It had been a long time since I had been to the movies, so I was somewhat surprised when I went to Warrensburg's AMC Classic cinemas and saw AMC-branded candies alongside Junior Mints, Snow Caps, and the traditional big brands of candies that dominate the candy counter at movie theaters. AMC, it seems, wants to take a big bite out of its candy competitors; however, there's no guarantee it will work.

First, let's look at AMC and movie theaters in general. The pandemic wasn't kind to theaters. According to Variety, AMC Theatres lost $4.6 billion due to the pandemic. On top of that, as home theater equipment and big-screen TVs have become significantly more affordable, the viewing experience at home is way better than 20 years ago. On top of that, the costs. Movie tickets aren't cheap, so if you want to go to the candy counter, you're paying ridiculously high prices for soda, popcorn, and sweet treats.

I don't blame theaters for expensive concession prices; more to the point, I understand why concessions are expensive. Most of what you pay the theater for your ticket goes to the studios, not the exhibitor's bottom line. Where do theaters make their money? Concessions. That said, I wonder if theater chains made their concessions a little more affordable and if they could make up the difference in volume.

Of course, that assumes there is an audience to buy the concessions. One of the things I've noticed over the last several years is that as theater chains remodel auditoriums and essentially put in comfortable recliner seats with leg rests and creature comforts for moviegoers, the capacity of each auditorium is shrinking. If theaters are willing to shrink the number of seats they can put butts in, that tells me fewer people are choosing to go to the movies as often as they used to.

I haven't even mentioned that movie studios have shortened the window between exhibiting films in theaters and making them available through streaming services and cable. Sure, HBO's been around since 1972, but for much of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, if you wanted to see a movie, the way to see it when it came out was going to the movie theater. In the pre-VHS / DVD era, for many, if you missed it in theaters, you had to wait somewhere between several months to a year before it popped up on premium cable channels or network TV.

For example, Superman was released in theaters in December 1978 and made it to network television in February 1982. My point is that there was a motivation to see films you thought you'd like when they came out. These days, unless you're invested in a movie, there's not that urgency to see it because it'll be on Max or Netflix in what seems a matter of weeks and then filter down through various streaming services and cable networks.

What does all this have to do with movie candy? Fewer people are going to the movies, which means fewer concession sales and thinner bottom lines for movie theaters. Theater chain executives are trying to figure out how they can make more money off of fewer people going to the movies.

In AMC's case, they decided to enter the popcorn business. On March 11, 2023, AMC launched a retail popcorn line at Walmart that includes microwave and ready-to-eat popcorn. They also wanted to take a bite from the candy giants, so they rolled out a line of AMC Cinema Sweets in theaters. They're offering milk chocolate-covered pretzels with a dark chocolate drizzle, milk chocolate-covered almonds, milk chocolate-covered raisins, and milk chocolate-covered peanuts, with more offerings on the way.

Whether or not they'll take a bite out of sales of Snow Caps and Goobers remains to be seen. I thought AMC's own candy line might be priced a little cheaper than the name-brand stuff; however, AMC told Deadline that their prices are in line with other candy products.

Which brings me to this. The website Popverse wondered why you always see the same candy at movie theaters. Author Tiffany Babb posed that question to Jeff Peterson, senior customer manager at Mars Wrigley, who told her:

“What really works in the theater space is big brands. Moviegoing is a very habitual thing and ritualistic thing, and people really gravitate towards those brands that they grew up with, and for us, that’s M&Ms and Skittles. The same core brands have really performed in the theater speace for years. These aren’t our brands, but think of a brand like Raisinettes. Raisinettes is not a huge seller nationally, but sells pretty well in the theater space because ‘My grandpa took me to the theater, he always wanted to have Raisinettes.' It’s a very ritualistic experience. The same top items are the same top items."

That's not to say traditional candy sales aren't impacted by theaters offering fancy meal menus or nontraditional food offerings at theaters. Chris Ortino, president of AICP Corp, who is a broker between wholesalers and movie theater chains, told Popverse that, yes, as choices at the movie candy counter expand, the wallet share candy companies can pull out of theaters decreases. However, he also said that even with other offerings, 80% of sales at movie theaters are traditional candy, popcorn, and soda.

Whether moviegoers will pay the same price for AMC's branded chocolate candies when their favorite brand name candy is sitting next to them remains to be seen. However, I did add AMC's popcorn to my shopping list. It could be a winner if they've figured out how to make it taste as good at home as it does in the theater.

Keep scrolling to check out "Every Movie Theater Candy, Ranked."

Gallery — Every Movie Theater Candy, Ranked:

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