Bellatti said on September 7th, 2009


    Thank you for sharing!

    Wow — that is an astounding difference. A United States “small” is almost twice as large as Germany’s.

  3. Milton Stokes said on September 7th, 2009

    It’s only a few more pennies. Why not? ha!

  4. janine from Canada said on September 8th, 2009

    i haven’t been to a theatre in a long time, but doing a quick web search revealed the following coupon blitz at Canadian movie theatres. Scroll to the bottom and see the deals you can get – is the 44 oz drink REALLY a must-have??

  5. Sarah said on September 9th, 2009

    I work for a movie theater chain in NJ. The small soda is 22 oz., the medium is 32 oz. and the large is 44 oz. Most people who get the large (or even the medium sodas) share them with a date (or get some courtesy cups and share with 3 or 4 kids).

    Also, as a note about the pricing- yes, I think it is ridiculous to pay $4 for water. However, most of the money from ticket sales (think 75%-90%) goes to the people who actually made the movie, NOT the theater. The only way the theater stays in business is by overcharging at the concession stand. Plus, they’re open 365 days a year, even though non-summer weekdays are typically very slow, so they need to really profit in the summer to pay employees the rest of the year.

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