Strong sales largely rely on balancing price, profits and demand. Make something too cheap and your revenue will be high (if demand is also high), but you won’t make much profit. Make something too expensive and your profit-per-unit could be high, but you also risk killing demand.

It’s with this thought in mind that I wonder why Vue Cinemas prices food and drink the way it does. It’s not the only chain guilty of gouging a captive audience, but it’s shocking how far the company has gone in recent years. In my local cinema, the ‘value’ meal that comprises a regular popcorn and drink now costs an astonishing eight pounds (roughly the cost of an adult ticket). The chain, naturally, provides a bucket of each product, in order to try and give you the perception of value (i.e. “Wow, that was expensive, but they sure give you a lot!”), but I wonder if people are starting to see through the bullshit.

Of late, it’s increasingly common to see entire audiences without any refreshments at all, bar the odd bottle of overpriced water. It’s clear that the modern cinema is pricing itself out of its own captive market. Additionally, people are being increasingly careful about diet, and so “enough Coke to drown in” doesn’t look as appealing as it perhaps once did.

One curiosity at Vue, though, is its kiddy combo (first noticed by Mrs. G). You get a smallish drink, a smallish amount of popcorn and a candy of some kind. On closer inspection, the amount of popcorn you get still exceeds what you’d find in three small bags in a supermarket multipack, and the candy is typically a ‘fun size’ Milky Way. The cost, though, is—relatively speaking—not too bad: under three quid. What I wonder is why Vue and other chains aren’t recognising that adults en masse would almost certainly buy more smaller portions if they were offered and available for a reasonable price, and the subsequent increase in sales would offset people avoiding the ridiculous ‘value’ meals currently sold.

In the meantime, I’ll continue buying the odd kiddie combo. I don’t have a kid myself, but it’s the only option that’s not totally taking the piss from a pricing standpoint and that isn’t akin to snarfing down enough salt to kill a movie-monster slug and enough sugar to make your teeth explode.