Theaters selling pizzas from vending machines

March 24, 2002

NEW YORK -- The phrase "pizza and a movie" has a different ring to it these days, now that select United Artists Theaters in the U.S. are selling Tombstone pizzas from vending machines.

For as little as $3, customers unwilling to wait for the cue to crumble at the concession stand can get a hot pie from a machine in just 90 seconds.

Kraft Foods has partnered with the theater chain to sell products that can be cooked quickly and sold inexpensively. Some of the selections include french fries, hot wings, chicken fingers, ham and cheese pockets, cheese sandwiches, pizza and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Currently, 40 machines are in use at UA outlets.

Wally Helton, vice president of concession operations for United Artists, told Dow Jones Newswires that movie theaters already make their customers stand in line for everything. So it only made sense to make patrons more comfortable, plus reduce the lines at the concession stand by offering moviegoers convenient alternatives. Helton also said the margins on vended products are smaller, but he believes that a small sale is better than none, which often happens when frustrated customers leave the line.

There's no word yet on how the tests are going or how long they'll run.

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