Sunday, January 17, 2010


Cabin fever finally got the best of us last year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that for the first time since 2002, consumers spent more money on movie theater tickets than we did on buying movies to watch at home. (Those are U.S. figures, but for expediency's sake we'll proceed on the shopworn assumption that Canadians are just Americans with a heavier tax burden. Way heavier). Relative to other forms of outside-the-home entertainment, you still get a decent bang for your buck at the cinema...right up until you get to the candy counter.

I'm okay with dropping 10 to 15 dollars on popcorn and a drink as long as I'm getting something close to a decent count ("count" being 1970s drugspeak for whether your dealer padded your dimebag with stalks and seeds, but I digress), but that party is apparently over.

I took one of my boys to the movies over the Christmas holidays, and ordered my usual small soft drink, expecting and accepting that I'm going to get something of equivalent size to a regular can or bottle at a ridiculously exorbitant mark-up. What I got was an oversized Dixie Cup - about half of what a small drink used to be at the same theater - for $3.93.

But that's not the worst of it. When I gave the kid working the candy counter four dollars, HE ASKED ME IF I WOULD LIKE MY SEVEN CENTS CHANGE. Honest to sweet baby Jesus. I was dumbfounded. I don't know whether it's theater policy or if he wanted the seven cents for himself, but I immediately and instinctively lapsed into people-pleaser mode and HANDED HIM ANOTHER 50 CENTS so I wouldn't be a cheap tipper.

Okay, I'm an idiot for coughing up the extra 57 cents, and I didn't have to buy the drink in the first place. I could have smuggled in my own drink. I get all of that. But come on.

For a lot of us, loading up with snacks at the candy counter is an integral and time-honored aspect of the movie-going experience, and I've long since come to terms with the price-gouging. But they've finally crossed the line. Not only do they hose me for a glorified thimble of Diet Coke, but they guilt me into letting them keep the change. I don't care if the kid was doing it on his own initiative. As an employee, he represents the theater, and if he asks me if I want my change, he's exercising theater policy. Shame on them, and shame on me. I recently resigned from a relatively lucrative job on principle, but I won't stand up for myself over seven cents.

Oh well, at least I got to see Alvin and the Chipmunks.



  1. Yesterday my husband and I went to the movies, it cost us 29$ to get in! I hid a bag of gummie bears in my purse..THANK GOD!

  2. Ted,

    I miss you on CHOM in the mornings, but this blog helps very much. How come I can relate very easily to theatre piece...must the Maritime thing or something...take care.

    Stephane Saint John NB

  3. Maybe you were dealing with the future CEO of an investment bank...

  4. You're more honest than I am. At best, hubby and I will buy a drink at the movies. The snacks are snuck in via the large, oversized purse. Do I feel guilty for it? Not one bit!

  5. Good One Ted...
    I can see this blog thing is going to work out.
    I started blogging the same time you did, last week.

    I haven't been to a theatre in so long... Used to hit the drive-ins years ago, "Dollard" or the "Border Drive-In" out in Bainsville for the all night horor flicks... Dawn Of The Dead and so on... those were the days pal.

    I should take in the theatre some time but I still have a relationship with the pause button. Pee breaks etc... not 39 anymore.

    Hoping you have a great day.


  6. Ted,

    Would love if you give your two cents on the Habs after each game.

  7. You brought tears to my eyes Ted...Tears of laughter. Thanks for a great start to my Sunday.
    I can't remember the last time I actually saw a movie in the theatre, I somehow prefer the comfort of my own couch, the option of having a cold beer or other beverage forbidden in the theatres and use of a bathroom that hundreds of strangers have not used!!

  8. Ted,

    Just wanted to congradulate you on your new endeavor namely the blog. Once again you show us that you are indeed brilliant. Your style of humour whether oral or written puts a smile on my face every time. If you need some cash you may want to try broadcasting a Pirate Radio show from a small canoe on the St-Lawrence river. By the way if Hitler shared his cookies with me I would toss them all over him. Thanks

  9. I am so enjoying your blog..reading you is almost as good as hearing you. I actually read the blog with your voice in my head and it cracks me up. It reminds me a little bit of listenng to Garrison Keillor reading Lake Woebegone on the radio years ago.

  10. 39 cents to Orville or 5 bucks to contest.

