Before you go getting some silly idea like me believing in some silly idea like love, let me clear this up: this isn’t about the love between a man and a woman, a man and a fine cigar, and a fat kid and his chocolate cake. That’d be too easy. The price of those are heartbreak, oral cancer, and diabetes.
No, this is about a love we all share, everyone of us reading this site and writing for it. This is about a love of cinema and, tragically, the extreme cost of it.
Going to the theater is a great experience. Unless you’re a millionaire, the theater offers a gigantic screen, booming sound, and stadium seating. Watching Transformers on the big screen knocks the robotic pants off of watching it at home no matter how big your Samsung is. All of that is great – but is it worth the astronomical price?
Theater owners are quick to point out that rising ticket prices and outrageous concessions are just their way of actually making a buck and that they have to charge these high prices to offset the rising costs imposed on them by studios. Fair enough? Maybe. But if that is really the case I don’t exactly see how theater chains are helpless, seeing as how movies need to be seen to be profitable and the way to see them theatrically is in the theaters, which studios don’t own or operate themselves. So really, the theater operator should have a significant amount of power in that they have the screens the studios need.
How much does it cost to see a film these days? Here in Los Angeles, Arclight is the premiere theater and one of the most expensive, with a ticket price of around $15. You can catch a matinee for $12.50. That used to be a head above all other ticket prices in the area, though recently they’ve done a fine job of catching up and charging between $10 and $14. Seeing the mediocre Green Hornet in 3D for two set me back something like $32, so that can eat an ass right off the bat.
Here’s the deal: I love seeing movies in the theater, but I’m fucking sick of paying out the dick for it. Movies really came to dominate the American entertainment experience in the early 1900s and never really let up. If you’re not a history buff, that means people were going to see movies during World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Even when money was tight as hell, people would go to the movies to escape – because movies were cheap entertainment. You could see a movie for the price of a loaf of bread – translated today, even if you bought some fancy whole wheat shit, that should be about $6. Why are we paying two or three times that?
Listen, this is capitalism and people are entitled to make a buck, but seriously theater chain operators, fuck you. Fuck you in the ass and fuck you in the wallet. Fuck your six dollar soda and your eight dollar popcorn. Suck that seven dollar hot dog clean. I’m no expert on movie theater economics, but I strongly suspect that prices are a lot higher than they need to be – and we pay it because we love it. Well, maybe not much longer. I love seeing films in the theater, but with streaming movies, video on demand, ever expanding televisions, 3D in the home, and Blu-ray, the theater may soon become obsolete. Unless of course, you make us a deal.
Some nearby theaters offer a $6 ticket on Tuesdays – now that’s a decent start. But the long and short of it is, spending $40 to take a date to the movies with popcorn and soda sends me past my boiling point.