Monday, March 12, 2007

A cineplex -- your healthy alternative

In a recent LA TIMES article, it seems the raging controversy this week at the ShoWest convention is what kind of grease should movie theater popcorn be cooked in? This issue is polarizing major chain owners, threatening to rip apart the industry as a whole!! The healthier (but not much) canola oil or the silent killer, coconut oil? Are we poisoning our children, our most precious natural resource, with trans fats?

Bill Towey, senior vice president of the 1,498 theater National Amusements says, “Do we have a moral obligation to make the community healthy? Yes, we feel we have some obligation.” I’m sure that is why his theater chain proudly features fruits and vegetables like Raisinets and NutRageous bars.

But the truth is your local 35 screen bunker at the end of the mall makes 45% of its profits on concessions. That $5 tub of popcorn costs them maybe ten cents. They don’t want to worry that if there’s a bad frost this winter that the carrot crop is going to be way more expensive… despite their “moral obligation”.

It’s JUNK FOOD, people! It’s crap. It’s sugars and salts and toxic saturated fats. Who are they kidding with canola oil? That’s tobacco companies saying their cigarettes are healthier because they use LESS tar. We KNOW what we’re getting. We may not know going in that MUSIC AND LYRICS is just another formulaic romantic comedy until the second ten minutes but we do know that Milk Duds is not a milk substitute and Jujubees have pulled out more teeth than dentists. But they taste yummy. And sitting through BEYOND THE SEA will take more years off your life that Goobers.

Better that ShoWest focus on other things – like eliminating commercials, charging reasonable prices, turning away babies, showing decent prints, and banning Oliver Stone movies.

Meanwhile, on the convention floor, Jose Mier is peddling Capital Churros to theater owners. Deep fried, covered in sugar, 16 inches and stuffed with Bavarian cream, caramel, and strawberries. But fear not, movie goers – Mr. Mier says of his Capital Churros, “We try to make them as healthy as possible.”

20 comments:

The Captain said...

Churros may well be the greatest food to come from south of the border since the tequila worm.

I agree that the commercials should go, and the babies. I doubt they would consider lowering prices unless people stop showing up in earnest.

Hopefully the tequila worm will never, ever be allowed to be served at the movie snack counter. That would make us long for the days of screeching toddlers.

TCinLA said...

Yet more reasons to wait for the DVD on the Monday-Thursday 99-cent rental special, when you can get a modern Hollywood movie for only 10 times what it is actually worth. Last movie I saw in a theater was "Master and Commander" in November 2003, and haven't missed a thing since.

Screaming babies, morons on cellphones making real estate deals, crappy popcorn (I can make my own at home and use real butter if I want). And at home I can have a good beer rather than one of their watery cokes.

I used to go to the movies every Friday night to see what was new. But that was back when they made movies, rather than released "product."

This Girl said...

ummmm, churros. It doesn't matter if they fry the food in canola or coconut oil. That processed grease they called movie theatre butter (which I love and would marry had it a soul) takes ever last drib or drab of health out of it. So, again, I say, ummmm, churros.

Al in Portland said...

Are you saying Raisinets AREN'T healthy?

maven said...

Hearing people try to unwrap their crappy candy, slurp their gigantic sodas, and play around with their popcorn, and answer their cellphones, and watch their uncontrollable kids run around, and hearing some woman repeating everything to her hard-of-hearing husband has convinced us not to go to the theaters anymore. That's why we finally broke down and got a 73" HDTV!

Ken Levine said...

Had to delete another Anonymous comment. Again, you're welcome to take issue with me but you've got to leave your name.

This Anonymous person accused me of plagiarizing an LA Times article about concessions at the ShowWest convention. Uh...no. I used that article as a springboard for my take on the subject. I invite anyone to read the article and my post and see if I lifted anything other than direct quotes.

Oh, and for Mr. Anonymous, it's Kaavya Viswanathan, not Kaavya Ciswanathan.

Ken Levine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Bravo! If I want to feel cleansed, I'l go to a spa.

As for the popcorn, I wish they'd just find the tastiest oil and leave me alone. That coconut oil makes the popcorn taste like suntan lotion.

However they make the popcorn at Landmark Theaters, that's how everyone should do it.

(I came to this site through the Martini Shot podcast. I thought you should know.)

Paul said...

I've always brought my own snacks into the theater, in plain view. I've never been stopped from eating them.

After 9pm = no babies allowed. I like this idea. Run with it, Ken.

Willy B. Good said...

