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David Poland

By David Poland

Ticket Prices

I don’t get all these stories about rising ticket prices.
Somewhere in all of them, the actual facts are there. But there is an odd obsession with pushing this story about massive increases in the average price.
There is a massive increase in the additional price for 3D… and an even more massive increase when an IMAX premium is paid in addition.
But a few simple facts.
Going into May, all four of the top grossing films in 2010 were in 3D (Avatar, Alice In Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon, Clash of the Titans). Over $1.2 billion grossed domestically in 2010 between the four of them… or about 1/3 of every theatrical dollar grossed in this country through the first four months of the year.
Again… rough numbers… but say those films had, with IMAX counted, a 25% bump, divided by being a third of the total tickets sold, equal a little over 8%… or about what NATO said was the rise in ticket prices from the year before.
But the flip side of that is that there was probably zero rise in base ticket prices. That is, until this month, when most chains tend to raise their prices by 25 cents, summer in and summer out.
The problem I have with all this noise about it is that it feeds into misconceptions about the future of theatrical… again.
There are 5 or 6 movies coming out in 3D the rest of this summer. Toy Story 3 is clearly The Big One. We’ll see houw The Last Airbender – a late, cheap conversion – plays. I can’t imagine any more than $300m combined domestic in the rest.
In other words, if these films represent $1 billion domestic in a $4 billion summer, average ticket prices should actually go DOWN this summer, even with an actually small price increase in the base price of all films.
Will the hysterics report on that?
Or will they be forced to and then spin it into some kind of negative with a convenient stat like “tickets sold” going down?”
We’ll see.
What I am feeling inside the industry is a well-founded fear that the 3D business is overreaching already and that increasing ticket prices for often unnecessary 3D will soon turn off average moviegoers. This is balanced by a group that wants to change the whole system and hopes to use the misunderstanding of the facts in stories like this “rising ticket prices” thing to push their agenda forward.
Interesting times.

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3 Responses to “Ticket Prices”

  1. movielocke says:

    the thing is, with Avatar, Alice, Clash, and Dragon there was not really a blockbuster alternative to 3D.
    There was no chance for the audience to look at the 3D premium and say 17$ a ticket!!!! and then decide they’d see the other blockbuster as well. I mean if you’re wanting to go see Alice you’re not going to be really happy about being forced to see The Back Up Plan. so they shell out anyway. So here comes may, suddenly consumers have options. They go out to see Shrek4, find out that tickets are now 19$ a ticket and decide instead to see Iron Man or Robin Hood.
    Now this doesn’t really affect Toy Story much, because Pixar is a niche unto themselves, but something like the Airbender movie could very well be hurt by going out in too many 3D theatres vs flat theatres. If all anyone wants to talk about is Inception, Airbender may have all the 3D theatres and have all the theatres playing empty, because honestly, who wants to pay 21$ a ticket to see Airbender?
    by the time we get to october, no one is going to want to pay 25$ a ticket to see Saw MDCLXVIII and I’m sure the cg owls in 3d is going to be an epic flop.
    By the time we get to legit winter blockbusters in 3d it will be interesting to see if people will be willing to pay 27$ a ticket to see Deathly Hallows in 3d or more to see Narnia in 3d. Not to mention tron and yogi bear in 3d ugh.

  2. Triple Option says:

    OK, I know how much you hate to include units sold and can understand there being a fallacy to chart all-time domestic gross based on such, yadda x3, but to do a per ticket charge story and not include units sold makes the outcome seem a bit dubious.
    I think I

  3. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Ticket prices went up across the board in March, which was news where I live. The onslaught of comic book/franchise/game-based/remake/sequel/TV-based movies makes this all the more acute.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon