Ethanol vs. Indiana Jones?

We’re knee-deep in the summer movie season, but your blockbusters could cost you a bit more this year. Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood Daily had an interesting tid-bit about how the price of corn connects to the price of your ticket. In an article predicting how well “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” will do this weekend, she writes:

“Then again, that’s not taking into account how movie theaters are raising ticket prices by a dollar or two this summer because popcorn is more expensive. (According to news reports, next year’s corn stocks are expected to plunge to a 13-year low, corn-futures contracts have soared to an all-time high, and the sudden demand for ethanol will claim 40% of next year’s corn crop. So the profit margins at theaters which rely on concession sales for as much as 45% of their revenue have to make up the difference somehow.)”

Finke isn’t the only blogger blaming ethanol for jacking up the price of the popcorn. Dan Farber recently wrote a post complimenting the computers in “Iron Man” but ended it with a warning: “A note to movies goers: the jumbo popcorn with the free refill has been suspended due to the rising cost of corn and production of ethanol, at least at my theater.”

It’s a similar to scenario to what happened last summer when popcorn makers were first hit by major rises in corn prices. NPR reported in July 2007:

“Blame the boom in demand for ethanol for higher popcorn prices at a theatre near you…The company that makes Jolly Time Pop Corn reports price increases of 10 to 20 percent. Other makers report price hikes as high as 40 percent.”

However, new research we reported on this morning from New Energy Finance says ethanol is only 8.1 percent to blame for higher food prices. Either way, theaters are likely to continue to raise popcorn prices. The solution? Buy your own theater popcorn maker.

Chris Albrecht contributed to this story.