Discussion: Would You Pay $20 to See a Movie in 3-D?
by Alex Billington
March 30, 2009
Last Friday, in order to write my review, I decided to see Monsters vs Aliens for a second time in digital 3-D at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks. My ticket cost a grand total of $15.50, which is pretty expensive, especially considering I don't often pay for tickets at all. But then I heard from a friend in New York that her individual ticket was $20 total. Jeffrey Katzenberg announced in December that he would charge more to see DreamWorks Animation films in 3-D, but I didn't expect one ticket to cost upwards of $20! Being a 3-D naysayer, I've got to ask: Is it really worth it? Did anyone else pay $20 to see Monsters vs Aliens?
Obviously, the studios and theaters will say it's worth it, as they've made a considerable amount of money. According to Steve Mason on SlashFilm, Monsters vs Aliens ended this weekend with a box office total of $58.2 million, which ends up being the third biggest opening in March. Of that, roughly $25 million was generated specifically from digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D theaters, meaning that the per screen average for 3-D theaters was $11,700 versus only a $4,780 per screen average for 2-D. If you think about the price increase (an extra 1/3 per ticket), the film would have made only $16.6 million in those theaters if they weren't 3-D.
The pricing scheme for the $20 ticket was explained as this: $12 for a normal ticket, $16 for a normal IMAX ticket, plus the 3-D increase makes it $18.50, then a Fandango fee, and it's roughly $20. When I was younger, the price was $7.50, and I'd go to the early bird special to catch the $4.75 showings. Nowadays the normal price has been pushed to $10, but I can't imagine paying double that for a ticket, even if it is in 3-D. Of course, everyone has stories about painful price increases, but I'm wondering how long we'll keep letting Hollywood game us and trick us into paying more because we think it's a "unique experience."
I'll argue that the only way to see movies like Coraline and Monsters vs Alien is in 3-D, but I'm irritated that Katzenberg thinks he can charge more for tickets and get away with it. No one is complaining, and the box office totals are enough proof that this was a good idea and that audiences don't mind. What if 3-D really is the future, and we see at least half of all movies every year in 3-D, will it still be a premium experience? At that point, it's no longer premium, but rather just the norm. We'll have continued to pay $20 for so long, that Hollywood will be comfortable charging that much, or more, for the tickets to every last movie.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe people do like paying $20 if they know they'll get something more out of the experience. And maybe 3-D is enough "more" for them to pay that high price. But if this keeps happening (and not just once or twice a year), I think people will start to get frustrated. My philosophy has always been to charge less but sell more, which is the opposite of Katzenberg. Technically, less people saw Monsters vs Aliens compared to other films that also made $58.2 million. What if they had done a better job marketing, and gotten more people in theaters, at a slightly lower price. They could've made more money, right?
I've made my claim about 3-D and yet Monsters vs Aliens had a stellar weekend. Though, I'm curious how many chose to see this in 3-D. How many of you paid $20 for a ticket? How many paid $15? How many went for 2-D and paid $10 or less? Will a ticket price of $20 be something you'll pay from now on?
Reader Feedback - 54 Comments
The movie I felt, really was not that great...few laughs..but even my Kid (8 years old) was getting bored. I felt the 3D made up for it though, it was amazing!!! I think $20 is a bit out of control though...seriously...thats crazy! I'm in Toronto, Canada and saw it at AMC with the discount card it cost me I think $10:50 for the movie and then the glasses for 3D they charge $2 extra so total $12:50 which I find is just fine.
Rob on Mar 30, 2009
Ticket prices are relative. Just because it's $20 in New York, doesn't mean it's $20 everywhere. Want a cheaper ticket. Move somewhere with a lower cost of living. I saw MVA in 3D this weekend and it was $12.00. That's fine. I'm comfortable paying that. Although I personally wouldn't pay $20 for ANY movie, considering the number of "extras" your friend from New York was paying, it makes sense. Expensive market + IMAX + 3D + Fandango fee. Buy your ticket at the theater and you save $2. See it in on a normal screen, save $4. I don't really have a lot of sympathy for people who do simple economics. If you want more shit, you have to pay more money! Hollywood isn't tricking anyone. People are fooling themselves if they look at gimmicks and conveniences like IMAX, 3D and Fandango and convince themselves "I need this or else I'm not getting the best movie experience!" There's no reason not to go into a movie uneducated. Therefore, there's no reason to feel like you're being ripped off if you come out of a turdburger like MVA disappointed. Go online, read reviews and be a smart consumer.
