EDITORIALS

Sunday Discussion: The $30 Movie Ticket - Would You Pay?

by
March 30, 2008
Source: Variety

Landmark's Living Room Couches

This news initially hit in the middle of last week, but I thought I'd hold onto it to bring up again in our latest Sunday Discussion. On Wednesday, Variety posted a press release announcing the planned construction of at least 50 new Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas. Featuring some very lavish amenities, including nice seats and upscale food, the ticket price is reported to top out at upwards of $30 to $35! After personally experiencing top-notch service at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas and enjoying a flick in The Landmark's "Living Room" couch theaters in LA, I'm wondering whether this price actually seems reasonable or obnoxious? It's time to open up this discussion to all of you!

Village Roadshow is planning to open the first few theaters in suburbs of Chicago and Seattle later this year. "Each complex will sport theaters featuring 40 reclining armchair seats with footrests, digital projection and the capability to screen 2-D and 3-D movies, as well as a lounge and bar serving cocktails and appetizers, a concierge service and valet parking." In addition, you can order custom meals like sushi and other "theater-friendly foods", but it will all cost extra. What they don't mention is what exactly you'll get if you pay $35 for a ticket - especially if it doesn't include food.

The interesting thing with these Village Roadshow theaters is that I think they're missing out on numerous demographics by focusing on only one - the old, rich folks. The theaters are being funded by the "Retirement Systems of Alabama pension fund" and were referred to by the CEO as "what Mercedes is to a Toyota." It's obvious that they think the only people they'll be able to sell this to are "upscale and affluent consumers" (another actual quote), when I do think there are countless other individuals, who I hope voice their opinion below, who would love this experience as well, despite not being affluent. This is key in understanding what moviegoers want in general anyway.

The discussion on the movie theater experience and pricing has been our underlying theme since FS.net began. When asked what would make someone actually go to the movie theater more, the typical response is lower ticket prices. However, I think that's simply a request in comparison to the service that a consumer receives. As in, when they perceive the value to be a lot more, they don't mind spending more money, despite complaining about the high prices currently. So when everyone goes to your typical Regal, Cinemark, or AMC theater, the experience they get is not really worth the $10 ticket. But would they pay $30 if they knew they would get a better experience - that is the question.

I would claim that I think if given the right features and if setup correctly, most people would spend $30 on a movie ticket for particular occasions. I can't see a consumer who goes every week spending $30 for every movie they see. But what I can see is a group of friends spending $30 to see The Dark Knight this summer if it gets you a lot more than the same old crap you get at your local cineplex - whether that be nicer seats or free comic books or something else. What I think it comes down to then is a question of experience and what exactly you get. Do the Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas with reclining armchair seats, cocktails, and valet parking justify the cost? Or is there more you want, too?

Now it's time to ask - would you pay $30 or $35 for a movie ticket if you knew you could get nicer amenities like those that were mentioned as part of the Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas? What features would you like to see? What would make a $30 ticket price actually worth it? Let the discussion begin!

