Unbelievably, an issue with popcorn made the mainstream news this week – and in a big way. The government has been in shutdown mode for the last 10 days, forcing federal employees to take an emergency furlough.

The furlough is causing a crisis for the “hundreds of thousands of federal workers whose lives are being impacted,” says AMC’s John McDonald, EVP of Operations. Because of this federal crisis, AMC decided that it would offer all of the furloughed federal employees free popcorn.

McDonald added that, “While we can’t do anything to resolve gridlock in Washington D.C., we can provide a few hours of entertainment, and free popcorn, while they wait to get back to work.” (Emphasis added)

While it's nice that someone cares about the plight of the workers without work or pay, there is an issue with the offer. No matter how thoughtful a gesture AMC's offer is, the company didn’t exactly think it (the offer) through entirely.  

A Decent or Deceptive Offer? 

Essentially, AMC seems to think that because the furloughed employees will have so much more time on their hands that they would take the opportunity to drive to a theatre and eat a free small bucket of popcorn. Alternatively, they can apply the price of a small bag of popcorn to any sized bag of popcorn and pay the difference.

Either way, even though it’s not necessary to buy movie tickets to get the free popcorn, it is a bit insensitive and deceptive of an offer. Why? Because in his quote, McDonald said that AMC can offer entertainment and popcorn, but what’s really happening is that AMC is offering the popcorn, and not the entertainment. If you want both, you’ll have to pay for movie tickets separately, which is AMC is hoping that the furloughed employees will do.

While AMC is right to think that families with time on their hands might pay to go and see a movie, such as those families that are on vacations do, this issue is entirely different. No matter how much time federal employees have during the furlough, they aren’t being paid as workers on vacation do – even if they are forced to go to work as those at the Pentagon and CDC have been.

None of the furloughed employees are going to see a dime of their salaries for the entire time that the government is shutdown and we have to wonder why AMC wouldn’t instead offer free movie tickets, since they can easily afford to do so. With that in mind, we also have to wonder whether AMC really think that offering free popcorn is going to entice families to buy movie tickets at a price of $15 to $30 each, or more? 

If you are a furloughed federal employee, go to AMC, show your federal ID and get a free small popcorn. Tickets are optional, but it’s the thought that counts.

What do you think? Should AMC offer free movie tickets too, or instead of the popcorn? Will families pay for tickets? Let us know in the comments below!