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Movie Answer Man (02/09/2003)

Q. I enjoyed your Answerman response to the question about ads before movies. I always wonder how much the theatre gets paid. I mean, I pay $9.50 to get in. I can't imagine that all of the ads bring in more than a quarter per person. Is it really worth alienating your customer for a quarter? I don't think marketing people realize a lot of folks hate ads. The McDonald's across the street from Wrigley field has flat screen LCD monitors, flashing ads at you while you wait in line. How much could they possibly earn from those monitors? Does it offset the negative reaction it creates in some people? I enjoy the Century theatres in Evanston. But I went in to buy a Coke, paid them something like $4, and they handed me a cup for self-serve. The soda dispenser was filthy, and I couldn't tell which kind of lid was the right size. Buying a movie Coke it always grates me that the price was out of line. But there was something about having to fill it up myself, the dirty station, and having to hassle with the lid that did me in. I haven't bought a Coke since. I go to the convenience store and buy a 20 oz bottle, and sneak it in. They've pushed me over to the wrong side of the law. What do they pay the people behind the counter? $6 an hour, with no benefits? How many Cokes per hour can one person serve? What's the difference in profits between a self-serve Coke and one that their person makes? It doesn't make business sense. These guys are trying to squeeze more money out of people in lots of little ways, making the experience of going to the movies that much more unpleasant. At some point they will cross over a line, and people will stop going. I don't know where that point is, but I know it exists. (Alex Strasheim. Chicago)