MONTREAL -- Quebecers will have to sit through a movie without eating popcorn -- but theatre owners will be compensated, says the premier, as he tried to stop 'Popcorngate' in its tracks.

Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that the government will compensate the owners of movie theatres, who complained about the loss of earnings caused by the ban on popcorn and other snacks.

Cinema owners argued that they make little profit from the sale of tickets, and rely on the sale of popcorn to ensure make up their margins.

Legault bit back at theatre owners, in particular Guzzo Cinemas owner Vincent Guzzo, who spoke out against the ban on social media.

"Did I expect a popcorn gate in Quebec?" asked Legault. "If you would have told me that a few months ago, I wouldn't have believed it, but Mr. Guzzo is very present on Twitter. He's not very nice talking about me, but I can understand that part of the profit for the movie theatres is coming from popcorn... If you want people to keep the mask (on) during all the movie, of course, you cannot sell popcorn. So, what can I say?"

On Tuesday, Legault announced that in anticipation of March break, movie theatres could reopen their doors as of Feb. 26 everywhere in Quebec, but could not serve food. The principle being that spectators must wear a mask during the entire screening.

Since Tuesday, the Association of Cinema Owners (including Guzzo) has asked the government to review its decision and allow cinemas to sell food products or to compensate them for the loss of these revenues.

Guzzo threatened the government saying he would not open his theatres' doors during Spring Break if Quebec did not comply.

In the red zone, movie theatres must respect the curfew imposed at 8 p.m.

-- with files from The Canadian Press.