Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Movie theaters fight to keep popcorn from food-labeling rule - Daily Herald” plus 1 more

“Movie theaters fight to keep popcorn from food-labeling rule - Daily Herald” plus 1 more


Movie theaters fight to keep popcorn from food-labeling rule - Daily Herald

Posted:

WASHINGTON -- Movie theater chains are fighting a federal requirement to disclose that their popcorn contains as many as 1,460 calories, or equal to almost three Big Macs.

Chain restaurants with at least 20 U.S. locations will have to post the calorie content of menu items under a provision in the health care law. Regulators will propose rules by March 23 and can include concession stands and grocery stores, according to guidance that came out last year.

"It's easy enough to blow your whole diet for a week from one snack at the movie theater," said Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. "Just because you happen to be watching a movie while you're eating doesn't mean you aren't eating out."

Movie theaters and grocery stores are lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to avoid the proposed regulation. Theater chains led by Knoxville, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group generate as much as one-third of their annual revenue from concessions. Congress didn't mention theaters in the law, and the idea of regulating them never came up at legislative hearings, said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners, a Washington-based trade group.

"In the basic history of the bill, there is no real intent to include movie theaters that we could discern," Corcoran said in a telephone interview. His trade group is recommending the FDA exempt companies that get less than 35 percent of gross revenue from food sales.

Grocery stores also shouldn't be subject to the rule, said Erik Lieberman, regulatory counsel for the Food Marketing Institute, the Arlington, Va.-based trade group representing chains including Safeway Inc.

Movie theater chains were supposed to be targeted by the mandate, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored a food-labeling bill in the House that was incorporated into the health care law. The requirement "is meant to let people know what it is that they're consuming," she said.

Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat of Iowa who sponsored a similar measure, aimed for a broad definition of retail food operations that included movie theaters and grocery stores because people often buy prepared meals at the establishments, said spokeswoman Justine Sessions.

Only prepared food such as popcorn and hot dogs sold at concession stands may be subject to the labeling requirements because packaged food already has nutritional labels.

If concession stands are exempt, a customer of McDonald's would know a Big Mac meal with a medium French fries and a medium Coca-Cola has 1,130 calories while a theatergoer at Regal Cinemas wouldn't know that a large popcorn with butter-flavored topping packs 330 more calories than the fast-food combo. A Big Mac alone has 540 calories.

Movie theaters offer fare similar to fast-food establishments and should be subject to the same rules, said Wootan.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest analyzed popcorn sold by Regal Entertainment, Cinemark and AMC Entertainment Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., in 2009 and found it contained from 370 calories to 1,460 calories depending on the serving size and whether butter- flavored toppings were added. A "moderately active" man who is 26 to 45 years old should consume 2,600 calories in a day, according to guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food sales accounted for 26 percent of Regal Entertainment's $2.81 billion in revenue last year, according to the firm's annual report. Thirty percent of Cinemark's $2.14 billion in 2010 sales came from food and drinks, according to the company's annual report.

Dick Westerling, Regal Entertainment's senior vice president of marketing and advertising, declined to comment in an e-mail. Cinemark and Columbus, Georgia-based Carmike declined to comment through Robert Rinderman, managing director of New York-based consulting company Jaffoni & Collins Inc., which represents both companies. Justin Scott, a spokesman for AMC Entertainment, declined to comment in an e-mail.

The National Restaurant Association in Washington and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, a division of the Washington-based National Retail Federation, endorsed the federal labeling requirements to replace laws in cities including New York and Philadelphia, said Scott Vinson, vice president of the chain restaurants group. Movie theaters ought to play by the same rules, he said by telephone.

"A lot of these places are, in our opinion, our competitors," Vinson said. Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, declined to comment in an e-mail. The National Restaurant Association supports covering movie theaters in the regulation, Sue Hensley, a spokesman, said in a voice mail.

--With assistance from Matt Barry in Washington.

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MOVIE REVIEW: 'Mars Needs Moms' deserves a mere pat on the head (video) - New Haven Register

Posted:

Disney photo: Our best mothers are being scooped off the planet in "Mars Needs Moms."

You'll want to stay through the closing credits of the new motion capture animated adventure "Mars Needs Moms," a film from the people who gave us "The Polar Express." There are four minutes of clips of the real-live cast of the film, Seth Green, Joan Cusack and Dan Fogler among them, wearing the mo-cap suits, dots covering their faces so that the sensors can digitally mimic their movements, actions and facial reactions as they act out what's going to be animated.

It's fascinating and also the lightest and funniest part of this film, based on a novel by "Bloom County" creator Berkeley Breathed. Though light enough in tone, packed with good messages and delivering a couple of lovely, touching moments, "Mars" still has that plastic look that made you wish you were seeing the REAL Tom Hanks in "Polar Express" or the REAL Jim Carrey in "A Christmas Carol."

Cute characters and a "Star Wars"- derived plot — rescuing a damsel from a heavily garrisoned "citadel" — drive this tale, a movie more interested in action beats than in big laughs. It's not bad, and is considerably more kid-friendly than the trippy and more adult-oriented "Rango." It's just not as much fun as a live-action version of the same story might have been.

Milo (voiced by Seth Green) hates taking out the trash and won't eat his broccoli. And when Mom (Joan Cusack) lays down the law — "No broccoli, no TV," he revolts.

"My life would be so much better if I didn't have a mom at all."

Milo, who looks to be about 11, learns a big life lesson with that. Words can wound. He makes his mom cry.

