Finnkino prohibits viewers from bringing food to cinemas – “Selling popcorn was once a crisis solution to financial problems.”

The Finnkino cinema chain now prohibits visitors from bringing their own food and drinks to screenings. They want to compensate for the loss of income during the pandemic by selling popcorn, sweets and soft drinks. History repeats itself, as selling edibles in cinemas was originally invented in the United States in the 1930s at the height of the Great Depression.

You can no longer bring your own food and drinks to Finnkino cinemas. The new rule came into effect with the opening of the film distribution after the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

CFO Hannele Wolf-Mannila justifies the innovation by the loss of income during the coronavirus restrictions and the need to generate additional profits to cover losses. As Wolf-Mannila said in a telephone conversation, selling sweets, popcorn and beverages in movie theaters is as much a business activity as selling tickets and advertising. Wolfe-Mannila did not want to comment on what percentage of movie theaters’ revenue is from selling food.

Sweets and popcorn multiply cinema revenues

Visitors are accustomed to eating at movie shows in exactly the same way. how accustomed to the fact that in the theater or the opera they eat only during intermissions.

Why, in cinemas, the viewer can feast on the screen, although in the theater or ballet it would never even occur to him? This is an old custom that began with the film industry itself, says Associate Professor Jaakko Seppälä at the University of Helsinki.

– Food was not always allowed in movie theaters. This rule changed only in the 1930s in the United States.

After the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, the Great Depression began. In the 1930s, cinemas began to lose viewers because people simply did not have enough money for entertainment. To make up for at least some of the losses, cinemas began selling soft drinks and sweets to visitors, such as lemonade, chocolate bars and popcorn. From the USA, the custom spread all over the world.

“In practice, the sale of popcorn was a crisis solution to the economic problems that cinemas were struggling with with all their might,” says Seppälä. “At the same time, cinemas receive more income from the sale of food and drinks than from showing the films themselves.