If you’re fed up with the high cost of theater concessions, then you may want to take a page out of this AMC customer’s book to get the most bang for your buck.
A TikToker named Eli (@lifeaccordingtoeli) recorded himself filling up a popcorn bucket with soda in a movie theater’s self-serve Coca-Cola freestyle machine, setting up a perfect storm of multiple bathroom runs during his trip to the theater. (Here’s hoping he didn’t watch Oppenheimer.)
@lifeaccordingtoeli @AMC+ thanks for the gallon of coke😭🤞 #fyp #lifehack #bro ♬ Last Days – Trippie Redd
Eli begins his video mirthlessly looking into the camera lens as he wears a Burger King hat. “Mfs really thought I was about to pay $7 for a small soda,” he writes in a text overlay of the video.
The clip then cuts to what appears to be a very large cup he placed in the dispensing area of a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, however, another transition in the video reveals someone taking a sip out of a massive container.
In a final image in the TikTok, Eli reveals that the “cup” he used at the movie theater was actually a popcorn bucket. So instead of paying $7 for a small fountain beverage, he decided to get his money’s worth at the movies while walking around with a ginormous bucket of carbonated goodness. The only problem? It doesn’t seem like there are lids large enough to cover a bucket that big.
One commenter referenced the profit margins for fountain soda, stating that the theater still probably made a decent amount of money in spite of Eli’s hack.
“The fact that they probably still profited is ridiculous. soda is so cheap for them to make,” they wrote.
This was a sentiment echoed by someone else who watched his clip. “They still making money off that tho,” the user commented.
Someone else quipped that it’s because of customers like Eli that they weren’t able to pour themselves a Coke at the movie theater, with one user writing, “Is this why the one I went to was out of coke completely?”
Judging by a remark left from a viewer, it seems some movie theater employees not only turn a blind eye to these kinds of shenanigans from customers but seemingly encourage it with some patrons.
“I work at a movie theatre and let a kid fill a small popcorn tub with slushie once,” one user shared.
However, there can be hazards to engaging in this kind of self-serve tomfoolery at the movie theater, something that this TikToker learned the hard way.
“My boy did this w icee instead of soda and was I tryna grab a handful of popcorn, stuck my hand right in icee, was laughing so hard i had to leave,” the user said.
The high costs of getting yourself food and drink at the movies have long been a sticking point for theatergoers. According to Reader’s Digest, movie theater popcorn, on average, is marked up a whopping 1,275%.
One recurring argument for the high costs of movie theater concession prices is that the majority of the profits theaters earn are from the snacks and drinks that they offer. However, this isn’t always the case. Yahoo! consulted with finance expert Humphrey Yang who broke down how much large theater chains earn from ticket sales and concessions, compared to what smaller independent theaters bring in.
Mom-and-pop ventures absolutely rely on concession sales in order to make their money. Yang states that approximately 80% of all the profits these underdog operations rake in come from the food and beverages they move to theatergoers and only 20% of their revenue from actual movie ticket sales.
This is mainly due to the profit-sharing structures that studios have with theaters in the first few weeks of a movie’s release. Yang said that he was stunned to learn ticket sales revenues for hot and fresh releases mainly go to the studios—anywhere from 80-100% of all those sales. This means that these theaters have to rely on the food that they’re selling. The longer a movie stays in theaters, however, those ratios cool off a bit, leveling out at a 50/50 split.
For spots like AMC and Regal, they earn more money from ticket sales—around 65% of all the money these larger chains make come directly from ticket sales, with the other 35% of their revenue coming from snacks.
So the moral of the story is, maybe don’t feel too bad about the Dollar Tree candy you’ve tucked away in your cargo pants’ side pockets on your next AMC outing. If you’re at a local theater, however, do them a solid and grab a bucket of popcorn and a soda—your tickets are probably cheaper anyway. Then again, those reclining seats are pretty nice.
The Daily Dot has reached out to AMC via email and Eli via TikTok comment.