Philippines’ SM Cinema chain removes ban on outside food, draws line at rice, pasta

Relax, moviegoers who prefer to dine in the dark, the world of SM Cinema is once again your oyster.

Actually, we’re not entirely sure you can bring oysters, but plenty of other outside foods can once again be brought into the theater after a brief ban — just not everything. But allow us to catch you up.

A complete ban on outside foods, which Coconuts Manila has been informed officially began back in September, created a firestorm this weekend when the SM mall chain finally started enforcing it.

Facebook user John Winkle Wong was having none of it, posting a now-viral call to arms in which he said he’d be boycotting SM in favor of the cinemas at their competitor Ayala Malls instead.

“This ‘No Outside Food’ policy is just stupid and greedy. Seriously what’s the point?” he asked.

He went on to claim that “a lot of paying customers” were allegedly being stopped at the cinema entrance and asked to surrender the food they bought in the mall, or to eat it outside quickly.

Wong went on to say he saw an elderly woman who was not allowed to bring in a bottle of drinking water because she purchased it from the mall’s SM Hypermarket and not at the concession counter.

Some people requested for a refund of their tickets but all they can give is a movie voucher. Why would you deny customers their own choice of comfort food while they enjoy a movie they paid for?” he asked.

Wong’s Facebook post had over 105,000 reactions, 34,000 comments, and 60,000 shares as of this article’s posting. Netizens were quick to join in on the conversation, and they had a few choice words for SM Cinema.

Suzie Argao said, “How silly you can be SM Cinemads (sic)?”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Rodolfo Steve Yuipco Ignacio said it was a “greedy move.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Sciann Lindo seconded the thought and said: “this is plain greed.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Marissa Fe Siglos Tabor asked people to “boycott SM Cinema[s] nationwide.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Others, meanwhile, defended SM Cinema and added that there were a lot of cinemas that have this policy.

“I don’t think they’re being greedy… Sm Cinema already released a statement regarding this matter… Some people really aren’t disciplined enough to make sure they aren’t leaving their seats filthy,” said Pauline Saycon.

Saycon added that the cleaning staff only has a limited amount of time to clean up before the next movie. “So yeah, I somehow understand this decision, though it’s still sad coz I always bring my own food inside the cinema.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Gracie Mariano Quilala said in a mix of English and Filipino: “I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s just so hard for us Filipinos to follow rules. I mean, of course i would loooove to eat a great slice of pizza while watching a good movie but like i said it’s a rule. Even here in the US, outside food is not allowed. I don’t get what the fuss is all about.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Davin Ordinario said: “A lot of movie theaters have this policy. Maybe sometimes it’s not enforced as strongly as others, but it’s a policy nonetheless. And honestly, whether you like to admit it or not, it’s a fairly reasonable one too.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

Val Evans Vallesteros added, “From my knowledge, SM Cinema has had this policy for a while already. I think they just got stricter because a lot of movie-goers are irresponsible for their litter. Once, I was watching this movie when this movie-goer accidentally spilled his popcorn but didn’t bother to clean it. Anyways, I hope SM Cinema offers more variety of food.”

Photo: John Winkle Wong/FB

That as it turns out is true. Jade Poldo, a customer service representative of SM Cinema, told Coconuts Manila today that the no outside food policy was first implemented in September, but has now officially been rescinded.

That said, the company announced today that a few specific items will remain on the forbidden list, due to what they said are complaints from guests. The still-banned foods are:

1. Rice and Pasta meals
2. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in glass bottles and can
3. Food items with sauces (such as vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce)
4. Food on stick

Sorry, fans of Jollibee spaghetti.

This article, Philippines’ SM Cinema chain removes ban on outside food, draws line at rice, pasta, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!