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  • If it means no cell phones, no annoying teens and clean floors... then absolutely I would pay! I'm not too concerned with couch like seats because personally, I don't find them that comfortable... I like the theater seats the way they are now. Also, I never buy any food or drinks when I go to a theater... I'm there to watch and hopefully enjoy the movie, not to stuff my face. I find food very distracting.
  • Max
    I agree with Jeff, if it means peace and quiet during my movie, then definately. Although i'd see alot more movies at my 6 dollar theatre, i wouldnt mind giving away $35 to see Indiana Jones or Iron Man.
  • ยก???
    I personally do not feel anything could justify a 30 dollar ticket, especially if all the money went to the theater as opposed to the actual people involved in making a movie amazing enough for people to justify the high price of silence.
  • Conor
    Seems like a good date idea, but if there's nothing included in the $35 (drink, food) then that seems kind of steep. that's the kind of place I'd like to frequent, but I just couldn't justify frequently blowing that much money for two hours of entertainment.
  • I think $20 would be just right.
  • coyo
    Come on dirty floors, child eating seats, the melodic sounds of babies is what makes theathers so great.
  • Stefanovich
    In San Francisco we now have the Sundance Kabuki theater. The balcony level is reserved seating at $13 bucks a seat; they're paired in sets of two seats with a decent sized table between the two chairs. I'd compare normal theater seating and these seats to the difference of flying coach to first class. You're at least 4ft away from the next couple. The whole section is 21+ and the entrance to it is a full service waited bar; appetizers, cocktails, beer on tap. Drinks are served in really nice glassware and you can bring them into the theater. I saw In Bruges there and had a great experience. $13 bucks seems a lot more reasonable for what sounds like similar amenities. Highly worth checking out if you're in the area.
  • d
    Please. For 30 bucks I can go buy a DVD and a cheap pizza. The couch is in my living room already, and the widescreen and surround sound are plugged in and ready to go.... and you can't beat a pause button. I can see why somebody came up with this idea, as theaters have been losing the battle against the home theater lately, but trying to turn the theater into a rent-able living room is not the way to fix it. Another note just for kicks... I know most couples that would have sex in a theater probably wouldn't pay 30 bucks a seat, but as a former usher I've got to say that giving people a better way to lie down in a darkened theater is a really, really bad idea.
  • Alex, I have been to one of these theaters before where they are open (Australia) and it is the same thing that is openign here. Let me tell you what you get. A big leather chair that reclines and a table. THAT'S IT. Please, FREE comic books for "The Dark Knight"? We went as a special occasion and us eight were the only ones in the theater. A dinner (appetizer, drinks, main course and dessert) was an ADDITIONAL $39! Just a popcorn and drink was $15! Then the wine is really over priced. The screen and sound quality were of a normal theater but really Alex? Say you and 3 other friends see "The Dark Knight" there. Are each of you really going to spend about $50min. if you get the cheapest food? You can go to http://www.villagecinemas.com.au/upload/Document/goldclassMenuDec07.pdf to see the menu prices. It was a somewhat enjoyable experience but it took me out of the movie looking down to eat my food.
  • harrison
    if the meals included(alcaholic drinks and snacks extra prob) then yea i think it would be something people might take advantage of every so often, birthday parties, corporate events or a date. not sure if they should build theaters just for this, maybe take a few screens from each present location and convert them for big name movies ive got a tiny theater chain in my area, 3 locations with 3-5 screens each with tables, really nice big leather recliners and theyve got great food. think it was around 7.50$ a ticket but i havnt been in a while so it has to be atleast 8$ now but then food is extra, and theyve got a good variety of beer. theyre always packed but thats because theres about 75-100 seats per screen but its a great experience id certainly spend the money once in a while to not have to put up with people talking on the phones or yelling at the screen and everything else people do in a dark crowded theater, i really really hate it when people talk while im trying to watch a movie
  • Derek
    I do think that it would have to be a very special occasion to justify paying that much money. Even then, i wouldn't pay more than $20 a ticket.
  • Erin
    "...giving people a better way to lie down in a darkened theater is a really, really bad idea." lol This cracked me up. Very good point.
  • Jamison
    To those who whine about cell phones and children, I must say I am a bit surprised. I go out to the movies about 3 times a month. I cannot remember the last time I heard a cell phone ring or a baby cry while in the movies. I certainly would not pay a $20 premium with no guarantee of getting a good movie going experience. Let us pretend that we all went and paid the $35 for a movie. We are all in a theater filled with leather couches, waiters, a bar, dinnerware, dish ware and flatware. No close you eyes and imagine how loud all that crap would be. Dishes clanking, glasses clinking and flatware smacking the plates. people chatting and laughing because they are drinking alcohol. Yeah I am sure this would be much better than a regular movie theater! It sounds more like a social gathering like the Movie Tavern. You would not go there and find premium silence, sound and image quality. Anyone here who thinks adding all that extra crap in a movie theater will be more quiet than a regular theater has obviously never been to anything like it. prepare for a shock. The other thing to consider is this. Would you be eating and drinking in the dark? If so, then you would be more apt to spill drinks on the couches, floors and other patrons. Imagine how noisy eating in the dark is with dishes and such. If they had light then you would be distracted during the movie by all the ambient light in the theater. You would also have to give up your attention to eat and potentially miss parts of scenes and or dialog you would otherwise need to see or hear to follow the plot. In the end the whole thing sounds like an excuse for people with money to burn and something to prove to do when they are bored. I give these theaters 5 years tops to be open before going bankrupt or changing the business model and offering tickets at competitive prices to other theaters. people with wealth do not go out to the movies every week, they go to best Buy and purchase the movies when they hit the shelves. Time will tell, but mark my words, this is a losing proposition.
