According to National Association of Theater Owners (per THR), the average cost of a movie ticket fell in the first quarter of 2014, to $7.96. And if you’re actually paying eight bucks to see a movie on opening weekend, please tell us your secret, because for most, going to the multiplex means paying double digits, with surcharges for IMAX or 3D screenings, not to mention outrageous prices for concession stand snacks. And now one major theatre chain in Canada wants to see if you’ll pay even more for the privilege of getting a decent seat.
The Toronto Star reports that Cineplex Odeon—which runs over 160 theatres with a total of 1,635 screens—will launch a pilot program later this year, where they’ll see if customers will pay $2-3 dollars for the best seats in the house, in the middle row of the theatre. So that’s right, it’s not enough that you buy a ticket, but the idea here is that you’ll pay a premium not to get a shitty location to watch the movie once you’re inside.
“It’s really about providing our guests with choices when they go to the movies,” spokesperson Pat Marshall said, who goes on to make a pretty terrible analogy. “I sort of position it akin to an aircraft where you have your regular coach seating, then you might want a bit more amenities, so you go into business class, and then you have a first-class.”
Already, going to the movies is seen as an expensive proposition, particularly for families, and this talk of further charges certainly aren’t making it any more attractive to leave to make the trip. And particularly with so much more competition from quality programming on TV, countless streaming services and more, it seems like a particularly wrong-headed decision.
But the ace up the sleeve for Cineplex is that they are by far the biggest Canadian chain around. In downtown Montreal (where I live), the only multiplexes available are run by Cineplex, so they could implement this program with little resistance or even worry that customers would go to competing chains. The only real question is if audiences would revolt enough to curb their frequency of theatre-going. At any rate, it looks like Cineplex wants to find new ways to make you pay more for sitting down and looking at a screen.