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David Poland

By David Poland

Premium Pricing For "Exclusive" Movie Showings

The NY Post reports that The Ziegfield will be pumping up their $10.75 ticket price to $12.50 for their one-week exclusive run of The Producers in Manhattan.
I guess the industry has really learned its lesson about the movie ticket price passing $10.
Universal will make about $1 of the increased price. Should they be taking it? Should they give it back to the customer?
I have the sickening feeling that this is an attempt to stick it to consumers at the box office as an experiment in multi-tiered pricing for the future. But pushing the price point envelope for an extra $10,000 (or as little as an extra $5000) seems insane to me. You?

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35 Responses to “Premium Pricing For "Exclusive" Movie Showings”

  1. Blackcloud says:

    You can get DVDs for $12.75.
    Maybe movies will be less front-loaded now, since people will wait a week to avoid the “premium.” Most likely, though, the theatrical-to-DVD window just got a bit smaller.
    I saw “Chicken Little” in 3D, and the tix were more expensive than usual. Matinee tickets were $10.00 (that’s the usual Friday and Saturday night price), and evening shows were $11.00. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I guess it was a glimpse of the future. And I don’t mean the technology.

  2. Eric says:

    Consumers can tell when an industry is trying to squeeze them. Consider the vitriolic response to the record industry, which has suggested multi-tiered pricing in Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
    Charge me more for this week’s new release? Fine, but I’d better be paying less for something that’s been out a month.
    …But it doesn’t work that way. No consumer is stupid enough to believe we’re talking about an even give-and-take. It’s just a sly way to impose incremental price increases, pulled off by an industry that reeks of greed already.

  3. PandaBear says:

    You are going to see a lot of people pass on seeing movies in the theatres and just wait for dvd’s. It’s already starting.

  4. Eric says:

    You’re right, Panda. Decisions like this just breed resentment among the customers.
    The theater making this decision doesn’t understand the value of a happy customer. A happy customer will gladly spend money every week for the rest of his life, as long as he doesn’t think he’s getting screwed.

  5. Mark Ziegler says:

    It is just insulting to consumers. I see a lot of people just going to the big movies. The Kongs, The Star Wars, Spidermans, etc. And they won’t waste their time checking out anything else.

  6. Blackcloud says:

    Is this the theaters’ way of cashing in on the increased front-loading, since most first week revenues go to the studios? Are the studios trying to milk the first week even more?
    I agree with Mark, this isn’t going to affect the Potters and Star Wars of the world. But smaller movies (and most studio movies are smaller in comparison) that need a good first week to stick around past the initial two-week run could really get screwed. Who’s going to be willing to shell out an extra $2 to take a chance on a movie they’re already dubious about?
    Transit agencies factor lost ridership into fare increases. Are the studios/theaters doing something like that here? They know they’ll lose some riders, but they’ll get more from the remainder. Is that it? The two words that come to mind are “diminishing returns.” I see more panic than logic behind this. Depeche Mode sang that “everything counts in large amounts.” But I think Faith No More is more valid here: “smaller and smaller and smaller . . .”

  7. Wrecktum says:

    Chicken Little was more expensive because of the cost of the 3D glasses (plastic polarized, not crappy paper red/blue) and the cost of the theater retrofit, which involved installing a new screen, a new 3D server and 3D polarizer equipment.
    Somehow, I doubt The Producers needs any of this. Bad move, Uni.

  8. Scooba Steve says:

    Disney’s El Capitan theater here in Hollywood has a similar deplorable policy. You can sit in the middle aisles for a few more bucks. It’s very Disney (read: e-ticket) but creates an air of inequality in the audience (at least until the lights go down).
    These little capitalist quirks will probably be confined to the big cities. We’ve always been willing to pay more for less… as long as less is “cool.”
    But again, it’s pretty disgusting.

  9. Hopscotch says:

    I know LA’s The Grove charges more for tickets for Friday – Sunday night screenings. The Arclight does too.
    But there’s a big difference of charging extra for the movie rather than the showtime.

  10. Wrecktum says:

    ^^ First, the El Cap sucks. I’d never go there. Second, their “VIP” policy isn’t much different than some National Amusement theatres. And not only do you get preferred seating a the El Cap, but you get a popcorn and drink too. Not that bad.
    But I’m the guy who spends full price at the Arclight because I don’t care how much I’m paying as long as I’m getting close-to-perfect presentation.

  11. EDouglas says:

    Worth every penny if you consider how much it cost to see those two on Broadway and with the movie, everyone has the best seats in the house!

  12. Blackcloud says:

    Thanks for the explanation on “Chicken Little”, Wrecktum. I had a pass, so didn’t pay full price. I’m glad; the movie wasn’t worth it, though the technology was fab.
    Where I am, Loews charges full price for all Saturday and Sunday shows except the first, and Friday and Saturday night shows are an extra $.50. I think a lot of chains do that. But charging for the movie and not the time would be new, as Hopscotch notes.

  13. joefitz84 says:

    If people keep paying it, they’ll keep upping those prices. And why shouldn’t they?
    But eventually the business will start sagging and all we’re going to get are those huge movies and nothing in between because they just won’t be profitable enough to produce.

  14. Mr. Bloppy says:

    Dave, what do you think of this?
    Tue Dec 13 2005 16:10:46 ET
    Internal projections at UNIVERSAL have KING KONG opening large tonight-tomorrow at the nation’s theaters — but not large enough to catch the year’s biggest open STAR WARS: SITH!
    “It will come in around $110 million domestic,” a top production source with finger’s-crossed tells the DRUDGE REPORT from Los Angeles.
    If reached, the opening would top last month’s HARRY POTTER.
    UNIVERSAL has turned hot with award-darling BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and Spielberg’s MUNICH breaking out over the coming weeks.

