That’s the question that a New York Times business article, “Changes Ahead for a Theater Near You“, posed today. In the story, AMC Entertainment Peter C. Brown says that variable pricing — meaning bigger movies and weekend shows will cost significantly more than smaller movies and weeknight shows — will happen “within a year.” he said. “There are people looking at it. I’ll leave it at that.”
Many theaters already have some type of variable pricing. In many cities, for instance, big theater chains charge about a $1 less on weeknights. But the story says this doesn’t make much of a difference and more drastic shifts are being examined. And this makes some independent film insiders worried.
“Can you imagine the impact this could have on independent films?” said the worried email in my inbox. “If films with smaller audiences are sold with cut-rate admission prices, this could put an even bigger crunch on [indie] distributors and filmmakers.”
The article recognizes this “slippery slope,” quoting Brown, “when you start to be someone who would be suggesting that, say, ‘King Kong’ is a product that should be priced differently from ‘Memoirs of a Geisha‘ or ‘Capote.’ Because ultimately it is art.”
But, of course, how often is cinema really considered art these days?