  • I wouldn't be hittin' that every weekend, but for a special date or a cool premier - absolutely!
  • Jaybear
    I'm going to go do it at least once for the experience. I'd like to do something like that for special occasions. I can't do it all the time (we go to the movies alot.) I think its reasonable to do once or twice a year. For a birthday gift or a anniversary. We ussually go to the Drive-in by us when its open (I can take my 9 month old and not worry about bothering anyone else.) I think this is a wonderful idea. I'm a movie lover and my experience is always better when I'm comfortable. I think they should build more drive-in's though. I don't think we should let it go extinct.
  • Icarus
    In a word, yes. I can see myself spending that much on a date where I'm trying to impress OR for a special occasion. But I DON'T think that recliners and food are excuses for a $30 ticket. It's just a movie, but now turn that movie into an EVENT, and now I'm interested. For example, if there were events taking place before the movie, or giveaways, or a Q&A with the director or a cast member I would be VERY interested in paying that much for a ticket. I've been to movies on opening night where people were giving out posters and holding costume contests (Harry Potter) and it was FUN. Put together something like that where I could have some fun and then watch the movie. So sure, if I were to go to see Dark Knight, I'd pay $20-30 if it meant I'd hang out for an hour before the movie, and maybe get a sweet movie poster or other Dark Knight swag. Then I'm not paying for a bigger seat or a fancier meal, I'm paying for an EVENT. I'd pay that much for that even the same reason I'd pay that much for a concert ticket. So if you make it an EVENT, then yes, I'd pay.
  • Jaybear
    To # 16. Unfortunately you'd never get anything like that for that price. They'd have to do it for every single showing. Its a regular theatre with tons of shows. Its just not possible. Although in regular theatres they do have tons of events like that. For example right before oscars AMC held a movie event at their theatres. All five movies nominated for best were shown in a row from 11am to 9pm w/ popcorn and soda (AND refills) for 30 dollars (or 35 I don't remember how much my in-laws paid. I couldn't go, I didn't have a babysitter for my son :-/) but anyways they do that every year. Now that is worth the money.
  • Heckle
    I have been to the Landmark Theater here in Denver and they charge $12 and another $2 for VIP. 12 is fine for the theater and it includes free pop and popcorn. Thats reasonable. For the extra $2 you get some person waiting on you until the movie starts. Too bad they cant go and piss for me. Will $30 get rid of all the issues that we all deal with in normal theaters? No....assholes are everywhere.
  • Drewlew
    Somewhat unrelated to the discussion but in response to a comment in the story. Based on a $8 ticket price I'm only going to go to the theater a few times a year to see the movies I really want to see. The rest I'll wait til DVD. Why not low ticket prices on movies after attendance starts to drop on them. I do realize that this might encourage higher initial prices but for the movies I'd want to see I'd pay $15 a ticket. Maybe a bad idea but worth thinking about.
  • craziemutant
    oh man, forget reading what everyone said(sorry, but it's already 19 posts). anyway, i'd pay $30 - $35 if there was some kind of package. i don't mind paying for valet. but if there was like a package of reclining chair, drink, meal, maybe headphones, and some other little stuff. i think i'd pay that much. but seeing how all the food, drinks, and other things are not included. i'll pass. 30 bucks to sit in a reclining chair to watch a movie? no thanks.
  • Dusty
    Well.. they are already in place folks.. and GOING STRONG... . . . BUT.. I have not seen the $30-$35 tickets yet on them. I have seen numerous in the $15-18 range, such as the Rosemont 18 (Muvico) that has loveseats, bar and seperated VIP theatres. And far less pricing at the Drafthouses in Austin, $8.25 and then premium food/drinks at your seat pricing once there. I have seen $35 on a movie for myself, but that was at the Phoenix Legends 14, and after I bought my ticket(~$10), sat at the premium lounge($4-beers) upstairs(21+ over), order an appetizer, walked in with my beer ... and had a blast. Would I spend it on the ticket for a special event? Possibly... Do I see them putting that as the ticket price for the seat? Not with any success Then again, I am looking to open one with a similar concept in Kansas City within the next 24 months... so we will see.
  • CHALE
    I've been going to those kind of theaters for years now. The first open about 7 years ago here in Mexico City. And I tell youin makes a HUGE difference and it is worth the price. All do down here normal theater costs 5dl and the Platinum theaters are 10dl. No phones allowed food and drinks served at your seat. And also you get blancket if you feel cold. I almost always go to the platinum theaters :)
  • Sounds like a new way to get more money from the public viewers.............. I think the stars are making enough and the theaters are making even more on food sales and snacks. $30.00 per person thats a $60.00 doller movie. NO WAY!! Maybe if it was $50.00 per couch and food is free then maybe I would go to it 1 time a year
  • Chris
    I would pay $30 dollars for a movie I have been waiting to see. I couldn't see me doing it ever weeekend. Would like to see The Fall there. Chris
  • Mike Avallone
    Well after finally completing my home theater with comfy theater furniture, 73" HDTV and popcorn machine I no longer go to the movies. It already costs me 30-35 bucks at a regular theater for one movie when you add popcorn and drinks. I'm not about to pay even more when I have all I need in my home theater.
  • Dan
    For $30/ea (60 if you go with someone) I would rather just see the movie in a regular theater during the day and then buy the movie on HD when its released. If your heading to the theater friday/saturday night expecting a adult crowd your doing it wrong. I find that going Sunday afternoon results in people who simply want to see the film. I typically get food at the theater because thats how they pay the bills. If every theater was forced to operated on ticket sales alone we wouldn't have any left.

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