Love this thread ( infact I made an account because of it). I'm surprised that no one has any dedicated countertop popcorn makers in their HT rooms. I plan on putting in a theater style one...
Like this: www.amazon.com/Great-Northern-Popcorn-6010-Roosevelt/dp/B000QWE6S4/
I've recently been on a bend to make movie theater popcorn at home. I tried coconut oil, but ...well it tastes like coconut. The theaters used to use refined coconut oil, which has little coconut taste. Also getting butter flavored oil gets it pretty close to what it tastes like at the movies.
My wife likes layered, "butter" on her popcorn. Application was an issue so I got a spray bottle and it works pretty well but it can be a hassle to get an even coat while tossing and not losing half of the popcorn. I bought a gallon sized bottle of the flavored oil topping and a bottle pump (also like what I've seen at theaters). It's much faster, a couple of squirts and toss the popcorn to coat. Then sprinkle some Flavacol on top and toss again.
Anyway to summarize, I've found three things give popcorn that dead on movie theater taste.
1) Cook in butter flavored refined coconut oil (1Tbs per 1/4 cup)
2) Toss with butter flavored oil topping (if desired)
3) Toss with Flavacol butter flavored salt
4*) "Gourmet popcorn", it doesn't taste any different but it pops larger; similar to movie theater popcorn.
From reviews I've read, I'd recommend the Westbend Stir Crazy (http://www.amazon.com/West-Bend-82306-6-Quart-Electric/dp/B00004RC6R/
) for a popcorn popper, the countertop versus air poppers seem to have a better taste. The best taste I've found was from a stovetop popper. (Yes, I bought three for testing, but not at the same time ok :R)
Anyway, I'll post some links to the stuff I've found if you're interested in trying it. Most of it is Great Northern because it's usually the cheapest, but there's similar products linked on each page if you don't like Great Northern for some reason.
(Note: All of the butters and oil are colored with beta carotene like what colors carrots, it's nothing harmful like Yellow 5 or something.)
Butter flavored coconut oil small: amazon.com/Wabash-Valley-Farms-Popping-Oil/dp/B002EITVVA/
Butter flavored oil topping: www.amazon.com/Snappy-Popcorn-Butter-Burst-gallon/dp/B00AXK9ROC/
Flavacol butter flavored salt: www.amazon.com/Gold-Medal-Prod-Flavacol-Seasoning/dp/B004W8LT10/
Stovetop popcorn popper: www.amazon.com/Great-Northern-Popcorn-Stainless-Stove/dp/B00608D66G/
Popcorn bags: www.amazon.com/Northern-Duro-Bag-Bags-500/dp/B003XZGXCS/
This is the best one if you have a countertop/stovetop popcorn maker (not an air popper)
This adds everything together and it's actually cheaper than buying it separately (someone check my math), except for the oil topping if you want extra, or the salt if you want extra.
Anyway, I hope this helps someone who is trying to get that full movie theater taste at home like I was. Though I've noticed different theaters use different brands with a slightly different butter flavors, so if you're trying to replicate your favorite theater flavor, ask them what brand oil they use, or if they wont tell you, try a few different ones like Paragon, Snappy, Great Northern...etc.