Imagine his guilt when, a few hours later, she's abducted by aliens. He scrambles after her and learns an awful secret — "Mars Needs Moms." And not just any moms, GOOD moms. Ones who lay down the law, teach their children respect, discipline, manners and values, maybe teach their kids not to kick the seat in front of them at the movie theater.

Martians spy on us, pick out a mom doing a good job, and grab her so that they can use her brain to encode their nanny robots, which they use to raise baby Martians miles below the surface of the planet, far from the probing eye of the Mars Rover.

Milo is at a loss about how to rescue Mom until he himself is saved by Gribble, a portly subterranean nerd played by Dan Fogler. Gribble stowed away to Mars just like Milo and has survived, built robots and filled his own junkyard lair with hi-tech gear. He is surrounded by hordes of goofy, dreadlocked outcasts from Mars society whom he can understand (he's built a translator) but can't communicate with. Continued...

Gribble is trapped in the '80s, which is when he arrived. He's fighting "the spread of interplanetary communism" for Ronald Reagan. "Why do you think they call it 'The Red Planet?'"

Milo has mere hours to convince Gribble to help rescue his mother before her brain is cooked, hours to find and meet a Martian graffiti artist (Elisabeth Harnois) in revolt against the regimented, colorless matriarchy of Mars.

Director Simon Wells worked on "Prince of Egypt" and "The Time Machine" and is right at home with the endless digital chases, shootouts and such. He and his animators also deliver a couple of those big emotional moments that gave "Up" and "Toy Story 3" their pathos. But laughs? He doesn't do well with the ones the script sets up.

There's subtext here, too. Plainly, Breathed the author has some mommy issues he was working out — women running a planet are too busy to nurture their own babies.

It all makes for an intricate if slow and somewhat humor-starved early Mother's Day present in which a boy learns just how much his mom means to him on the Red Planet. "Mars Needs Moms," but Milo needs Mom even more.


MOVIE REVIEW

Title: "Mars Needs Moms"

Cast: Voices of Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler and Elisabeth Harnois

Director: Simon Wells Continued...

Disney photo: Our best mothers are being scooped off the planet in "Mars Needs Moms."

You'll want to stay through the closing credits of the new motion capture animated adventure "Mars Needs Moms," a film from the people who gave us "The Polar Express." There are four minutes of clips of the real-live cast of the film, Seth Green, Joan Cusack and Dan Fogler among them, wearing the mo-cap suits, dots covering their faces so that the sensors can digitally mimic their movements, actions and facial reactions as they act out what's going to be animated.

It's fascinating and also the lightest and funniest part of this film, based on a novel by "Bloom County" creator Berkeley Breathed. Though light enough in tone, packed with good messages and delivering a couple of lovely, touching moments, "Mars" still has that plastic look that made you wish you were seeing the REAL Tom Hanks in "Polar Express" or the REAL Jim Carrey in "A Christmas Carol."

Cute characters and a "Star Wars"- derived plot — rescuing a damsel from a heavily garrisoned "citadel" — drive this tale, a movie more interested in action beats than in big laughs. It's not bad, and is considerably more kid-friendly than the trippy and more adult-oriented "Rango." It's just not as much fun as a live-action version of the same story might have been.

Milo (voiced by Seth Green) hates taking out the trash and won't eat his broccoli. And when Mom (Joan Cusack) lays down the law — "No broccoli, no TV," he revolts.

"My life would be so much better if I didn't have a mom at all."

Milo, who looks to be about 11, learns a big life lesson with that. Words can wound. He makes his mom cry.

Imagine his guilt when, a few hours later, she's abducted by aliens. He scrambles after her and learns an awful secret — "Mars Needs Moms." And not just any moms, GOOD moms. Ones who lay down the law, teach their children respect, discipline, manners and values, maybe teach their kids not to kick the seat in front of them at the movie theater.

Martians spy on us, pick out a mom doing a good job, and grab her so that they can use her brain to encode their nanny robots, which they use to raise baby Martians miles below the surface of the planet, far from the probing eye of the Mars Rover.

Milo is at a loss about how to rescue Mom until he himself is saved by Gribble, a portly subterranean nerd played by Dan Fogler. Gribble stowed away to Mars just like Milo and has survived, built robots and filled his own junkyard lair with hi-tech gear. He is surrounded by hordes of goofy, dreadlocked outcasts from Mars society whom he can understand (he's built a translator) but can't communicate with.

Gribble is trapped in the '80s, which is when he arrived. He's fighting "the spread of interplanetary communism" for Ronald Reagan. "Why do you think they call it 'The Red Planet?'"

Milo has mere hours to convince Gribble to help rescue his mother before her brain is cooked, hours to find and meet a Martian graffiti artist (Elisabeth Harnois) in revolt against the regimented, colorless matriarchy of Mars.

Director Simon Wells worked on "Prince of Egypt" and "The Time Machine" and is right at home with the endless digital chases, shootouts and such. He and his animators also deliver a couple of those big emotional moments that gave "Up" and "Toy Story 3" their pathos. But laughs? He doesn't do well with the ones the script sets up.

There's subtext here, too. Plainly, Breathed the author has some mommy issues he was working out — women running a planet are too busy to nurture their own babies.

It all makes for an intricate if slow and somewhat humor-starved early Mother's Day present in which a boy learns just how much his mom means to him on the Red Planet. "Mars Needs Moms," but Milo needs Mom even more.


MOVIE REVIEW

Title: "Mars Needs Moms"

Cast: Voices of Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler and Elisabeth Harnois

Director: Simon Wells

Running time: 89 minutes

Rating: PG

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