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V for Vendetta: A story of dinner and a movie

March 26th, 2006 · No Comments

To quote the official website, “If you’ve seen V FOR VENDETTA you already know there are some mighty big explosions.” Well, they were right – it sure was a bomb.

I enjoyed V for Vendetta because of the plot, the acting, the cinematography, and the sweet explosions and fight scenes. What I got incredibly annoyed with was the theater itself, and second to that, the presentation of the politics. My father describes me as a bleeding heart liberal, but even so, I found it difficult to stomach the obvious allegorical associations between the “future Britain” and the United States. I remember paying to see the Matrix in 1999. I also paid to see Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, which I later regretted (admittedly, I enjoyed Reloaded but only because I was expecting an exciting conclusion that simply never came).

For some reason, I paid to see V for Vendetta, too. I don’t like to go to the theaters, but every time I do I remember immediately why I just stay home instead. My friend Raul and I were meeting a group of other people in the theater. When we got to the box office at the 18-screen theater in the Crossgates Mall, we both paid for our tickets, totaling $19.00 (2 tickets x $9.50 each). Getting popcorn and drinks was the next task.

Mounted prominently behind the concession stand counter was a large menu displaying various “value combo” deals. A #1 combo appeared to be just what we might need – two medium drinks and a large popcorn. However, when the cashier told us the total was $15.50 for the “value” combo, I asked her instead to sell us a single large soda and large popcorn, which cost a ‘mere’ $10.50. For those keeping track, that’s a total of $29.50. However Hoyt’s Crossgates truly landed a kick to the nuts when we actually went into the theater and the woman at the turnstile told us there were free refills on both the popcorn and the soda!

This fact was not made evident while we were actually purchasing the concessions, and obviously that is because if that fact was made clear, I’d have purchased a “kids” size soda and popcorn, and failing that if the concessions people deny me based on my age, I’d have purchased a “small” size soda and popcorn. Even if I had, I’m sure the total for those two items would be at least $6.00.

What bothers me most about that is that the popcorn and soda both cost pennies on my dollar to produce. For those keeping track, the usual profit margin on an active soda fountain is in excess of 90%. This is one reason “value meals” are so profitable to offer – they ensure that selling items with smaller profit margins is offset by selling items with larger profit margins alongside those less profitable items. I fail to see how two drinks and a popcorn can be worth $15.50, even if they sell me a whole gallon of popcorn.

Which brings me to my next point – how much popcorn and soda do they sell you in the first place? I brought the containers home to find out. I still had half a tub of popcorn, so I dumped it onto some asphalt and waited to see how long it would take the birds to eat it. I was disappointed to find however that the popcorn mostly blew away in the wind and was trampled by passing vehicles and pedestrians before the birds could take it all away, thus invalidating the experiment. I still had the empty containers, so I decided to just measure those instead.

I first measured the soda cup using volumetric analysis. Using a large measuring container, I filled the cup to about 1mm below the rim using 1.5L of water. Therefore the assumed realistic volume of the cup is about 1.5L.

Measuring the popcorn tub would be more difficult, however, since the container was designed to retain popcorn, not water. I decided instead to measure the tub and calculate the volume using the formula for a Frustum, which by the way is a hysterical word. The dimensions of the popcorn tub were as follows:

Height: 7 7/8″
Bottom diameter: 6 3/8″
Top diameter: 8″

This then, using A=(pi)*r^2 implies the surface area of the top and bottom planes are:

Bottom area: 31.9″ square
Top area: 50.27″ square

Therefore, using the formula:

We can arrive at a calculated volume of about 320.8 cubic inches. This is equal to about 5.25 liters, or 1.39 gallons. I can just imagine some executive with the theater company making a presentation on earnings and profits, and saying, “Ladies and Gentleman, fellow board members, since 2000, our industry has experienced a significant downturn in revenues and overall attendance.” Then I imagine another executive, the CEO, saying, “Well, Johnson, what do you recommend we do to boost our income?” Then that other executive says, “Well, we could increase the size of our popcorn tubs again, and raise the price correspondingly.” The CEO then lights up in excitement, “Johnson! You’re a genious! Alright folks, you heard the man, lets get on this ‘bigger bucket’ thing.” The recording industries complain a lot about declining revenues and profits, and lately have turned to blaming piracy for this. I’m sure somewhere deep inside they know it might be because they charge an arm and a leg for a night at the movies.

How anyone could justify purchasing almost a gallon and a half of popcorn is beyond me. I would suspect most other people that buy the large are only doing so because they don’t realize there are free refills (as I did not realize).

Maybe part of the reason I don’t like going to the theaters is because I’m cheap. Maybe it’s because I own a projector and a 42″ plasma screen. I’m even willing to believe it may be because I’m just a sourpuss. But it might also just have something to do with the fact that I almost had to spend $35 to see a movie somewhere other than home. Considering that federal minimum wage is only $5.15 an hour, I fail to see how a single motion picture experience can equal roughly seven hours of work.

Maria, Will, and Niclole demonstrate the emotions of the M and Ms on the popcorn tub
Maria, Will, and Niclole demonstrate the emotions of the M and Ms on the popcorn tub

Detail of the 1.5 liter soda cup and 5.25 liter popcorn tub
Detail of the 1.5 liter soda cup and 5.25 liter popcorn tub

Tags: My Thoughts

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