Will you pay $15+ to watch a movie in a theater? Daniel Frankel reveals that ticket prices are climbing faster than ever — during a never-ending recession and at a time when it’s easier than ever to watch movies at home, legally or otherwise — in The Wrap:
The price is right … but probably not for much longer.
At least so far, theater owners have gotten away with the biggest year-to-year increases in ticket prices ever — with average admission costs spiraling upward more than 40 cents in 2010, or over 5 percent. Meanwhile, attendance has stayed largely flat, dropping less than 1 percent, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.
But with domestic theatrical revenue on pace to shatter 2009’s record $10.6 billion haul, it’s becoming increasingly evident that exhibitors are close to maxing out consumer patience.
At least to some degree, a price revolt had something to do with the surprise $10-million debut under-performance last weekend of Weinstein/Dimension’s “Piranha 3D,” which had scored impressive reviews (81 percent Rotten Tomatoes score) and viral buzz going in.
Certainly, some of the movie’s youthful target audience chose to see Fox’s cheaper 2D “Vampires Suck” rather than shell out $16.50 for a ticket to see a genre film in a format that has shown to be more and more audience-resistant in the year since “Avatar.”
“There’s certainly not much room for the price increasing further,” said an exhibition-chain executive who, like everyone else TheWrap spoke to for this story, was unwilling to lend his name to a discussion on the sensitive topic of movie prices. “The big question is going to be what happens in October and November. Once we get away from the big tentpole movies, what’s going to happen with (3D) movies like ‘Jackass 3D’ and ‘Megamind’?
But with several chains rolling back matinee showtimes from the 4 o’clock hour to no later than 1 p.m. this summer, it’s not just about 3D up-charges. Between ticket prices and the price of popcorn and a Diet Coke, moviegoing overall has become an expensive proposition…
[continues in The Wrap]