Movie popcorn for $1! Broadway for $90! Entertainment prices finally get saner

They say that in lean times, the entertainment biz booms. That's not completely true this time around. Although box office receipts are up 17% compared to a year ago, studios are buying fewer features, and Hollywood still hasn't figured out how to deal with the long-term onslaught of new media and movies-on-demand.

But at least we're seeing some stronger value in the aisles. The Carmike cinema chain, which operates 2,276 screens in 36 states, wants to make Tuesday your movie night, and to fill those seats, it's marking its popcorn and soda down to $1. For two bucks, you can get 16 ounces of pop and 46 ounces of popcorn for two Georges. That's still a few times what they cost to make, but it's surprising that the multiplex chain would do it, since the concession stand is typically where a cinema makes money once the studios and distributors are done skimming the box office receipts.

AMC, which has long offered the first movie of the day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for half price (I've learned to get my movie-going in at the 11am shows in New York City, where the movies not only cost $6, but also are never sold out), has rolled out a limited menu of concession items that cost $3 each, or cost $7.50 for three. Still not cheap, but at least you no longer need a letter of credit to take your date out.