Ask Cinema Blend: Is It Okay To Smuggle Outside Food And Drink Into A Theater?

Every Friday, Cinema Blend answers one reader question. Last week, we tackled the always contentious issue of resting your feet on the chair in front of you, and this week, we’re plowing forward with an equally divisive topic. If you have a question related to movies, whether it be theater etiquette or about one or more completed films, fire off an email to for consideration in future editions of Ask CB.

Is It Okay To Smuggle Outside Food And Drinks Into A Theater?

Melanie from Maple Grove, Minnesota

Over the last several years, many theaters, especially in large cities, have made huge improvements in the way of food. Offering all beef hotdogs, a wider selection of candy and nachos that are actually edible, they’ve gone from establishments no sensible human being would ever order anything but popcorn at to eating options that are an improvement over being hungry. Even with all of those big steps forward, however, there are plenty of people who still prefer to bypass the rules and smuggle in their own food and beverages. So, where does Cinema Blend stand on the issue?

Well, we’re not opposed to smuggling in food or drinks, in theory, but only if it follows a very strict set of codes. Check out this list of questions below…

#1) Does the food or drink give off an excessive odor?

#2) Does the food or drink create a lot of noise while being consumed?

#3) Is it difficult to consume the food using just the hands?

#4) Is the food hot?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you should not be smuggling it into a theater, and doing so is either a direct slap in the face to the theater itself or all of the people you’re sitting around. Once the lights go down, your job as theatergoer is to completely blend in and not cause any distractions to those around you. That involves a) not talking, b) not kicking seats, c) turning your cell phone off and d) not shooting smelly wafts of KFC at everyone in a three row radius.

The name of the game is discretion, and if you can’t consume whatever it is you’ve brought without someone that’s not sitting directly next to you noticing, just don’t do it. Go to McDonald’s after your showing, or, if you’re so damn hungry, leave for the film early and stop on the way. It’s really not that hard, and it’s the difference between being a colossal dick and being a kind-hearted moviegoer.

Now, I’m pretty sure all of the above rules should have been pretty damn obvious to anyone who doesn’t suck at life, but I’m going to add one more to the pile that might be a little more contentious.

#5) Is the food or drink sold by the theater you’re attending?

Look: no one wants to pay $4.00 for a small Diet Coke or $3.75 for a BunchACrunch, but if you can purchase whatever it is you’d like to smuggle in, I think you have an obligation to buy it from the theater. The business needs to turn a profit just like any other, and if it adds an extra few bucks to the price of your evening out, so be it. Suck it up and just buy it there.

If, however, you’re a Mountain Dew obsessive and the theater only offers Mellow Yellow, which you’d never buy anyway, I’m fine with sliding that deliciousness in your pants. If you’re a health food nut and want to have a granola bar to munch on instead of all the high-in-everything options the theater has? Get ballsy and throw it in your purse. If you like having a little something to munch on, and your chosen little something isn’t available, Cinema Blend sure as hell won’t tell on you. As for the asshole going to town on his third Grilled Chicken Go Wrap from Wendy’s, however, we make no promises about not shooting him death looks and certainly will not be defending him if he’s caught by an usher.

Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.