One could suppose that it was always going to come to this as AMC Theatres announced that they would move to dynamic pricing.
During their earnings webcast, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said:
“Currently, our prices for The Batman are slightly higher than the prices we are charging for other movies playing in the same theaters at the same time.”
In previous years, AMC has increased ticket prices during the weekend. This is why discount Tuesday still remains one of the best days to see a movie. Sure, there might be a larger crowd but tickets will be cheaper than the weekend!
The pandemic has impacted the box office so much that AMC is using The Batman to start playing with the cost of tickets. Yes, that’s right. At a time when inflation is surging, it’s going to cost you even more money to see The Batman. Higher ticket prices are not and should not be the answer. And yet, we collectively have to figure out how to bring audiences back in mass. Films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman are not enough. The pandemic is a factor but both West Side Story and Nightmare Alley underperformed. Speaking for myself and those in my circles: higher tickets are not the answer. If anything, it’s going to keep audiences away or turn to another theater chain. This is easier said than done, of course. Moviegoers are limited by what chains are in their city.
I love going to the movies. It’s a nice way to sit down and escape for anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. G-d knows just how much I needed it last week when I attended a press screening of The Batman. For the time being, I’ve been going mainly to press screenings with some premiere and film fest screenings being the rare exception. If I missed a press screening during the before times, I would wait until Tuesday when tickets were lower. Or I’d go for pre-noon screenings when matinee prices were at their most affordable. Nowadays, theaters aren’t even open until the mid to late afternoon. If I want to attend a matinee screening around noon, it’s no longer an option. This speaks to how many people are not returning to the movies. It also speaks to the staffing shortages, too.
AMC River East 21’s first screening on Thursday is 3 PM. It isn’t until the weekend starts on Friday when movies start screening around 11:30 AM. Once we get to Monday, it’s back to not opening until the mid-afternoon. What this also means that when there are press screenings during the week and the concession stands are closed, I have no choice but to bring my own food and drink. Other chains are different. Landmark Century Cinema opens at 1 PM on Monday. Oh yeah, they do not have any dynamic pricing for tickets! Funny enough, it’s cheaper to attend AMC for the earliest standard screening on Friday than it is to attend Landmark.
It’s a terribly sad day when going to the movies is no different than going to a sporting event. What I take away from this is that AMC values the blockbuster tentpoles over mid-major and indie films. How are films supposed to be able to find an audience when the theater does them a disservice? Will this dynamic pricing help the smaller films find an audience? I doubt it. Moves like this are just another reason why families will continue to stay home and watch films on streaming. Tickets already cost an arm and a leg–raising the ticket prices will only continue to damage the industry to the point of no return. The pandemic already sped up the move to a 45-day theatrical window. This is just going to make things worse.