The trouble began Nov. 21 with a bag of Orville Redenbacher popcorn. A husband and wife team of popcorn aficionados showed up at a local Mann Theater in Denver with some of Orville's finest. The two, Mary Lou Richardson and David R. Schulz, would have nothing to do with movie theater popcorn, which they claim is inferior. But they did want to see the movie ''Time Bandits.''
As they purchased their $4 tickets, the two were warned the theater had a rule against bootleg popcorn. The couple admits they didn't take the warnings seriously and smuggled in the gourmet popcorn under their coats.
To the theater's management, however, this was no laughing matter. Less than an hour later, Mr. Schulz was handcuffed and taken to jail on a charge of disturbing the peace. Theater officials say that the popcorn lover used bad language and tried to punch a policeman. The couple denies the charge.
Schulz was freed that night after his wife posted a $103 bond. But a Feb. 1 trial date has been set and the couple already has run up $1,000 in legal fees. The two say they are confident the charges will be dropped. They also are considering a lawsuit to recover the money they have spent in legal fees.