Surprise Cash Cow for Movie Theaters: Popcorn Holders

Collectibles are proving to be a serious source of revenue, the Hollywood Reporter explains
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2024 4:50 PM CST
Surprise Cash Cow for Movie Theaters: Popcorn Holders
Collectible popcorn containers are a new moneymaker at the movies.   (Getty / gojak)

As movie theaters rebound from the pandemic, a new source of revenue has come in at the concession stand that has nothing to do with Milk Duds or nachos. Limited edition popcorn holders—called "vessels" in the industry—are bringing in major cash, according to the Hollywood Reporter. These containers run from $25 to $50, and are designed to serve as a memento for fans. The trend started in 2019 when AMC partnered with Disney during the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. They offered moviegoers a limited run of a fun R2-D2 popcorn and drink holder. Despite a $49.99 price tag, the containers sold out quicker than lightspeed.

The success has driven AMC to find opportunities to create special containers for movies with built-in followings, like Mean Girls, Dune, and Wonka. Also of note: 25,000 pink convertible vessels created for Barbie priced at $34.99 sold out during the film's opening weekend. Other chains are paying attention. Collider reports that Cinemark released an exclusive (and creepy) Jigsaw popcorn and drink containers, complete with glowing red eyes, for the release of Saw X.

While a lot goes into the design of these containers to please fans, some of the vessels' virality is quite unintended—and can bring in unexpected press. The internet had a field day over Dune 2's popcorn bucket design, likening the film's Shai-Hulud sandworm shape to an adult toy, per Movieweb. That prompted SNL to get in on the fun with a musical number. "The SNL sketch was a pleasant surprise," an insider tells the Hollywood Reporter. "That was not something that was pitched as a moment for the movie." (More movie theaters stories.)

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