In-house concession revenue is a major money maker for movie theaters, and Berkshire County is no exception.
But while Pittsfield’s Beacon Cinema has come under fire for its strict enforcement of its "no outside food" policy, other local theaters are less concerned with patrons who bring in their own items.
"We encourage people to buy concessions here," said Janet Curran, the managing director of Images Cinema in Williamstown. "But if people have outside food we usually don’t make a big deal about it."
At the North Adams MoviePlex 8, general manager Scott Ingalls said patrons are asked not bring outside food and beverage items into the theater.
"But we don’t do searches or anything like that," he said.
Ingalls said the MoviePlex does ban patrons from bringing large backpacks into the facility, but said that policy was instituted because of the bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon.
Regal Entertainment Group of Knoxville, Tenn., which owns the Regal Berkshire Mall 10 cinemas in the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
The Beacon, located in Pittsfield, has come under criticism recently by some patrons who claim that management has been heavy-handedly enforcing a policy barring them from bringing in their own food and beverages.
Richard Stanley, the Beacon’s managing partner, said revenue from in-house concessions contribute significantly to the theater’s revenue. Curran said Images, a nonprofit with only 150 seats, receives most of its revenue from ticket sales and concessions, while Ingalls said concession sales make up about 70 percent of the MoviePlex’s revenue.
At Images, patrons who intend to bring food and beverages into the theater usually ask staffers first, "and we say yes," said Curran, "unless it’s something that’s going to make a mess."
Given the state of the economy, Ingalls said he’s aware people are going to try and bring their own items into the MoviePlex. But if they’re caught, he said staffers won’t take those items away.
"Honestly, no," he said. "We just say the next time don’t bring anything in. We understand the economy is bad. ... If something slips by us, it slips by us."
Curran said Images has been considering adding healthier choices to its in-house concession menu. "We have been looking into dried fruits, but haven’t found a distributor yet," she said.
The MoviePlex has offered healthier concession items in the past, but Ingalls said patrons didn’t like them.
"We did introduce a hummus and pretzel type thing," he said. "It didn’t do well. People come to the theater for the good stuff: the candy and the popcorn. In our market it’s too small of a market to do that."
To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
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Snack time ...
The percentage of people by age group who eat and drink the typical items that are normally found in movie theater concession stands:
All ages: 51 percent
Under 40: 58 percent
41-50: 70 percent
51-60: 55 percent
Over 61: 45 percent
All ages: 37 percent
Under 40: 53 percent
41-50: 56 percent
51-60: 42 percent
Over 61: 30 percent
All ages: 7 percent
Under 40: 20 percent
41-50: 21 percent
51-60: 7 percent
Over 61: 3 percent
Don’t buy movie theater snacks
All ages: 44 percent
Under 40: 32 percent
41-50: 20 percent
51-60: 40 percent
Over 61: 50 percent
Source: Percentages are rounded off from a chart compiled by MillionaireCorner.com.