Ever gone to a movie theatre and spent more than you planned? Well, you are not alone since movie theatres are intentionally designed to make you spend more money, And let's agree, just the smell of fresh butter popcorn is enough to make us reach for our wallets.



The layout (even though not noticeable) plays a crucial role in helping theatre owners drive more revenue.


Let us analyze the above photo of a typical theatre. The first thing we notice in most cinemas is that we must cross the food court area before getting to the actual screen! And this in itself poses as the most significant trigger of purchase for most people.

And you may ask yourself, Why so?

Well, the answer is my next point- Aesthetics. The bright colours, the huge digital screens filled with images of luscious food, and deceiving combo-offers are all present there for a reason. Studies show that bright colours tend to attract people's attention. A close look at any multiplex would indicate that the food courts always carry eye-catching bright colours like Red or Orange to grab the customer's attention. Let's not forget the huge screens with pictures of scrumptious food and "attractive combo" offers that are just hard to ignore.

Still not satisfied? Next time you visit the nearest theatre, look closely at how the ticket window and the food courts are designed. You might conclude that the ticket counter lacks all the exquisiteness of the food court area, the colours are not scintillating, the smell is lackluster, to say the least (I mean, its obvious), and the whole area might seem to be more lethargically designed compared to the food court.


The food items in these theatres, if you noticed, are at least two times the regular market price, and the prices are set in such a way that a typical buyer is forced to buy the higher-priced product. Let us look at a scenario: Most movie theatres sell popcorn, and the prices, as discussed, are exorbitant. And the pricing mechanism is super smart; the popcorn is priced such that the consumer chooses the largest and the most expensive popcorn from the available options. A typical theatre has three ranges of popcorn prices a regular one priced at, let's say, $6, a medium one priced at $8, and a large one priced at $9.

Now carefully analyze the above prices. Generally, a typical consumer would either go for a regular popcorn or the large one, and a very few percentages of the consumers would actually purchase the medium one, which is priced at $8, only a dollar below the large one, making choosing between buying a large or medium size a no-brainer for an average consumer. This is one of the clever pricing methods used by theatres.


A typical movie lasts for 2 hours on average, and this in itself is enough to make my tummy rumble for more food. On top of that, theatres are notorious for not starting their movies on time, they tend to drag the time you spend at a theatre by showing a healthy dose of advertisements before the actual movie starts, and you might as well spend time in the "aesthetically perfect" food court and treat yourself to cola and a large popcorn instead of wasting time watching the advertisements.

Either way, it is a win-win for the theatre owners since they get revenue from both the channels i.e., the advertisements and the food courts.

And did I mention that the actual profit margins from the food courts are higher than the ones derived from movie tickets themselves! This only incentivizes the theatre owners to sell more food items.


Membership is another trap that most businesses use to attract a customer. Buy two large popcorn and coke to get free tickets to the next big movie release or buy combo X to get a free ticket for a friend, etc., are some of the common marketing tactics used by theatres to increase footfall. The free ticket might generate more profits for the theatres since the consumer is likely to buy something from the food court since they know the ticket is free, and getting something to munch on, along with the "free" movie, wouldn't hurt.


So, the next time you go to the movie theatre, try to be more conscious whilst spending your hard-earned money. Carbo loading before the movie is a way you can avoid hurting your wallet (Not to sound like a cheapo). Or try spending your money in a restaurant after the movie to derive higher value for the price.

Hopefully, you found this concept as enthralling as I did. For suggesting topics and sharing thoughts, use the comment section or email me at [email protected]