13 Jun 2015

Steve Landsburg Has Still Got It

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In the last two weeks I have met two young’ins who volunteered to me that they are reading Landsburg’s The Armchair Economist. Ah, I fondly remember when I had just graduated from college and read Steve’s book. Not many people know why movie theaters charge so much for popcorn, but those two young’ins soon will.

8 Responses to “Steve Landsburg Has Still Got It”

  1. E. Harding says:

    “Not many people know why movie theaters charge so much for popcorn”
    -To make more money?

  2. Tel says:

    There’s a movie theatre I go to on occasion that has a bar and sells alcohol. The same building also has a bar in the basement that isn’t a movie theatre, it’s just a bar, and (you could probably guess) the basement prices are significantly cheaper.

    Last time I had a beer at the movie theatre bar, while waiting for my movie, I noticed I was the only one drinking, and the single barmaid (who was running the whole bar) was so bored she almost nodded off. I only bought two beers that night and I don’t go there often. Unless there were some excellent parties that I missed out on, that movie theatre bar doesn’t break even.

  3. David Friedman says:

    I’m not sure anyone *knows* why movie theaters charge so much for popcorn. There is a plausible economic explanation, which appears in my _Price Theory_ and, I presume, in Steve’s book. In Chapter 10 of _Price Theory_, I sketched a way in which one could test that explanation against an alternative one.

    • guest says:

      Your father once posited that it was because Michael Moore keeps depleting the supply.

    • Max says:

      Price discrimination is probably the answer, as you say, but you suggest in the book that some movie theaters may have a monopoly, ignoring the more significant source of monopoly power: copyright. The theaters are price discriminating primarily for the benefit of the copyright holders, not for themselves.

      • guest says:

        I would think that, as well as the movies are shown in certain theaters first.

        The cheaper theaters (with cheaper popcorn) get the movies later.

  4. emerich says:

    Landsburg’s book is great, and sui generis, but one of the few questions that he left up in the air was the popcorn-in-theaters question! None of the possibilities he explored gave a satisfactory answer. At least, that was his conclusion.

  5. Andrew_FL says:

    Isn’t it the same reason theme parks charge more soda and bottle water? For concessions in general actually.

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