In light of a year with a severely lagging box office, and no way to know how to fix it, AMC announced they are accelerating their plan to raise ticket prices with surcharges for comfy seating.
In its rush to make going to a movie theater more like buying a plane ticket, AMC had previously announced that they were upgrading 35% of their theaters with “La-Z-Boy type seats that fully recline” coming with a new premium surcharge aimed at making ticket prices (and the box office) rise back to previous levels.
Careful viewers will note that this isn’t about selling more tickets to a movie, as AMC’s new plush theaters severely reduce capacity. But, since the majority of most movie showtimes aren’t sold out anyways, the new ticket prices will more than offset any reduced overcrowd capacity.
Airlines have taken this tact for years, offering surcharges for the extra 5″ of leg room that the exit rows may have, or offering a completely different ticket price for first class seating. The first class movie going experience was already attempted once here in America when Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas tried making a run over here with $35 tickets, but have since been bought out by iPic Theaters, who now charges a more reasonable $12 ($6.50 savings with a free membership). iPic also already has the plush seat upgrade for $5 ($3.50 additional savings with membership).
Will the new seating that is perfect for napping (and, thus, repeat ticket purchasing, AMC hopes) and new upgraded ticket prices hold out? Or, will these be reduced to normal prices like the iPic? I’m not entirely sure that increasing ticket prices is going to entice people out of their homes where they can see these movies for free in 5 months.
The one thing this does do is further remove the democratic-esque nature of cinema going. One of the benefits of going to the theater is that the ticket prices were generally one price for all, special events and double features excepted. Nobody got in at a different price, unless you used a coupon that you had to wait for 10 days to use. With the new tiers of ticket prices, we’re starting to see the more affluent get catered to, and the riff raff roped off from the same experiences. I just hope that movies won’t be released only as premium experiences in the semi-near future.