TAMPA - Prime time movie ticket prices are on the rise with many theaters charging $10 to $11 for admission. But there is something subtle going on behind the counter that may persuade patrons to spend more than they had planned.
We visited four major movie theaters around the Tampa Bay area to check out their combo meals and concession pricing.
Muvico offers what most consumers expect from a combo, a package price. Their double up combo includes a best value popcorn and two best value drinks for $16 dollars. A la carte you'd pay 17.50.
Combo savings or not, Steve Gafford blames high-priced concessions for turning family night at the movies into a rare occasion.
And in Michigan, attorney Kerry Morgan is suing AMC on behalf of a movie patron who claims the prices the chain charges for its drinks and popcorn violate the state's consumer protection act.
At the Cobb Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel, the nacho combo which includes nachos and a large drink runs 11.75, just 15 cents less than if we ordered it a la carte. And their popcorn combo saves you just 5 cents. We asked Cobb about their combo pricing, but they refused to comment.
At AMC Westshore, the large drink, large popcorn combo runs $13.75 the exact amount you'd pay if you ordered the items separately. The same for the pizza combo, hot dog combo and nachos combo.
AMC did not respond to four messages left with the corporate office. We found more of the same at Regal Cinemas at Citrus Park. The two drinks, one popcorn combo costs $18.50. The same you'd pay if you ordered two medium drinks and one large popcorn.
When we asked Regal about their combo pricing, they responded in writing. "With the popular combinations placed into combos, it provides ease of ordering for the consumer and allows us to expedite the transaction faster."
While we can't change concession prices, there are ways to pay less for those snacks.
Kati Kiefer who created TrueCouponing.com advises liking your local theaters on Facebook, and they will like you back. Kiefer also visits Fandango.com for discounted tickets you buy in advance.
Other ideas, visit PlasticJungle.com and Cardpool.com to buy someone else's unwanted movie gift card for as much as 15 percent off face value.
Check to see if your credit card offers movie perks. The Visa Signature card rewards holders with movie discounts.
And if you are a regular at the movies, it more than pays you back to sign up for your local theater's loyalty card. It will cost you $10 or $12 dollars up front, but then you get rewards.