Ever wonder why your ticket to “Young Adult” costs the same as “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”? There’s a reason for that. Maybe even five.
Derek Thompson has some fun with these theories in a recent Atlantic essay. He posits that despite how disparate Hollywood movies can be in terms of quality and production costs, uniform pricing uniformly rules the theatre.
Post-World War II era, uniform pricing took the stage. And thanks to DVDs, piracy and the magic of the World Wide Web, studios and theatres are too gun-shy to pull any moves that would turn off loyal movie-goers (aka the guys who paid to see “Young Adult.” Or Charlize.).
With attendance taking a nosedive year after year, according to the box office monitoring site The Numbers, moving prices seems out of the question.
But wouldn’t it be nice for theatres to come out and say, “Hey, we’re only going to charge you $6 for this low-budget indie, and $12 to see Tom Cruise scale a building in Dubai”? Of course it would, says Thompson, but not so fast. Here are few reasons he thinks that hasn’t happened yet:
Lower prices = more sneaking in. You know everyone would pay $6 for “Young Adult” and then sneak into “Mission Impossible” if they could get away with it. And lower prices might mean that they could.
Prices signify quality. Sadly, a $6 movie doesn’t sound as Oscar-worthy as a $12 one. Although it probably is. Have you seen “Mission Impossible?”
Cutting prices after opening weekend would lower attendance even more. “If people knew that ticket prices would fall after a big opening, many more would wait until the second or third weekend to see it, which would, ironically, destroy the meaning of opening weekends,” writes Thompson. Opening weekends are a cash cow for theatres, and a major predictor of sales.
Check out Thompson’s full article on The Atlantic for the rest of his theories.
Tell us: Do you still visit the movie theatre or have high ticket prices scared you off?