  11. Trying again as per Marilyn. I won't reiterate what i put on your facebook except the thing about that gorgeous photo, awesome! But i want to ask Danielle if you really held true to cleaning the boy's bathroom and if indeed it does not give you a new appreciation for insisting that they sit down to pee! Frank cleaned the bathroom 'count them' ONCE and decided that sitting down to pee was not only better for prostate health but much desired from a hygiene standpoint! (am referring only to home urination gentlemen, don't sit to pee in public)

  12. Loved listening to you in the mornings. How I will enjoy reading your bird droppings.

    For the kids!

  13. Ted the Dollar Cinema is still open and if you can wait a month........$2 to get in and a good size bag of popcorn and a drink cheap......just a suggestion now that you are unemployed. Like the rest of us in this dying province.

  14. Unfortunately some movies you HAVE to see at the cinema. THe special effects are lost on a small screen. But I agree that the snack prices are ridiculous!

  15. The last movie I saw at the cinema, I figure Clinton was still in power. We were continually interrupted by people behind with their loud comments and the rustling and crinkling of chip bags by those who snuck in their own snacks. BTW the cola they sell is in fact Coke but the kind that's made with the syrup and sparkling water. That with almost half of the glass filled with ice and voila, ice cold brown tasteless tonic water.

  16. What about $9:50 for a beer at the Bell Centre...and they expect at least a 50 cent tip!

  17. On tipping: the wife sends me to Tim Hortons for a cold coffee mocha drink (yukk). Its a hot day, but I go, in my classic 70's car, at $4.00 a gallon. So I pull up to the drive-thru, order, advance and wait, and wait and wait. Finally, the girl comes to the window, the cost is $2.70 tax in, I give her a loonie and a toonie, she gives me the drink, closes her window, and goes away! So, trying not to get into a rage, I honk repeatedly. She comes back. I ask for my change. She was HIGHLY insulted, and most likely humiliated that I wanted my 30 cents back. She didn't even ASK. I did send a fax of complaint to the President of Tim Hortons, but that's the last time I ever go to a Tims. For 30 cents, they lost a long time customer.

  18. This is why I go to the movies in the afternoon and refuse to spend one red cent on "refreshments"...

  19. Oh, yeah...who's the shit-for-brains that said you'd be forgotten after 24 hours?

  20. I worked at a movie theatre for 5+ years and never heard of any employee asking if people wanted their change back. Instead they worked out schemes to take much more $ from the register.

  21. Ted,

    we went to scotia bank to see the movie
    law abiding citizen..
    and bought a popcorn..and the buggers want
    and extra 80cents plus tax for hot butter(and its margerine) and 2 itty bitty squirts..
    what a rip off..its a real crime..
    also the next day we went to see paranormal activity..what a piece of garbage,,
    but this time no charge for the butter..for some reason the vendor didnt ask?..
    and at amc its on the other side of the counter and you can put as much butter as you carge..
    the scotia bank theatre has got outa hand
    even charge for cheese on nachos..
    well go figure why preople downlo0ad movies
    to watch FREE!!!!


  22. Don't forget all those ridiculous games/arcades crap while waiting for your movie to start. Or having to drag your kids out by their ears because after spending a mint on the film and all the snacks they are pitching a fit because you refuse to pop in another $20 for "tokens" so they can play 2 games. Oh wait..those are my kids.

  23. not to mention as the person above
    said about those token machines,..

    half of them are out of order..
    hey i went with my 2 kids years ago to
    megaplex and it was 75.00bucks to see tomb raider..3 admissions and 3 popcorn and 2 slush.. that was then its 100 bucks..

    id rather go see the 3-d movies at least
    theres more entertainment..
    cloudy with a chance of meatballs was real
    neat and the xmas carol.. ok 15.00 but
    they include the glasses in the price..

    dont know how anyone could stomach paranormal was the most usless piece of garbage ive ever seen..
    for once in my life i felt like asking for my money back...!!


  24. Ted, Ted, Ted.....for such a highly principled man to be brow-beaten by some (probably) pimply-faced teenager into hacking up another token of screening as an added tip really disappoints me...ummm, but I understand totally. Sometimes, the effrontery just catches one off-guard and the next thing you know - BAM - they have most of your paycheck and your head is facing the wrong damn way watching where you came from!
    This whole blog thing is very cool!
    After listening to you and Terry on and off since your first days in town, I find it sad to see the disappearance of so much of own talented voices! You are missed...NOW - keep posting the funnies!!