Cinemas and food purchased externally

For whatever reason, I’ve had a long held belief that Cinemas in general were allowed to charge ridiculous prices for their food and drink because, by agreement with some entity/authority, they were not allowed to prohibit patrons from attending with their own food and drinks (Except for hot products as these warranted an OH&S risk).

With many cinemas occupying space in shopping centres it’s been a convenience for my family and I beforehand to go to the local Woollies and get some snacks for the movie. I’ve personally never been hassled about this but I’ve heard stories from those that have.

Last night I booked some online tickets from Event Cinemas for an outing on Saturday and I’ve noticed for the first time a very clear line on the booking confirmation that says;

“Please Note: No external food or drink items are alowed in our cinemas. Consumption prior to entry is required.”

I’m wondering if my beliefs were erroneous or if there is truly a right of the business to prohibit entry to patrons carrying externally purchased food and drink. Now as it happens, one of my guests on Saturday is a severely disabled young man who can only drink water from a special water bottle. It would be a very brave teenager indeed who would dare suggest he couldn’t bring his water bottle in with him but I wonder if they legitimately can prohibit entry to others ?


Personally my local cinema seems to just have the rule up for use at their own discretion. They’ve never bothered me when I’ve brought in water or a small snack with me. I always buy some popcorn or something if I do that cause I do understand they have to make money. I’m guessing they’d enforce it if I came up with a huge bag of food and bought nothing there.


As for whether they can legitimately prohibit entry, it’s private property and they can decide what items are allowed in, subject to anti-discrimination laws.


That’s fine, except we have allergies and intolerances and they don’t sell stuff we can safely have! Having said that, we have never had a problem bringing our own drink in.


They can impose such conditions as part of the conditions of sale…no different to say conditions on change of mind purchases or say patron responsible for any damage they cause.

I suspect that most cinemas will use some level of discretion…if one decides to discretely take in say a packet of crisps or sweets, it is unlikely to be an issue…but if one decided to take in a restaurant takeaway or a fast food meal they might get agitated as not only are there risks of the food spills spoiling their cinema, other patrons would be subject to food smells as well.

If there is a special needs, such as having special drink dispensers for a disability, it would be very brave for a cinema (or any other retailer etc) to prevent the use of such devices as it could border on discrimination, especially if the cinema can’t provide the same/similar devices for their patrons.

Food allergies would be the same as that for s specialised drink dispenser, however, I suspect that they could chose to refuse such foods entry as one could easily consume prior to entry (it is not imperative or a life/death issue which would warrant such food being excused).

Health conditions would also fall into the disability category…for example, taking sugar tablets/sweets to manage blood glucose levels. I suggest a s small bag/number fo sweets to prevent a health condition wouldn’t be an issue, but a gigantic bag to share with fellow patrons would stretch their courtesy.


Your contract when you purchase clearly outlines the conditions of entry and as they, as others previously answered above, are in a private property they can impose reasonable conditions of entry. Food and drink, unless specifically needed and difficult to otherwise remove eg PEG feeders, can be consumed before entry or obtained after leaving the premises if not purchased there. While we might object to the possibly higher prices in their own facilities we are able to make the choice of attending subject to those conditions or we can decide not to attend. If you or your guest/s has/have a specific need perhaps raising this issue with the Cinema before attending could save any problems occurring at time of entry. As to the water bottle I would suggest that they should allow the empty bottle but may require that the water is purchased there if it is going to be consumed during the event.


I would dispute this as these specific terms were not made known until after the transaction was completed and the proviso for external food was not made known until after they had taken the funds and issued the tickets.

Granted, I am then presented a window of opportunity to request a refund on the basis of not agreeing to previously unknown conditions of entry but I also note the email with the conditions of entry also advises that;

“This ticket is not refundable” and to refer to their Purchase policy which then essentially advises that because you’ve decided to use their online booking site you have also implied agreement to a variety of other policies, terms and conditions and you can be assured that should anything adverse affect your experience the issuing company disavows any responsibility or care etc etc.

So essentially the company is setting themselves up to dissuade any action as a result of a negative experience and are no different to most businesses in being happy to take as much of your money as possible but also not really concerned with the user experience. They would no doubt weigh up risk of action & public exposure versus the hit to their potential profit margins.

From a legal perspective I am unsure whether any precedence has ever been tested in relation to these sort of online transactions but I believe the business would be on shaky ground relying on a tick and flick agreemetn presenting at the intial downloading of their app if issues were to arise months or years subsequent to that.

When all is said and done, I’m 6’6" and weigh well over 150kgs cutting quite an imposing visage. If any teenage usher actually does have the nerve to tell me I can’t bring my groceries into the cinema with me, I’m likely to comply just out of respect for a young person who actually cares about their job enough to do so.


Yes I agree with your point it isn’t evident when buying the actual ticket and that this should be made very clear before paying. They do have “Cinema Information” pages and on this link they do state the refusal of permitting external food on their premises. I am not sure how the law would view this and whether it is considered good enough to legally cover them.


I have just checked a few restaurant websites which allow booking and these also don’t say that you can’t take your own food into the restaurant and consume the food using their facilities. Many restaurants in public places however have table signage indicating that only patrons of the particular restaurant (food outlet) can use the facilities to eat food purchased at that particular outlet.

