Movie theaters are known for serving overpriced popcorn in inordinately large servings. While the number of calories in the buckets of popcorn from different movie theaters may vary in calorie count, the standard number of calories in 1 cup of oil-popped popcorn without butter is 55, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A scientific analysis of three brands of movie theater popcorn found that they all fell within 10 calories of the USDA standard.
Sizing Up the Servings
According to research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the calorie counts from popcorn in three different movie theaters were similar, at 60.91, 61.67 and 52.5 calories per cup. The lowest-calorie popcorn came from a company that uses nonhydrogenated canola oil to pop its corn, whereas the other two brands used coconut oil. But the serving sizes for these theaters vary wildly, between 6 to 11 cups for a small and 16 to 20 cups for a large. The smallest serving available boasts 370 calories, and the 20-cup serving contains a whopping 1,200 calories. When consuming movie theater popcorn, be aware of how much popcorn is in the container you order and plan to share with friends to avoid consuming unnecessary calories and fat.