Coming to a Movie Theater Near You: Higher Ticket Prices

Now, it is my hope that industry professionals don’t read this and think I’m trying to shake up your world. This is just a letter to all of those people out there that think life should be fair and easy. Life is a bit different than that, especially since James Cameron decided to take us to Pandora. Since Avatar sunk the Titanic, everyone has been talking about box-office records, inflation, that scene from Teen Wolf, and 3-D glasses. It seems that everyone wants to make the argument that Avatar wouldn’t be such a big blue cash cow if it weren’t for those pesky plastic glasses. Even further, the film shouldn’t be considered record-breaking because the extra charge for 3-D creates an inflation effect on ticket pricing. So here is a bit of news that I dug up: The ticket price costs exactly what you are willing to pay. So get ready moviegoers, you might be paying a few extra dollars for your movies for a long time to come.

For the record, my headquarters is near Cleveland, Ohio. Joke if you need to, but I’m moving right along. Here in Cleveland, much like most of the Midwest, ticket prices are about $6 for a matinee and $9 in the evening. Ever since 3-D made a comeback, those tickets have been $12. So for the sake of my argument, I will be using those numbers. I keep hearing these arguments that you have to consider Avatar an exception due to “inflation.” And it’s preposterous to compare the film to Gone With the Wind, which has been rumored to have originally appeared on stone tablets, because several hundred adjustments to ticket prices have occurred. I can’t argue with that perspective because in today’s economy, Gone With the Wind would have made a lot of money. Now what I am having a problem with though, is that people are saying that Avatar should be penalized because you have to pay $3 extra for crappy glasses. Newsflash here though, it is only $3 extra because that is exactly what you paid to see the film in that way.

3-D has been considered a gimmick in the past, but is now quickly becoming a regular part of the movie-going experience. I remember sitting with Jeffery Katzenberg and listening to his crazy fantasy about a dozen or more 3-D films per year, per studio. He talked about people owning “movie glasses” the same way that people have driving gloves or running shoes. This all sounded like the ramblings of a madman, because this was before the improvements in the 3-D technology. I think Dreamworks really paved the way with Monsters Vs. Aliens. The film was truly under appreciated in my mind, not only for its own merits as a film…but also in the realm of trailblazing 3-D. Remember that Superbowl Ad? That was just last year folks. Monsters Vs. Aliens delivered 3-D back into our consciousness. So here is the point, 3-D is a luxury. You don’t have to see it in 3-D, you could just as easily go spend $3 less and see it in that boring old dinosaur 2-D stuff. So in my mind, it doesn’t matter if the film was only $3 extra, or double the normal admission fee. If people are willing to pay the price for that experience, then the film deserves every dollar that lands in the pot.

So now that 3-D is becoming a regular thing, especially with the news that Warner Brothers is joining in on the action, what can you expect? Mr. Katzenberg wasn’t so crazy. You will be going to see probably 50% more 3-D films this year. So expect to be paying at least $3 more for each one of those awesome (Tron Legacy) movies. So how about those glasses that Katzenberg spoke of? I had a conversation with Peter Sciretta from /Film right after we spoke to Katzenberg. Pete said that there is no way that people would be paying $50 for a pair of 3-D glasses. So I threw this situation at him: You walk into a theater and you see a sign advertising “Limited Edition Transformers 3 – Optimus Prime 3-D glasses: $50″. So what did Pete say? He just laughed and said that I probably had a point. Now here is the moral of the story. If someone has something that someone wants, a price can be set. If anyone is willing to pay that price, then it is a fair price. So far 61 million people have found these prices to be fair, so expect the inevitable. These new ticket prices may not just be a 3-D thing, because on the eve of 3-D becoming the next big thing… these ticket prices could become an everyday thing.

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