Coming Soon: Healthy Snacks in Theaters

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Moviegoers may actually ditch their buttered popcorn in favor of healthier snacks at the movies, according to a recent survey.

According to a recent poll, moviegoers said they’d be open to buying healthier concession at theaters, said Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton at ShoWest, the biggest nationwide convention gathering for the movie theater industry. The healthier snacks suggested by those surveyed included granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fresh fruit and fruit cups, vegetables with dip, baked chips and apple chips, in addition to current snack offerings.

Two-thirds of people surveyed who watch movies in theaters would be more likely to buy healthier options at concession stands if they were offered, according to Lynton.

Eating a large tub of popcorn at Regal Cinemas (Stock Quote: RGC), for example, means consuming about 1,200 calories and 60 grams fat, which is about equal to two Pizza Hut (Stock Quote: YUM) Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas topped with an additional two days' worth of saturated fat, suggests WebMD, citing research conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Dramatic changes in movie theater diets aren't likely. “Nobody wants to eat cauliflower while watching Spider-Man, or drink a 40-ounce cup of prune juice," said Lynton. However, “… even small steps in the right direction can have a big impact," the Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) CEO added.

In addition to addressing a growing childhood obesity problem in the United States, selling healthier snacks could also mean better concession sales in theaters, according to Lynton.

About 42% of parents surveyed by Sony said that they’d buy snacks at concession stands more often if they offered healthy foods, the Sony study found.

Theaters make a majority of their revenue from concessions as opposed to ticket sales, according to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and concession prices are generally as high as they are in order to keep ticket prices low.

At the popcorn stand, about 85 cents on the dollar is profit, Smart Money reports. (But outrageous popcorn prices are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to movie-theater turnoffs, MainStreet explains in a recent article, Movie Theater Horror Stories.)

Some movie theater concession stands and cafés already offer healthier options including fresh and dried fruits and whole grain baked goods, but they still aren't widely available at theaters nationwide.

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