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Can you take your out-of-town snacks to the cinema? (Symbolic photo)

Photo: Oliver Berg / dpa

Putting chips in the trash or back to the home cinema: Anyone who wanted to take snacks bought outside the Spanish cinema chain Yelmo with them to the film was denied entry. For this, the Basque Institute for Consumer Affairs has now fined the company 30,000 euros. This is reported by several media outlets such as the British »Guardian« and the Spanish newspaper »El País« .

The authority's decision follows a complaint by the consumer protection organisation Facua. The latter argued that the main purpose of a cinema was to show films and not to provide food. It invokes a law that prohibits all provisions that lead to a "significant imbalance in the rights and obligations of the parties" and "limit the rights of consumers and users".

A cinema cannot behave like a restaurant

According to Facua, it is "not permissible" to deny entry to people who have bought food and drinks outside the cinema – "especially if food can be purchased on one's own premises". Yelmo could not behave like a restaurant, that would restrict the rights of consumers.

Facua's secretary-general, Rubén Sánchez, told the newspaper El País that the group had successfully sued other cinema chains in other parts of Spain for the same reason. It's a kind of monopoly that forces you to consume in the same space and spend up to 20 times more on a product."

The cinema chain said in a statement that it was an ongoing process. The decision has been appealed.