For nearly 100 years, popcorn has been the country’s favorite cinema snack. This month, ArcLight Cinemas announces a year-long, multi-faceted program designed to redefine what the future popcorn experience can be. POPPED will introduce ArcLight Cinemas guests to new popcorn flavors, product creations, and exclusive events, offering moviegoers a chance to ‘Experience Popcorn Now’.
To accomplish this, ArcLight Cinemas sought out the help of the country’s emerging culinary brands and award-winning chefs. As the first exhibitor to introduce reserved seating and the first to allow alcohol into the auditorium, ArcLight Cinemas will once again disrupt the moviegoing industry by bringing new ideas about food experiences and building bridges to today’s creative culinary community to surprise and delight movie-goers. A group of the most exciting names in the food industry will partner with ArcLight Cinemas, including modern Mexican fast-casual restaurant group Tocaya Organica, non-alcoholic spirit brand Seedlip, Momofuku’s fried chicken concept Fuku, and star chefs from across the country and all four ArcLight Cinemas markets, including Chef Abe Conlon of Fat Rice in Chicago, Chef Kwame Onwuachi of Kith/Kin in Washington, DC, Chef Karen Akunowicz of Fox & the Knife in Boston, and Chef Jude Parra-Sickels of Majordomo in Los Angeles.
“When we started to look at popcorn and how its flavors and experiences haven’t changed much since the first Cretors popcorn carts were positioned outside cinemas in the 1920s, we knew it was time to innovate across the board,” said Vince Szwajkowski, chief marketing officer, ArcLight Cinemas. “From our concessions and bars to our core operations, we’re offering guests a chance to get a taste for what the future of popcorn could be, such as popcorn-inspired non-alcoholic cocktails and new approaches to popcorn chicken. Throughout the year, roughly every quarter, we’ll feature a series of new collaborations with chefs and culinary brands, as well as introduce new innovations in sustainability and creative activations centering around popcorn,” Szwajkowski explained. “We are committed to pushing culinary boundaries.”
In March, the first of these partnerships will debut at ArcLight Cinemas around the country. ArcLight Cinemas will collaborate with innovative restaurant group Tocaya Organica, known for its signature fusion of vegan-inspired healthy cuisine using classic Mexican ingredients and flavors. For ArcLight Cinema’s POPPED project, Tocaya Organica have developed an exclusive popcorn seasoning, a reimagined rendition of Mexican Street (pop)Corn. To match Tocaya Organica’s commitment to organic, natural and sustainable ingredients, ArcLight Cinemas will introduce organic corn kernels for the first time. At select sites, such as the ArcLight Cinemas location in La Jolla, California, a popcorn cart will circulate between ArcLight Cinemas and Tocaya Organica, offering film and food lovers alike a chance to taste this new collaborative culinary creation.
Another major trend emerging in today’s culinary culture is non-alcoholic cocktails. As more people choose not to consume alcohol for health and lifestyle choices, many still want a beverage experience that reflects ‘cocktail culture’. ArcLight Cinemas, understanding the changing tastes of its guests, approached Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits, to create three custom popcorn inspired cocktails for POPPED. Featured on all ArcLight Cinemas Bar menus at all 11 ArcLight Cinemas sites, guests will be able to experience Seedlip as the first movie theater brand to carry the spirit. Seedlip will also host pop-up bars and retail activations to introduce moviegoers to new craft cocktail experiences.
In April, ArcLight Cinemas will introduce its first sustainable approach to packaging: reusable popcorn tubs. As the general public has become aware of the need for more sustainable options for all types of packaging, ArcLight Cinemas knew that it was important to try new ways of presenting popcorn for its guests. The new Arclight Cinemas reusable popcorn tub is made of durable, washable silicone and can be collapsed to easily to carry from home to theater and back again. As a way to recognize and rewards guests who opt to use ArcLight Cinemas branded sustainable packaging, guests will receive $1 off a large popcorn purchase each time they bring their reusable popcorn tub to ArcLight Cinemas.
Beginning in May, four of America’s most exciting chefs will create new spice flavor profiles for ArcLight Cinemas popcorn. Each custom flavor will be inspired by each chef’s signature cuisine. “An important goal for us is to continuously innovate and introduce our guests to new ideas and experiences, not just in film but also food,” explained Szwajkowski. “By partnering with these four chefs, nationally recognized for their innovative takes on cuisine, ArcLight Cinemas will be bringing new flavors and food trends to moviegoers, many of whom don’t have the opportunity to experience these great chefs’ cuisine.”
ArcLight Cinemas’ chef partners are Chef Abe Conlon of Fat Rice in Chicago, Chef Kwame Onwuachi of Kith/Kin in Washington, DC, Chef Karen Akunowicz of Fox & the Knife in Boston and Chef Jude Parra-Sickels of Majordomo in Los Angeles. “Going to the movies was a big part of growing up in Los Angeles.
There were so many unique theaters all over town, but The Cinerama Dome was my favorite,” said Jude Parra-Sickels. “Years later, I’m very excited and grateful to create a popcorn seasoning for ArcLight Cinemas and add to a small part of movie-going culture.”
But these activations are just the beginning; throughout the year, new culinary partnerships, sustainability initiatives and events will debut in ArcLight Cinemas locations across the country.