  15. Blackcloud says:

    I read that and was left scratching my head. Do they mean $110 million for the 3-day weekend, the 5-day, or Wednesday-to-Friday?

  16. Mr. Bloppy says:

    I think it’s the 5 day. Sounds about right. Not quite as good as Return of the King.

  17. David Poland says:

    I wish them luck. Tracking had them well behind that this weekend.
    Anything less for 5 day should be seen as a dissapointment.
    And no one at Universal is dumb enough to tell that to Drudge… could well be a competitor.
    I really do hope it hits the big number. But sounds like an attempt to overextend expectations.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Boy…to think that I remember back when a $20 million opener was big news…and that was less than ten years ago.

  19. nudel says:

    I would pay a premium to see a first-run film at a theater with a really large screen, stadium seating (that doesn’t squeak), THX sound, NO KIDS–but there’s no sign of anything like that around here.
    Other than that–yeah, I’m one of those civilians who has been to fewer movies this year than ever. I’m only springing for films that absolutely have to be seen on a big screen. If it’s something I really like I’ll even see it multiple times.
    Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

  20. Sanchez says:

    I’m beginning to be that kind of guy who waits for dvd. I used to hate that guy.

  21. nudel says:

    PS, the Kong “girl” trailers did absolutely nothing for this gal. Like some others here, I thought they were parodies along the lines of “The Shining”. Roger Ebert’s review, on the other hand, actually made me consider going to see it.
    Just consider, not definitely decide. Nothing I’ve seen in any of the Kong trailers has made me want to see the film.

  22. Sanchez says:

    The reviews and word of mouth should seal the deal on Kong.

  23. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    That price structuring this is rediculous.
    Several major cinema chains here in Australia have cheap days. Tickets are usually $11 (roughly $8 US) for students such as myself, but on Tuesday’s the price goes down to $6.50 (so around $5 US). For adults it goes from $13.50 to $7.50. Is it any wonder why these days (usually Tuesday for some reason) are almost the most popular, even moreso than Fri and Sat when the movie isnt a big blockbuster.
    You guys have craaazy prices.
    On King Kong, in 5 hours I will have been and seen it and the credits would have rolled (I’m going to a session in an hour or so). I have a feeling I’m gonna need to piss by the two hour mark and i’m gonna be hungry again by the 2 and a half hour mark.

  24. Scooba Steve says:

    In addition to the swell ticket prices Australia also has movies opening on Thursday rather than Friday (that’s about two days ahead of us!). And a few Greater Union chains have the cool “gold class” that gives you a reclining LAY-Z-BOY chair and a waitress serving cocktails. The drawback is that the releases dates Down Under are fickle… you might get Moulin Rouge a couple of weeks before the US release but then you’ll be waiting 3 or 4 months to see a Spielberg film.
    They love their seppos, don’t they, camel?

  25. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    lol, i know! I have a personal vendetta against Australian distributers. We have to wait til Jan 26 for Brokeback, Feb for movies like History of Violence, Capote and Munich, March for Walk The Line… it’s rediculous. The very worst case of US/Australian release dates is when Safe (the Todd Haynes/Julianne Moore movie from 1995) was released here 10 years after (yeah, in 2005!) Or movies like Elephant coming here a year after the US.
    However, we did get King Kong a day before you guys so that was pretty sweet.

  26. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    BTW, for anyone interested, you can check out my extremely rambled throughts over on my blog:

  27. BluStealer says:

    Move to the US. See first run movies. A nice perk. But then again staying Down Under you would save on the 13 dollar tickets. LOL.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    The weather’s nicer there, although they do seem to be having more race riots these days.

  29. Richard Nash says:

    I’d rather take my family to a sporting event for basically a little more money than a movie now. It is going to severely hurt the middle type films as someone has already said. You are going to see a lot more films go right to video/dvd and shorten up the windows on that.

  30. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    lol – Those race riots aren’t even in my state so don’t look at me! They’re all just drunken yobbos. It’s really quite rediculous.
    Not that our Prime Minister is any smarter, mind you.

  31. Josh says:

    The Aussies have some good beer though.

  32. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The Ziegfeld run of “The Producers” is NOT a “one-week exclusive”. This “Oscar Bait” run begins tonight at midnight with shows from 9 AM on every day starting tomorrow. Late show Xmas Eve, 9 AM show Xmas Day — but no late show New Year’s Eve.
    [Source: — where advance tickets are now on sale]

  33. DanYuma says:

    When Francis Coppola was running into money problems with “Apocalypse Now,” he was thinking ahead: maybe, he suggested, they could recoup by charging double price at theaters. In short, this not a new idea. (And not one that in the case of that particular movie one that was executed, although by now it must have made its money back and then some.)
    It’s vaguely amusing that they would try this with “The Producers,” it’s actually so much in line with what the story is about to begin with. More power to em, I guess. I’m not even going to see it on DVD (I hate musicals).

  34. Cadavra says:

    This is sort of history repeating itself: when THE PRODUCERS opened on Broadway, there were select seats available for–brace yourself–$480!! And they sold. Perhaps they’re thinking that in New York, $12.50 is still one-eighth of the price of a ticket to the play–plus you’re still getting four of the original six stars.

  35. LesterFreed says:

    Also getting a much worse show.

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