Your movie theater may be changing your drink, the lawsuit alleges

Your movie theater may be changing your drink, the lawsuit alleges

Even a pint of beer at the movie theater isn’t immune to shrinkage, the lawsuit against Cinemark claims. And one man is leading the fight against what he considers false advertising on his beer.

The proposed class-action suit, filed this week in Texas federal court, alleges that the theater chain’s 24-ounce beverage cups can only hold a maximum of 22 ounces, intentionally confusing customers.

According to the lawsuit, the lead plaintiff, Shane Waldrop, ordered a 24-ounce beer from a Texas Cinemark theater on Valentine’s Day this year and noticed that the 24-ounce container did not appear to be large enough to hold 24 ounces of liquid. Waldrop then took the container home and measured it for himself, finding it only held 22 ounces, according to the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is another example of consumers inadvertently overpaying for benefits they should not have received,” Jarrett Ellzey, one of Waldrop’s attorneys, said in a statement to CNN. “While two ounces may seem insignificant to the seller, the bottom line is that the buyer is not getting what the seller promised.”

The lawsuit alleges Cinemark’s false advertising violates both state and federal laws.

CNN has not independently verified Cinemark’s 24-ounce cup size, and Cinemark did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Smaller cup, bigger bill
Concessions are a major part of the movie theater business. For Cinemark’s most recently reported quarter, concession revenue increased to $243 million, while admission revenue was $322.2 million.

The price increase appears to have boosted that revenue: Cinemark reported concession revenue for 2023 exceeded that of 2019 by 3%, even though movie attendance was 25% lower.

Waldrop’s lawsuit claims some of that revenue comes through switching customers. A 20-ounce drink at the Plano, Texas, Cinemark theater Waldrop visited costs $7.80 before tax, while a 24-ounce drink costs just $1 more, at $8.80.

“A 24 oz drink should provide a bargain for consumers over the price of a 20 oz drink: $0.37 per ounce vs. $0.39 per ounce,” the lawsuit said. “But due to the actual volume of 22 oz contained in a “24 oz” drink, the price is $0.40 per ounce making the larger drink more expensive per ounce, which is no deal at all.”

‘shrinkage’ trend
During high inflation, some companies reduce the size of their products to reduce costs instead of raising prices. The practice, known as “shrinkage,” has come into the spotlight recently as several packaged food brands face accusations of quietly engaging in the practice. OREO Double Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies saw a 6% decrease in size by weight from January 2019 to October 2023, according to a report from Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey in December, using Labor Department data.

“Consumers are tired of not getting value for their hard-earned money while companies get windfalls for providing underperforming or, as in this case, incomplete products,” Ellzey said. “Although often misunderstood, class actions serve as a device to change bad business practices like these.”

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