Thursday, 18 October 2012

King of Popcorn

Early this year, for better or worse, the noble people of Bradford West elected one of the UK's biggest political characters back to Parliament. Like him or loathe him, George Galloway is without a doubt a strong voice for the causes he represents, so the film industry should now be quaking in its money that Galloway has set his sights on them and their overpriced snacks

Apparently one of the most pressing concerns to Galloway's constituents is not...ok, I admit I was going to find some more important local Bradford news stories at this point, but after a trawl through Bradford's local newspaper, I see that the price of cinema snacks may actually be quite high up their agenda.

In this interview with the Daily Politics, which Dead Ringers once described as "CBeebies for pensioners", Galloway explains why he's table an Early Day Motion against cinema confectionary prices. The precise wording of the motion is as follows

"That this House deplores the profiteering by cinema chains in the provision of catering to their customers where the prices of sweets, drinks and ice creams in the foyers are many times those on the high street; notes that this particularly affects families with young children at whom much of the merchandising is aimed; calls on cinemas to stop exploiting their customers by insisting that the stalls and franchises inside their buildings reduce their prices to a level commensurate with local shops and restaurants; and congratulates the cinema goers who are campaigning for fair prices."

Not only is Gorgeous George, and by gorgeous I mean borderline insane, making a complete fool out of himself by using parliamentary time on something so petty, he's also demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the subject in hand.

His appearance on the Daily Politics begins with him being asked why he is suddenly interested in popcorn and he replies "I had to buy it". That's a lie, isn't it George? You didn't have to buy it. I go to the cinema on a regular basis and I never buy popcorn. If you were at a cinema with an enforced popcorn buying policy, you should take your business elsewhere. That's the beauty of competition.

He blames having to buy popcorn on his kids. "You can't drag your kids, saying 'I want popcorn, I want have to buy it". Again, not true. What you're essentially admitting is that you're tabling an Early Day Motion attacking cinemas because of your own parental failings. Telling your children they can't have everything they want is a crucial part of being a parent. Sure, they might cry this time, but next time they will know that when you say they can't have something you mean it and that they can't have everything they want all the time. Otherwise you'll have greedy, materialistic, spoilt children, which will probably mean you have to disown them George.

The problem is that if Galloway had researched this for, I don't know, eight seconds, he would know that cinemas hardly make any money off ticket sales. Hollywood charge up to 90% of the ticket price for distribution. Either Galloway expects them to run at a loss, or they have to make their money back elsewhere, i.e. on snacks and drinks which people purchase voluntarily. His suggestion that people sell popcorn out side the cinema for customers to take inside shows his complete lack of knowledge on the subject. If this happened, cinema ticket prices would shoot up, making the cinema less accessible for everyone.

The way I see cinema snacks is a bit like lottery tickets. When something's funded by the lottery it's great because it probably means money is going somewhere it wouldn't if left to the market, but it's also money people have given voluntarily. If people want to spend large amounts on cinema snacks and subsidize my cinema ticket as a result, great! It's a system that works for everyone.

Part of Galloway's problem may be that he thinks "they throw you out if you bring your own [food]". Not at any cinema I've ever been to. Some of them have policies against your own food, but they never enforce it. You know why? Because people will take their business elsewhere. Probably when Galloway tried to take his own food in he did it while shouting about food prices and claiming to be fighting against the fascistic confectionery purveyors. Plus they were probably looking for any excuse to get rid of him. "George Galloway's here? Shit. How do we get rid of him? Is he carrying drugs? Does he have recording equipment? Shit! I know, get him for the bourbons!" 

What I do when i go to the cinema is put my previously bought food in a non see through bag. Clever, right? Once you're in the cinema it's too dark for the gestapo to see what you're eating when they do their mid-film inspeation.  Galloway appears to think they search you on the way in like that annoying Orange ad. Just replace "phone" with "food" and you get the picture.

I don't like the price of cinema snacks, but there's a reason for it, and if George Galloway was actually serious about doing something about it he would be fighting the distribution costs of Hollywood studios, not the price of snacks. He needs to do some research, not table EDMs to make up for his parental failings.

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