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Movie Theaters Compete With Restaurants by Increasing Food Quality

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Trade in popcorn for a full meal

Recreational outlets from movie theaters to bowling alleys are moving into restaurant territory by increasing food and snack quality, thereby increasing customer traffic and sales in the process.

The latest data from the NPD Group Supply Track, a company that tracks products from foodservice distributors to operators, saw that sales grew to $91 billion, a large part of which came from recreational business such as movie theaters. Revenue increased by just over 1 percent in 2016, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Recreation businesses, including movie theaters, amusement parks, cruise lines, and bowling alleys, had the highest percentage increase.

“It shows that there are emerging trends and new and unique places for consumers to go,” Ann Roberts, vice president for NPD Group Supply Track, told NRN. “It does impact the restaurant industry.”

Movie theaters have increased spending on food services by 20 percent to expand menu options beyond soda and popcorn and provide an almost full-service dining experience with alcoholic beverages included.

NPD data shows that consumers are spending less on products and more on experiences, which explains the 8-percent increase in movie theater visits in 2016, NRN reported.

One movie theater chain, AMC Theatres, provides customers with a Dine-in Theatre menu that includes a The Royal (a fully loaded beef burger), Southern-Style Chicken Tenders (made with hand-battered chicken tenders and ranch and honey dipping sauce), and a Chicken Quinoa Bowl.

“We view our theaters as places that are over the top, and we want the food to be the same way,” Jennifer Douglass, AMC vice president of dine-in operations, told NRN.

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