CBS's Mark Knoller Compares Movie Theaters to Big Oil

In an Andy Rooneyesque rant about how his latest movie-going experience "left much to be desired," CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller hinted he wouldn't mind seeing liberal consumers groups tackle hefty snack prices at the nation's movie theaters. He even suggested the short titles for two bills Congress could draft on that front.

From Knoller's November 12 Couric & Co. blog post (emphasis mine):

The fact is, most movie theaters are glorified snack bars. On average, they keep only 50% or less of the ticket price, far less for blockbusters in their opening weeks. Much of a theater’s profit comes from the concession stand.

Regal, one of the nation’s largest multiplex chains, reported the 3rd quarter profit margin at its snack bars exceeded 86%.

And the markup – especially on popcorn – is eye-popping. The Los Angeles Times last year calculated that just $30 of raw popcorn can translate into as much as $3,000 in sales at the snack bar.

That sounds like a markup that would make the oil industry blush.


But it wouldn’t surprise me if some consumer-oriented member of Congress tried to address these concerns in legislation.

Imagine “The Truth in Movie Start Times Act of 2007.” It would require theater operators to begin their feature films within five minutes of their listed times – or members of the audience would be entitled to a refund.

Or how about “The Snack Bar Fair Pricing and Equity Act of 2007,” restricting markups on popcorn, hot dogs and soda sold at theaters and ball parks.

It sounds silly, but so does the idea of fat taxes that left-wing groups flirt with as ways to punish consumers for picking Big Macs over babaganoush.

Of course, even if Knoller's resentment at paying $9.50 for theater snacks doesn't prod Couric or her company to do an expose on Big Cinema, our friends at the Business & Media Institute can attest to the media's fear and loathing of oil companies, which the media frequently accuse of price gouging, unfair practices, and "windfall" profits.

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