Retailers also have restrictions of food being taken into stores (to product their products or to remove confusion of there the foods were purchased).

They would be in the same boat at Event Cinemas in relation to not specifically pointing to such conditions prior to booking a table online.

I wonder if the condition is imposed by say Councils as the licenses they issue have food safety conditions. Such may cover brought in foods and the right to decline.

I have no real issue with the requirement as it is not overly important consideration when watching a movie. If I was faced with the same condition, I would accept it and wouldn’t take food into the cinema except as outlined above.

Hoyts has similar information on their website…

I wonder if anyone has purchased from Hoyts and the process is similar to Event Cinemas.

The other interesting thing is cinemas are not a place to go and eat and catch a movie. Some cinemas have hot meals and wait on their patrons, similar to a restaurant only in the comfort of a cinema. Maybe this change in operations is different to the past when the cinema only provided popcorn, bagged treats and those horrible pre-made chocolate capped ice cream cones.

I suspect that a significant proportion of their profits come from food sales (based on how expensive it is) and this is something that want to protect, no differently to say to persons visiting a restaurant or a fast food outlet.


That reminds me of an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares when a group of diners who had already waited over an hour for their first course sent out for pizzs which were delivered and they devoured them at the table.

Not sure if it was staged but it certainly was hilarious.


We always take our own refillable water bottles to the movies. We have never been told we can’t take our water bottles in.
We don’t take food because we can sit through movies without needing to eat.


I sympathise with anyone having special needs, allergies, etc,. and am sure in case of a query, a simple explanation would suffice (I would hope so, anyway) but, in other cases, it would make me a bit uncomfortable to be sitting next to someone who has brought in a pungent smelling type of food, externally bought, to consume while at the cinema, and am therefore happy about the restriction.


There is nothing worse than having paid a substantial price for two movie tickets, than to have the experience devalued by other patrons. This may be by coughing and sneezing, loud talking, crunching chips or numerous other behaviours.

Some cinema patrons believe it is necessary to consume food and drink to make the experience complete. That’s OK providing the cinema operator is in agreement. It’s irrelevant to us whether the products come from the operator or outside. It simply makes the choice to not go to the cinema a simpler one. It is also why my partner who has worked in the industry refuses to go anymore and waits for the releases online!

Which is more respectful of others in our society. Permitting patrons to consume food and prepared drinks in a cinema, or quiet abstinence?


Why can’t people do one thing at a time anymore? To me eating and drinking while watching a film means a lack of concentration on one or the other.
Also, there used to be ‘Intervals’ and then you could have a hot or cold drink or some sweets, without inconveniencing any one else!


Indeed. How long is the show? is it really necessary during a period of sedentary entertainment to eat? can this not be done before or after, at a time when sharing a meal can be enjoyed?

I recently saw a live performance of some cultural significance - and in the row behind me a person was partaking of chips from a bag, during quiet moments. It beggars belief that anyone should even consider taking noisy packaging to cinema let alone live performances … various options presented themselves, however a cold stare seemed to do the trick.

Cinema food isn’t always quiet either. I’ve been known to ‘make a scene’. For what it’s worth, it is possible to walk out and get a refund on the basis of inconsiderate people negotiating cinema food packaging.


A bit of counterpoint about food at cinemas. They will make their money one way or another. Most of us go to restaurants and cafes. BYO is increasingly being abandoned in the name of profits. Some of us pay a 3.5 times markup on a bottle of wine so a bottle from Dan’s at $15 is $52.50 on the menu, and often the choices are limited and barely drinkable for individual tastes.

Easy solution of do not order nor drink wine at dinner, or just order a glass at similarly top prices? Right. OK, stay home, make your own dinner and drink what you want or go to an establishment still happy to accept BYO. It is choice (no pun intended).

Back to the cinema. Bringing in one’s own is akin to BYO. Maybe they are imaginative enough to charge a $10 cleaning and trash fee akin to ‘corkage’ collected at entry? Stop food and beverage and watch the ticket prices rise to make up for the shortfall?

How it all began -


It’s an option?

Whether there are special no food no drink sessions?

When you look to live performance interruptions to a quiet passage from a Mozart concerto or a pregnant pause in rapid fire Shakespeare are simply not done.

Are Hollywood and it’s cousins offerings that poor we need the distraction of food?

Perhaps on reflection some modern productions are that bad the promoters should be offering the popcorn and a drink for free simply to get you to attend.

Perhaps paying the true cost to attend movies without popcorn etc might lead producers to make more considered movies?


It has been a few years since I was bothered to go to a live performance, but remember the ushers refused entry or re-entry to the theatre itself to anyone with food or drink in their hands as well as policed the aisles for general miscreants. Intermissions are the norm in live performances but movies have not had them for yonks although have added paid advertisements ‘we’ pay to watch.

OTOH, attending a ‘noisy punk rock metal screaming spectacle’ the crunch and crinkle would never be noticed, and the audiences are different. Softly softly or loudly loudly case by case.


In my youth, I was one of those miscreants and was escorted out a few times. I couldn’t help being a klutz at handling my Jaffas :laughing:


Or get takeaway and drink what you want.