The Market Mogul: Serving Alcohol in Movie Theaters Increases Revenues, Not Underage Drinking

Yet, New York, the city that never sleeps, has consistently opposed such moves. Although state law allows movie theatres to sell alcohol if they have a table for each seat and also serve “restaurant-style food,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to ease those restrictions. The legislature on both sides of the political aisle disagreed.

Many parents and anti-underage drinking organisations oppose lifting such laws. For decades parents have considered movie theatres a safe place to drop off the kids, often unsupervised. Now they have to worry that their sons and daughters who are not yet 21 will manage to get alcoholic beverages, either through lax enforcement, fake IDs or getting someone else to buy them a drink. In a darkened theatre, they argue, no one can see if someone is drinking illegally.

But there is no evidence that alcohol in movie theatres is increasing underage drinking or deaths from alcohol-related causes. In fact, underage drinking in the US is declining across the board. So are underage deaths from alcohol-related causes, about 5000 per year in 2013, down to 4300 in 2016, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That is still too high, but alcohol in movie theatres does not seem to be increasing it.