While candies and sweets feed the coffers of cinemas, the association takes up the nutritional and ecological question by asking exhibitors to think about their food offer.
One of the measures that irritated cinema operators the most during the Covid crisis was the temporary ban on the sale of confectionery after the second confinement. Cinemas have seen the evaporation of a significant resource: in 2020, this item exceeded advertising revenue (14.9% against 9.4%) in the turnover of the major circuits (Pathé, UGC, CGR ). For this corporation, providing popcorn has become as important as feeding viewers images. To the chagrin of moviegoers allergic to mouth noises but also for opponents of junk food.
Distributor (Haut et court) and owner of theaters (Le Louxor in Paris, le Sémaphore in Nîmes), Carole Scotta is one of them. To try to remedy this, she founded the association Eat better at the cinema. “This project was born out of an environmentalist approach: eating in theaters has become a habit for the public, so the problem is no longer there, but in what we eat there. And even more when children who go to the cinema for the first time associate the pleasure of this outing with that of sugar and junk food. Not to mention a fact: confectionery in theaters represents 25% of the carbon footprint of French cultural establishments. »
“If we compare the craftsmanship of cinema to that of market gardeners, it is the same relationship to the product, to the concrete, to the love for one’s profession.”
The association therefore offers theaters the opportunity to complete the film menu by focusing on the food offer, from a nutritional and ecological point of view, in particular through a competition highlighting innovative techniques or products. Not enough to impose a truce for confectioners between the independent sector and the circuits arguing for a juicy market until the last crumb. “Obviously we have no immediate ambition to convince multiplexes to give up their expensive margin on popcorn, says Carole Scotta. This association is therefore primarily aimed at independent cinemas but also at representatives of local food. The vocation is not to become a commercial actor but to put them in contact with suppliers. If we compare the craftsmanship of cinema to that of market gardeners, it is the same relationship to the product, to the concrete, to the love for one’s profession. From there, it shocks me that art houses only sell sodas as drinks. There comes a time when you have to be more consistent. »
The most recent attempts in this area (truffle popcorn in the defunct EuropaCorp Aéroville multiplex, chairside service at the Pathé Beaugrenelle, etc.) have above all been an opportunity for these rooms to stuff the range of additional ticket prices. of entry. Why would it be any different for independent cinemas offering organic Sichuan pepper popcorn? “I hope that the theaters concerned will not see this operation with the idea of making an additional margin but rather of offering better food to their spectators. In addition, it must also be understood that there is a young public who want to have fun while watching what they eat. So it’s also a way to make him want to come back to theaters. Today, it no longer involves technical innovations that have become a headlong rush. It’s not going from 4K to 8K projection that will make people move, but these types of initiatives. »
This could allow industrial food brands, such as circuits, to restore their image while resorting to “greenwashing”. “On the brands side, they did not show up. As far as theaters are concerned, if one day Pathé or CGR join the project, I’ll be super happy, it will mean that the idea is acquired. But in any case, the balance of power is abnormal and does not only depend on the question of a healthier diet. Why, for example, is it in the circuits, which project many more pubs than the independent rooms, that the confectionery and the tickets are the most expensive? This is also where we need to start a change…”
THE WINNERS MENU
The prizes for the Eat Better at the Movies competition were revealed on Tuesday, May 3. The jury, which brought together former candidates from Top chef, culinary journalists, designers, operators, nutritionists and strategy consultants were rewarded with enough to make up a tasty and responsible pre-screening menu: popcorn with cider vinegar and seaweed, onigiris – a classic of Japanese street food, rice-based – chocolate puffs, blackcurrant detox infusion, malt ice cream and biscuits made by disabled people shared the prize list.
The winning products will be presented during the next AFCAE (French Association of Arthouse Cinemas) days before being offered to theaters that join in September. Supported by the CNC, as part of its three-year plan around ecological transition, the association Mieux manger au cinema will develop its activities in 2022, extending them to other cultural venues, in particular festivals.