Cinema chain's popcorn promotion raises food waste concerns

By Mai Nhat   October 27, 2022 | 07:21 pm PT
As moviegoers line up to get free popcorn in giant containers as part of a promotion by a cinema chain, there is a hue and cry over food wastage.

Lotte Cinema is running a promotion called "Popcorn Beast" in HCMC and other cities from October 25 to November 30.

To get free popcorn, people just need to buy a movie ticket and bring a container (excluding plastic and paper bags) and employees will fill it to the brim regardless of its size.

Many young people started to take part in it, and videos of people eating popcorn from a bucket in movie theaters got hundreds of thousands of likes on TikTok.

Employees promote the Popcorn Beast campaign. Photo courtesy of Lotte Cinema

Employees promote the "Popcorn Beast" campaign. Photo courtesy of Lotte Cinema

Long queues were spotted at many Lotte cinemas with people carrying plastic tubs, polystyrene containers, aluminum pots, and others.

Tuan Ha of Binh Thanh District, who went to a cinema alone, said: "The event made for a fun and lively atmosphere. Many youngsters even brought rice cookers, pots and other containers to get popcorn and take pictures or videos."

But the promotion has become a smash hit not just in HCMC, and is also drawing big crowds in many other places.

Lotte Cinema is itself surprised by how many people are interested in and talking about the event across platforms. Even on an ostensibly slow day like Monday tens of thousands of people are coming to its theaters every day.

But the promotion is raising concerns about wastage of food since people are obtaining more popcorn than they can possibly consume.

Chieu Ngan, a regular moviegoer, said she sees many people unable to finish even a third leaving the rest on their seats or in trash bins.

"When I go to the movies by myself, I almost never order popcorn because I think the regular size is too big already. Some of my pals admit they are merely following the popular trend despite knowing they will not be able to finish their portion."

A person named Nguyen Phu Thanh Binh wrote in an environmental forum on October 26: "What if there are leftovers? What is the point of taking that much popcorn when you can't finish it? It takes lots of energy and resources to make this popcorn."

Spilled popcorn on the ground at a movie theater. Photo courtesy of environment Facebook group Toi La Rac - I Am Rubbish

Popcorn spilled on the ground at a movie theater. Photo courtesy of environmental Facebook group Toi La Rac - I Am Rubbish

The post has been shared more than 9,300 times, and many commenters agree with it.

Lotte Cinema agreed that the promotion had some unintended fallouts.

Le Thi Tham, a spokesperson, said the company expected customers to be aware when it began the promotion, and so did not impose any conditions or restrictions.

"But there will always be spills and images of them have sparked public angst. We feel terrible about it."

The company said after nearly two years of Covid affecting the film industry, it wanted to thank customers and get more people into cinemas.

She said the company would reevaluate, change and advise audiences.

"We will urge customers to use up all the corn they take. We will also put up posters to advise people take the right quantity of popcorn for their needs."

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