Theaters look to stay afloat with help from takeout orders.

By Tim Nelson
April 29, 2020
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With so much of the world closed down, businesses have had to change how they operate on the fly. Case in point, restaurants are converting their parking lots into drive-in movie theaters in an effort to feed and entertain the masses at a time when the usual dinner and a movie date is all but impossible.

So what are movie theaters to do? Why, turn into a sort of takeout-only snack shop, of course. In recent days and weeks, theaters across the country have started offering snacks like popcorn to go in the hopes of drumming up some sales and helping make movie nights at home feel a bit more special.

Take Park Ridge Illinois’ Pickwick Theatre, for example. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the moviehouse has been taking online orders for popcorn and other snacks, which are delivered to customers curbside in fifteen minute delivery windows. Maybe it’s because that popcorn is going for a surprisingly reasonable $5 a box, but co-owner Dino Vlahakis says business has been “very successful,” with somewhere between 300 and 400 orders filled when the Pickwick first started its online efforts last month.

Classic Buttery Movie Theater Popcorn
Credit: bhofack2/Getty Images

Plenty of other independent  theaters around the country have followed suit. In addition to streaming the movies it shows online for $10 a ticket, Dallas-based Texas Theatre is making ends meet by selling “Survival Packs,” which include popcorn, candy, and merch representing the independent movie house. That’s alongside plenty of other movie theater snacks and goodies, including wine and craft beer.

Even after states reopen, it may take a little while longer for spaces like movie theaters to get the all-clear, and that doesn’t guarantee that customers will immediately return either. So if people want to pay to eat movie theater snacks (hopefully not for the usual movie theater prices), more power to them. After all, there really is no true substitute for good old-fashioned movie theater popcorn butter.