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Popular Movie Theater Chain Is Sued for Alleged Drink Size Fraud

Movie theater concessions next to a Cinemark theater at night
Source: Canva/Charlie Essers/Flickr

A proposed class action lawsuit has targeted the United States movie theater chain Cinemark, accusing it of duping customers on concessions for its largest beverage container.

Texas resident Shane Waldrop filed the complaint in Texas federal court on Tuesday, alleging that Cinemark’s 24-ounce cups do not hold the advertised amount. According to Waldrop, the cups can only be filled with a maximum of 22 ounces of liquid. The class action asserts that this alleged deception is “part of its systemic packaging pricing practice.”

Concessions are where cinemas make their money. While half of ticket sales go back to studios, all concession sales stay with the theater. The push to offer food and drinks has inspired theaters to get more imaginative with their sales practices. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cinemark had the highest concessions sales of all time in 2023.

Unfortunately, this milestone was not a cause for celebration for some, as prices at movie concessions have led moviegoers to scrutinize their purchases more closely. Tuesday’s lawsuit alleges that Cinemark is shortchanging customers when it comes to beverage cups.

The complaint also argues that Cinemark promotes a better deal when customers purchase the 24-ounce beverage cup, which is the largest beverage container the movie theater offers. If the allegations are true, then moviegoers are paying less per ounce by buying the 20-ounce cup.

“This is especially misleading because the 24 oz drink should provide a deal for consumers over the 20 oz drink’s price: $0.37 per ounce vs. $0.39 per ounce. But due to the actual volume of 22 oz available in the “24 oz drink,” the price is $0.40 per ounce, making the larger drink more expensive per ounce, which is not a deal at all,” the complaint states.


Waldrop bought Cinemark’s largest beverage container in February for $8.80 before tax. He believed that the cup didn’t seem large enough to actually hold 24 ounces, and confirmed the suspicion when he took the container home and found that it was “merely able to contain 22 ounces of liquid,” the lawsuit states.

It is unclear if the 20-ounce beverage container can hold 20 ounces of liquid.

The class action lawsuit alleges that Cinemark is liable for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unjust enrichment, and violation of Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Waldrop, whose lawyers are seeking to represent other purchasers of the 24-ounce cup, is seeking a court order barring further alleged misrepresentations and disgorgement of profits.

“The size of the container in relation to the actual volume of the product contained in it was intended to mislead the consumer into believing the consumer was getting more of the product than what was in the container by a twelfth,” the complaint states.

As mentioned above, movie theaters prioritize concession sales, prompting AMC and Cinemark to focus on gimmick popcorn buckets.The “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie” and the sandworm “Dune: Part Two” popcorn buckets sparked a frenzy among studios attempting to create memorable popcorn buckets.

However, consumers might not be getting the bang for their buck. Maybe that was the theaters’ plan all along as the struggle to financially recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.


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