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Sunday Matinee
written by Mike Ballew April 9, 2023
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For the first time since the pandemic hit, my wife and I went to the movies last week. Being the opposite of night owls, we chose a Sunday matinee. As an added bonus the theater website said matinee tickets were 30% off the regular price. 

As soon as we arrived we noticed something was different. The ticket booth was gone. It had been replaced by a kiosk inside which worked like a Redbox without the DVDs. We scrolled through the movies and showtimes and found what we came for. It took a bit of time so I was surprised to see there was only one machine. Apparently all the cool kids buy their tickets online.

After we went to all the trouble to buy our tickets, there was no one to take them. Everyone just wandered around until they found their theater. I can imagine underage kids taking advantage of the situation to sneak into R-rated movies. When I was a kid, we had to do it the old-fashioned way – buy a PG ticket and switch theaters on the way back from the restroom. 

The theater was pretty full, which I took as a good sign for the economy. Although we arrived at the appointed time we had to sit through 30 minutes of commercials and previews. We decided to get some popcorn. “Just a small," my wife whispered, “for both of us."

Buttered Popcorn

Much like a hotdog at the ballpark, there’s nothing quite like buttered popcorn at the movie theater. Despite the fact some would have you believe movie theater popcorn butter kills more people than smoking, as infrequently as we go to the movies it seemed like a reasonable risk.

At the counter I honored my wife’s wishes and ordered a small. I returned with a huge bag of popcorn and a Coke just shy of 2 liters. “That’s a small?!" she asked. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t finish the popcorn.

We enjoyed the movie and I’m glad we went. I view every outing with my wife as priceless, so I am not complaining about the cost. However, as a finance blogger I feel compelled to evaluate the value from a financial perspective. For two matinee tickets, one small popcorn, and a small soda, the total cost was $33.

Movie Magic

For $33 you can get an entire month of streaming from two or three service providers. For most people, that’s essentially an unlimited supply of movies. So on one hand we have one movie and some popcorn, and on the other an unlimited supply of movies. Seems like a pretty straightforward evaluation.

Also, there are certain advantages to watching movies at home. You can pause anytime to grab a snack or use the restroom. And you can pause to share your thoughts on what you’re watching (my wife counts that as a disadvantage).

Of course, there are areas where a movie theater shines. Theaters have the latest movies that you can’t see anywhere else. Plus, there’s that movie theater sound system which gets increasingly annoying with age. Oh, and there’s the kid behind you who keeps kicking your seat.

The Last Word

Movie theaters have earned a special place in our hearts. Where better to go on a first date or see the latest action flick too big to watch on TV?

People have been predicting the demise of the movie theater since the dawn of the VCR. Yet they have survived Blockbuster, DVDs, Redbox, Netflix, streaming services, and a pandemic. I think it’s safe to say movie theaters aren’t going away anytime soon. 

Photo credit: Pixabay Eggstack News will never post an article influenced by an outside company or advertiser. Our mission is to help you overcome uncertainty about retirement planning and inspire confidence in your financial future.
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MIKE BALLEW
Eggstack founder, Financial Planning Association member, engineer, and software developer.