Going to the movies is right up there in the Personal Finance taboo list with Mocha Frappucchinos, credit card debt and buying new cars. Heck, full price tickets now run you $10 at most major theaters, and you'll drop that much or more at the concession stand.
My fiancee and I hardly go out to the movies anymore, partly because the cost is prohibitive compared to waiting a few months for picking it up at Hollywood Video. Also, the quality of the movies rarely justifies the cost of going to the theater.
This weekend, however, we were in San Diego visiting a friend who wanted to see X-Men 3. The best way to defray the cost of the movie is to see a matineee, but we were already too late for that. So, full price, $10 per person it was. Second, if munchies are a must have part of your movie-going experience, you should always bring your own snacks. But, we wanted popcorn. And there is no graceful way to sneak popcorn into the movies, especially in the warm weather of Southern California in June. We actually came up with a pretty good solution, that may be on the fringes of ethical, but sure worked.
AMC theaters offer free refills on all large popcorns and large sodas. So, between the three of us, we ordered one large popcorn and one large coke. We asked for a cardboard container to carry the popcorn and drinks, and also two waters. The total cost was $9.50.
We walked over to the butter station and dumped the entirety of the popcorn into the cardboard case, and dumped the two waters into the adjacent drinking fountains. Our buddy walked over and got the popcorn refill before we even stepped foot in the theater. After we sat down we filled the water cups out of the large coke (which is the size of a ewer anyway!), and took the third full coke for a refill just before the move began.
So, three of us essentially shared two large cokes and popcorns for less than ten bucks! I know, for the same ten bucks at the store we could have gotten enough popcorn kernels to pop gallons of popcorn, and a six pack of cokes to wash it down. But to get that at the theater is still pretty sweet. And, ethically, did we do wrong? Trust me, I won't lose a moment of sleep over it.