now, the real way to get value out of this would be to either eat before you go the movie, or smuggle food and pop in.
Movie theaters are restaurants first and foremost. If it wasn't for food and beverage sales, they would lose money and all go out of business. I read an article at Variety.com awhile back, and it said that they actually lose money on just selling you a ticket (especially true for Matinees) but they make up for it in food sales.
Of course, compared to the cost of concessions at pro sports events, these movie theaters are a great bargain!
I read an article about this 17.50 thing, not sure if its the same one you linked, but it said "most heavy moviegoers go to movies on the weekend." hehe did they mean "heavy" movie goers as the fatsos (like me) who buy a lot of food, or did they mean it as people who go to the movies often! haha it works both ways.
I am pretty much done going to movies though, I have only gone to about 5 of them in the last 2 years. And none since Hannibal in February.