In Austin, Texas, moviegoers that want to chow down during their film can go to the multiple Alamo Drafthouses located in and outside the city. In the theaters, every other row is replaced with a long table, accompanied by a menu and pen and paper. Waiters come around and take the slips customers have written their order on and deliver the food before the film starts. While this is what makes the movie theater unique, other theaters around the country are adopting this idea.
An article in the Wall Street Journal explained, “dine-in cinemas” have been a growing trend now that most theaters make more money off of their food, not the screening itself.
“Most traditional theaters, their per-head expenditure on concessions is anywhere from $3 to $6. With us, it’s over $18,” Fred Schoenfeld, the owner of Art Deco Commodore Theatre, told the Journal.
Theaters are also playing this up. The Alamo Drafthouse offered Indian food during the screenings of “Slumdog Millionaire.” The Drafthouse in particular is planning on expanding its 11 theaters to 18 this year. This could, however, go either way.
“Servers felt odd delivering Tater Tots during the waterboarding scene [of Zero Dark Thirty],” Matthew Viragh, the founder of Nitehawk, a dine-in cinema in Brooklyn, told the news source.
Of course, this idea of having full meals and alcohol during a movie doesn’t need to stay in an indoor theater. Outdoor movie screenings at a festival in Saranac Lake, New York, included hot chocolate and s’mores for those that braved the cold for the viewings.
For other outdoor movie organizers, offering food and drinks in addition to a film can encourage viewers to attend, as well as enhance a movie, like the Alamo Drafthouse found.