Movie And A Beer? Can You Drink At Your Theater?

With the introduction of movie streaming services such as Netflix, national movie theater attendance has been declining.  To combat the ease of the at-home entertainment, theaters are beginning to serve alcohol and food to attract more customers.  Many theaters are adding full bars to their concession options. At some cinemas, customers can be served meals and alcohol directly to their seats during the film.

Theaters now capitalize on serving specialty “themed” drinks that correlate with the films they are screening, such as “Ghostbusters” cocktails that were served at AMC Theaters.  Beverages ranging from craft beers to wine and cocktails help cinemas to draw an audience.

Although it is legal to serve alcohol in theaters in Utah, it is illegal to serve it while showing a sexually explicit movie.  Brewvies, a movie theater in Salt Lake City, is at risk of losing its liquor license after a screening of “Deadpool."  Brewvies has filed a lawsuit against the state claiming that the law is unconstitutional, violating its First Amendment freedom of speech.  The Utah Attorney General’s office wants the law to remain in place claiming that alcohol and sexual content together is an “explosive combination."  This incident is not the first time Brewvies has had a conflict with the law for similar conduct.  The theater was also fined $1,627 for showing “The Hangover, Part II”, which contained full nudity. Brewvies has not had any liquor law violations.

 A similar ban used to be present in Idaho, and the sale of alcohol was prohibited during showings of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.  Theaters that violated this law faced fines or a suspended liquor license.  The law is now nullified, and theaters no longer face suspension of liquor licenses for the screening of sexually explicit films.

Governor Cuomo of New York has a proposal to legalize the sale of beer and wine in all theaters.  The current law stipulates that only theaters with installed kitchens and sit down dinner service are currently allowed to serve liquor.  The proposal aims to incentivize the sale of beverages from New York wineries and breweries.  If passed, alcoholic beverages would only be sold at PG-13 and higher rated films, and patrons could only purchase one drink at a time. The sale of hard liquor was not included in this proposal.

 The following 44 states allow alcohol to be sold in movie theaters:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

We work with Starlight Cinemas as well as other movie theaters to help protect their liquor licenses.  Can we help out your theater?

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