Leonard Cohen is seen here performing during a scene in the movie Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song. The documentary will screen at the Nelson Civic Theatre. Photo: Sony Pictures

Leonard Cohen is seen here performing during a scene in the movie Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song. The documentary will screen at the Nelson Civic Theatre. Photo: Sony Pictures

LARGE POPCORN, EXTRA BUTTER: How popcorn and the economy go hand-in-bag

Eleanor Stacey writes about The Odeon Popcorn Index

by Eleanor Stacey

I’ve recently become aware of a rather interesting metric: the Odeon Popcorn Index. Back in 2009, after the U.S. housing market spurred the Great Recession on a global scale, Odeon Cinemas CEO Rupert Gavin noticed something remarkable: in tracking popcorn sales each week at his theatres, he observed that not only did they correlate to the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) in London, but at times they even offered an indication of what was to come.

What was especially interesting here was that while cinema ticket sales have never been a good economic indicator (people readily indulge in inexpensive entertainment to escape economic despair), popcorn sales were in fact a pretty good one. In fact, between June and July 2009, U.K. popcorn sales held steady while the FTSE dropped, recovering later in July. At that same time in Spain unemployment levels were around 19 per cent and movie ticket sales continued to climb, while the popcorn sales didn’t. These and other like examples showed that popcorn sales have the ability to (possibly) predict future economic climates.

Fast forward to the present: the COVID-19 pandemic actually may have been the largest interruption to movie theatres ever — even during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 theatres in North America closed for two-to-six months; in B.C., we were either closed or greatly reduced in capacity for the better part of more than two years. And yes, there is a lot of conversation in our industry right now about film content — the fact that it’s late or poor quality or going to streaming or being held until another time in a coming year when it will do better in the box office, and so forth. But the continuing growth of streaming services aside, if we continue to believe that cinema will prove resilient, then perhaps we can turn to our popcorn sales to help us predict what will come next.

Even over these last few unprecedented years, the love people have for our popcorn at The Civic continues to give me hope. Do you remember when we were closed but still selling curbside popcorn? It was amazing to me that while our doors were shut people still got in their cars to indulge in the stuff. And today, we still see high per-customer levels of popcorn sales, and happy customers taking their bags to their seats to indulge in a film at The Civic or The Shoebox (and yes, we have popcorn there too!).

If you haven’t had a bag of Civic corn lately, perhaps it is time. But seeing as you can’t smell it as you read this, I’ll sweeten the pot a little: from Friday, Sept. 16 through Wednesday, Sept. 28 we would like to welcome everyone to Civic Theatre and Shoebox Theatre film presentations for an astounding price of $7 per ticket (the average ticket price in 2008, I might add!). This is our Tuesday night member rate, available for a short time to everyone.

In addition, if you become (or are already) a member by Sept. 28, we will enter you to win a pass for a year of films at The Civic Theatre! Members receive $2 off at the box office every time they see a film, earn points on every dollar they spend on tickets and concession, and have a vote at our AGM. In addition, we have some really great new benefits that will be announced soon (hint: a LOT of free movie watching!).

In short, it’s probably time you see a movie. Coming up: Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren star in The Duke, a charming tale about Kempton Bunton, a 60-year-old taxi driver who steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London in 1961.

And with his quiet charisma, Leonard Cohen will enchant you in Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, wherein the life of the singer-songwriter is explored through the prism of his formidable hymn, Hallelujah.

Clerks was certainly one of those little films that sent ripples through the 90’s independent film scene, when Kevin Smith decided to take his film school tuition to make a movie instead of going, and here we are in 2022, almost 30-years later for Clerks III, where we find Dante, Elias, and Jay and Silent Bob enlisted by Randal after a heart attack to make a movie about the convenience store that started it all.

And finally, we will take one last spin of family fun with Gru and the gang in Minions: The Rise of Gru.

Check civictheatre.ca for current listings, call some friends, and we’ll see you at the movies.

Eleanor Stacey is executive director of Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which operates The Civic Theatre and the new Shoebox Theatre at 225 Hall St.