Warning: if you watch this video you are about to be seriously earwormed. This song isn’t leaving your head for at least a week.
There is in fact a very good reason I have posted the Minors of the ABC sing song for your annoyance. This is ode to my pa who sang this to me many times in my youth whilst waffling on about how he and many other youngsters would queue up on a Saturday morning at the Associated British Cinema back in the good old days of the 60s where they would watch cartoons and cowboy films whilst singing and playing the odd game when the film broke down.
But my dad’s favourite memory of the cinema… the interlude, where children would attack the usherette en masse for a weekly treat of ice cream.
It makes me wonder, are food and film are embroiled with nostalgia which seriously affect our decision making when we visit the flicks? Like my dad with his memories of ice cream, I myself feel there is something really quite comforting and almost necessary about watching a film at the cinema with a bucket of popcorn even if I have just polished off an entire roast dinner. Somehow I will fit the entire bag without even realising it. But you probably wouldn’t do this any other time, would you? Maybe you’re not a popcorn man and prefer instead a bag of pick and mix or a soggy box of nachos covered in a layer of fake glue like cheese. Whatever tickles your fancy, honestly, tell me… how many of you have gone to watch a film with no food or drink whatsoever? Exactly, food and film most definitely go together.
There’s an old adage in the film industry that the cinema business can be described as “Renting seats and selling sugar”. I had been under the impression, as had the Mrs (and therefore I suspect many other out there also believe this to be true); that cinemas earn very little from ticket sales themselves and mainly make their income from the sales of food and drink in the foyer. I actually felt some sympathy for the poor little mites and I feel like Robin Hood as I fork out nearly a tenner for my popcorn and large drink. Supporting the arts and all that.
Actually, a little bit of research shows that the cinema pays an average of about 50-55% of its ticket sales to the film studio, as film rental fees. The costs actually starts higher and decreases as the duration of a film's showing continues, as an incentive to keep the film running longer. They are still making nearly half the profit from the film. Suddenly, I am less sympathetic.
Cinemas can keep 100% of the profits from the sales of food and drink. Some research done by the BBC revealed a ball breaking 370 to 1500% mark up on a leading cinema chain’s popcorn sales. Add to that that all that salt of course encourages the sales of super sized drinks; essentially syrup and water increasing profits even further. Funnily enough, I already knew this from younger days playing Theme Park on my Play Station 1 where you could increase the salts and syrups on concession stands to increase your own profits. Good old Sony gearing young minds for the politics of life…
WHO REMEMBERS THIS???
Then let’s talk CALORIES. Traditional cinemas do not offer massive amounts of food choices and in the main consists of popcorn, nachos and hot dogs. Apart from the obvious appeal of these highly salted and fat filled treats, you will sit for two hours without movement being completely unconscious to the amount you are shovelling in your gob. If you think you are going for the “lighter” option of popcorn then you’re mistaken. A large popcorn at my local chain come in at a bypass enduring 1000 calories a bag! At to that an extra large Tango Blast to the mix and we’re nearly at 1300 calories.
But let’s not be all doom and gloom about cinema food. Everything is good in moderation after all. And in addition it appears that there are some cinemas out there who have absolutely smashed it with their culinary offerings. Take for example Everyman Cinema. The revolution? Not only does their menu extend to sharing plates consisting of hummus flatbreads, padron peppers and olives to name a few, but these fucking geniuses will even deliver it to your seat!
Fancy it? You can find your closest Everyman Cinema right here.
Then there is the electric cinema located in Portabello Road and one of the oldest cinemas in London which first opened it's doors in 1910. They offer a 50% discount on food at the adjacent Electric Diner between 5 and 6pm on the same day purchase of a cinema ticket. Apart from having an awesome 1950s diner vibe, they offer delights such as lamb spare ribs, chicken and waffles and rib eye steaks. I will definitely be taking the Mrs for a date night. I’ll even suffer through a chick flick.
You can check out the Electric Diner menu for yourself right here.
And the future of cinema food? Although you just can’t beat watching a film on the big screen, undoubtedly with the ever progressing world of online film streaming the cinema industry is going to pull a rabbit out of the hat just to keep up. Welcome, Edible Cinema.
In his Mission Impossible TV in 2011 Heston Blumenthal challenged the restaurant food norm by creating a menu which matched the senses of taste to site experience for a screening of the film Perfume. During the episode cinema patrons were treated to a fermented fish paste, rice pudding and an “edible sperm shake” during key moments of the film to evoke taste sensations.
You can watch the episode below, skip through to minute 22 if you want to watch the viewers reactions!
Whilst this sounds absolutely off the wall as many of Heston’s TV programmes are, there is in fact a far tamer and more consumer friendly version of this experience, the Edible Cinema who supply each guest with a tray of 8 numbered mystery boxes containing a bite-sized tasting menu tailored to specific moments in the film. The Curzon Cinema in Mayfair are offering tickets to see True Romance on Valentines Day, although the food offerings are kept strictly secret! To book your tickets visit the Curzon website here.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX???
I hope you have enjoyed our post today on film and food and as usual we love to hear your feedback. And make sure you check out the popcorn recipes below for your very own movie night with a Meat Shack Twist.
Also, as an avid lover of film, I’ve started my very own podcast with pal, Scott Duckett of www.scottduckett.com called “SHACK OF GEEKS”. Its no secret that I am a massive geek and love everything Marvel & DC. I mean I once built a Bat Cave from shoe boxes that took up half of my bedroom. I was 22 at the time. So if you want to hear why I think Keanu Reeves would make a good batman or what dream duo Scott would like to see on the silver screen. Then check out our first episode "Year One" and if you get the reference than this podcast is for you.