To Buy the Bucket of Popcorn or Not?

One of the best parts about going to the movies is the irresistible and unmistakable smell of popcorn that immediately hits you the moment you walk from outside the parking lot and into the lobby of the movie theater. That special smell gets me every single time as I always end up purchasing a bag/tub at the concession stand. It doesn’t matter if I am stuffed, I still fork over the money to eat popcorn at the movie theater every single time.

My local theater in Missoula is owned by Carmike Cinemas. This particular movie theater chain has a promotion where they sell giant buckets of popcorn that are re-useable for the full calendar year. You simply pay the price for the tub and then you are welcome to bring it back throughout the year to get refills at a discounted price each time you go to watch a movie. For someone like me, most people would say that I should definitely cash in on the deal. Even though it does make sense over the long run, the initial price turns me off.

I LOVE movie theater popcorn....not so much the microwave version though.

I LOVE movie theater popcorn….not so much the microwave version though.

Okay, ready for the price of one of these calorie-loaded, year-long bottomless popcorn tubs? Try $19.75. Want a refill on that tub? For the rest of the year you will just have to pay $3.75.

While I do thank Carmike Cinemas for saving us a quarter and saving us the shame of spending 20 bucks on popcorn, the $19.75 price tag does make me a little squeamish. Not that I haven’t squandered larger loads of money on even stupider things during my twenties but I think the fact that most times when I am tempted by the deal I am reminded that I just paid $20+ for movie tickets  and the notion of equaling that price in popcorn makes me decide against it. However, I am starting to have second thoughts.

On Friday night I went to “Lone Survivor”. While in line to get my traditional bag of popcorn I couldn’t help but notice that everyone else in line with me seemed to have the 2014 refillable buckets. I guess I had not realized the popularity of them until that night. I mean really, how could all those people be wrong? I bought a large popcorn and a soda and it come to somewhere over $14. Instead of getting my popcorn fix just for the movie that night I could have paid five dollars more (without purchasing the soda) and set myself up for discounted popcorn throughout the rest of 2014. If it was an ordinary movie I would have thought about my decision throughout the whole two hours but since “Lone Survivor” blew my socks off I forgot about it until after I walked out of the theater.

Not to be lost in this all is that it is still mid-January. If I pull the trigger and purchase the bucket now I will enjoy the benefit of $3.75 buckets of popcorn for pretty much the maximum time possible. I do plan to see a lot of movies this year.

“JUST BUY THE STUPID BUCKET!,” many of you might be yelling right now.

Well, I have concerns against it as well. Just because I can purchase something that will probably give me more for less in the long run it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the way to go. Do I really need to enjoy the largest bucket of popcorn possible at each movie I go to? At some point I should respect my body and cholesterol level. Also, living in an apartment, space is somewhat limited and I don’t know if I want to store it in one of my cupboards. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of fresh popcorn at the movie theater but I am not as enthusiastic about a cupboard smelling like the waiting room of a tire shop. Finally, if I can’t glue my fingers to the handle, chances are that I might forget my $19.75 bucket a time or two when I dash off to watch the latest blockbuster.

I know I am going against every journalistic principle by not taking a stand on what I am going to do but my personal jury is still out on whether I will buy the bucket or not. I will say that if forced to give a prediction, I think I will end up giving in sometime this month and purchasing it. But, if for some reason I am kept away from the theater for the rest of January I might just pass on it. One thing is for sure, you know I will keep you posted. Don’t Blink.

10 thoughts on “To Buy the Bucket of Popcorn or Not?

  1. Just wanted to let you know that we used to have a Carmike here in Richmond, Va which my family & I went to all the time. Unfortunately, it was recently purchased by Cinebistro. The buckets cost about 17.95 here even though it said 19.95, the refills which for 2012 & 2013 were advertised at the 3.75 for the regular popcorn & 4.75 for the premium flavored popcorn they actually only charged $1.00 & $2.00. Not only that, but you could also use the popcorn bucket from the year before. This year, the cost for the bucket was the same, but for a lid you had to pay an extra $1.00. Refills also went up $1.00, so it was $2.00 for regular popcorn & $4.00 for the premium. My wife loves the caramel popcorn so we usually bought 1 bucket of that, & 2 buckets of the regular one of which with the extra butter for the kids. The best part about these buckets was that you could use them regardless of whether you were going to go see a movie or not. A lot of times we would go up there, buy the buckets, & let our 3 kids snack on them after school for the rest of the week. They really are an awesome deal. I’m just sad that we are losing the Carmike in our area leaving us with just Regal & the more expensive Cinebistro.

    • Jim – Thanks for the note. I love the fact that you would refill the buckets even when you weren’t going to the movies. I have never been to a Cinebistro theater before. Why do they charge more? Do they do something extra or offer anything different?

  2. I too resisted buying the bucket. $19.75!! Whew!! However, I broke down and bought one and I am sooo glad I did. It has already saved me a bunch of money. And then since I always have way too much popcorn to eat during the movie, I get to take the rest home and munch on movie theatre popcorn while watching tv. It is absolutely wonderful!!! So, come 2015, I will definitely be getting the bucket again. And there’s one added benefit–I love loooooots of butter in my popcorn and before the bucket, I would have so much butter that the bag would leak and would always stain my clothes, but not no more!! The beauty of plastic!! So, needless to say……I recommend that you buy da bucket!!

    • Very convincing argument, Cheryl! I think I will wait until 2015 and then strongly consider it. The only thing now is that I live in a different state and while there is a Carmike Theater here, it is not the theater I frequent the most. Thank you for commenting!

  3. The best part about the bucket if you get the lid is that you can use it to sneak other stuff in the next time you go!

  4. So did you ever buy the bucket? We bought one in 2014 and traded it in for a 2015. We haven’t been to a movie yet in 2016, so I don’t know if they’ll let us trade it in now. We may have to buy a new one which cost more than trading the last year in on a new year. As a family we share the bucket. I’m sure we will buy a new one if we can’t trade the old one in. Buying popcorn for a snack or for TV watching without seeing a movie is a good idea. Happy movie viewing in 2016!

    • I can’t say that I ever bit the bullet and bought the bucket! It will be real interesting to see if the bucket promotion sticks around now that Carmike has been bought out.

  5. Pingback: Making the Big Popcorn Purchase | Don't Blink

  6. Here it is 2019 and we bought the bucket and also the AMC A Plus pass. 3 movies every week for only 19.99 a month. Refil on the bucket is now 4.50 however any refil on the same day is free after the first. So if you plan on spending the day watching 3 movies the popcorn is your dinner!

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