Thank God they don't have those healthy sounding Capitol Churros in New Zealand or else I would weigh like 300 pounds and find it hard to squeeze into theater seats.

Tom Quigley said...

Any cineplex operator in this day and age should seriously consider getting out of the business and investing in companies that sell and install home theater systems. That's where this is all leading to. In 10 years, the showtimes listed in our local newspapers will only be for when we'll be able to download a flick and watch it on our 10-foot projection screens at home (which I'm already able to due, thank you very much, due to my laptop and my media projector -- the watching part, not the downloading). Then we can clog our own arteries, listen to our babies cry, answer our cell phones, and carry on a loud, annoying conversation over the ending of THE SIXTH SENSE in the privacy of our own ultra hi-tech 3-room apartments...

Mr. Hollywood said...

I hate to sound like a snob, but the only theater I go to is the DGA theater (thank God I'm a member). At least I know the people watching the films are there...to watch a film! No eating or talking during the film or cell phones or screaming kids ... or lousy pre-film commercials and trailers (don't they all look and sound the same?) hawking upcoming dreck films1
And I agree with others and you too Ken ... DVD's are wonderful in the comfort of your own home. I really have never needed the shared movie-going experience.
P.S. - how could anyone say you ripped off the LA Times article? It was a catalyst for your own thoughts. And keep em' coming Ken. Love your perspective on things.

Tracelator said...

Oh please people. Going to the movies is a communal experience of which we have fewer and fewer these days. Anyway if movies are so crappy then what does it matter if someone is crinkling their candy wrapper. By all means, stay at home and watch "Happy Feet" on your 73" HDTV and keep your misanthropic sour puss well away from my screaming children.

Tom Quigley said...

I think I must have been sitting next to Tracelator and family the last time I went to the movies.... Time to fire up the projector again....

Mary Stella said...

What do the theaters in New York do since the Big Apple banned trans fats?

I have the best cinema experience in the world in our little local, one-screen theater in Marathon in the Florida Keys. $6 for a ticket. $1.85 for a small popcorn. (Canola oil, coconut oil... who cares? Not like we eat it all the time.) Years ago, the theater was a lounge. They retained a partial liquor license which means we have a choice of wine and beer. We can sit in swiveling club chairs, put our refreshments on tables and enjoy the show.

Prior to the movie, the manager comes out and reminds everybody to turn off their cell phones and, if they MUST take a call, to have the courtesy to go outside.

Peter G. said...

Don't want to be a nitpicker, but it's "MUSIC and Lyrics". "Words and Lyrics" is kinda, you know, redundant....

And that film was actually okay. Not great, but cute and amusing...

poor man said...

You have no idea how many NORBITs I will sit through if Mr. Mier succeeds in getting those delicious, soul-massaging, sugar-fried bits of goodness called churros into the cineplexes.

I love him and hate him all at the same time.

As a commercial actor I'm deeply offended by commercials in front of my movies. Commercials have no place at the movie theaters. And that goes for the movies themselves. *cough*The Island*cough*.

Oh, and best movie experience I ever had was when I lived in Portland, OR. Google the McMenamins. They're doing something right. The movies weren't first-run, but the experience was always a first-class. Good beer, food, flicks and people.

Boutique movie houses are the way to go.

Abby said...

Arclight popcorn. I don't care if it kills me. I lurrrrve it. And I asked -- it's popped in coconut oil Which is apparently better for you than canola, if you believe the "Dr. Mercola"s of the world.

Diane said...

Last Spring I received a phone call from a someone supposedly taking a survey on movie going habits and she wanted to know how many movies I'd been out to see in the previous 3 months; she literally gasped when I said zero, and she wanted to know if there was any other member of the household who was a more active movie goer that she could speak to. (There was not).

If she had bothered to ask, many of the things you mentioned (as well as those leaving comments) would have been listed as some of the reasons I stay away. At the top, of course, would have been the lack of quality films offered in any given week.

But I have to admit that since then, I have actually left the house to see Little Miss Sunshine, Casino Royale, Notes on a Scandal, and Zodiac. I enjoyed them all, but would guess that only Casino Royale was probably enhanced by being viewed on a big screen.

On the other hand, a theater with churros and a liquor license could help me see the error of my ways.

Chester said...

What a relief!

I live in Brazil, and one of my biggest fears involving leaving my country for a long period of time is the abistinence of churros (which you can find pretty much anywhere here).

It is *GREAT* news to know that there are churros outside Latin America. Life will be sustainable now! :-)