Tom Brazelton on Mar 30, 2009
No way would I pay 20 dollars for ANY movie, 3D or not.
Atomic Popcorn on Mar 30, 2009
Hollywood may not be tricking anyone but they are definitely tacking advantage. Who else is putting out movies, if you were to go to your theatre and say I am only going to see movies that Hollywood didnt put out....good luck. They are the main option for movies and therefore can control any aspect of it, even the quality of films (as I feel movie quality and expectation has decreased at an exponential rate since 2000) and all we can do is bitch via online forums or movie sites, and nothing will happen. Alex is right, the only way to stop 3D and a 20$ ticket price from being the norm, is by making Jeffrey Katzenberg look stupid. The fact that sales would have only been at 16.6 mill without 3D justifies the belief that Katzenberg is very much aware that he is raking in the dough, and he knows how he did it.
garrett on Mar 30, 2009
I would NEVER pay $20 for a ticket, with attendance at movies up this year by almost 10% companies should be lowering prices a tad to get even more people in the seats. I don't even approve of paying $9.50 for a ticket on a normal night, thats why I wait a week then take advantage of every deal there is, and end up getting in for $5 or less. That is unless its a must see movie, then im there opening night, MVA isn't a must see, I might catch it on dvd.
troy on Mar 30, 2009
Staatz on Mar 30, 2009
Here in AL it's $13. I have a family of five. You do the math. I tried keeping up with 3D movies but it got way too expensive. I think the Center of the earth was the last one I saw.
Papichulo on Mar 30, 2009
I have still yet to see a movie in 3D. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't last too long without my head aching.
-Peter- on Mar 30, 2009
Nope, prices are ridiculous enough. I'd need a free beer with that. or two.
Nick Sears on Mar 30, 2009
I think movies in 3D are a waste of time. Seeing an occasional thing or two pop out at you does not inhance the movie for me at all. As long as dvd releases continue to have non 3D version I will watch the movie.
blackgreensoul on Mar 30, 2009
Alex, I took my daughter to see MvA this weekend and between the tickets, online purchase fee, popcorn, etc. I dropped $30. And it felt like a waste of money because the movie was VERY weak. Couple of chuckles is all it got out of me during the entire thing. Higher prices for 3D might actually make people pay more attention to reviews before dropping their hard-earned money on a movie. Looking forward to "Up" in a few weeks to make up for the disappointment of Monsters vs. Aliens. Vic
ScreenRant.com on Mar 30, 2009
When you think that if you take you, your wife/husband and 2 kids and before they've had their popcorn/drink etc you're paying $80 then no, hell no. Way way too much.
Smiffy1 on Mar 30, 2009
Holy crap. And I thought the $6 that they charge here in florida was getting out of hand. No movie is EVER worth more then $5, the math just doesn't add up. Seriously think about your money to time investment. I can buy a video game for $60 and play it for a good 20 hours before I'm done with it. What do I get for that (crazy!) $10 to watch a two hour movie? And $20 for a technology that's usually 99% cheeseball? "oh look, I'm pointing a spear at you! oh, those rocks are falling towards you! aren't you so immersed!" bleah. I even had to look it up on movietickets.com, but yeah, I normally pay about $4.75 to go watch a movie at the theater. How could your local theater possibly justify double that, or even quadruple that?
tiki god on Mar 30, 2009
When i saw Journy to the center of the earth in 3D it was mainly cause its a new thing and was cool. I think at first people would pay because of the cool factor, but once that wears out they will not. DVDs are released so quickly these days that you can easily wait a few months to get it on Netflix or rent for a few bucks. People will not spend this much money on a movie. It would make going to the movies a luxury.
Craig on Mar 30, 2009
If its a good movie, it will be good in 2D or 3D so no I will not pay that much...
????? on Mar 30, 2009
3D is the new measuring stick for a release it seems. Like you wouldn't waste your time seeing a movie that looks mediocre in 2D, but in 3D...maybe. Though, you have to think, if the movie doesn't look good enough in 2D, why even bother shelling out another $3 or $5 to see it in 3D? This trend of more 3D releases is a gimmick, we know that, but rarely does it make the theatrical experience that much more enjoyable. Of the few I've seen so far this year, the only 3D presentation that enhances the movie is "My Bloody Valentine."
Travis on Mar 30, 2009
Man what is wrong with the industry, if you guys want to start charging $20 per ticket than seriously start filming in IMAX media and make sure that all the sound is up and running at the theatres. Sure there charging $20 a head at the show but your not getting the $20 experience at most of these theatres, there still using projectors its not 100% digital so you loose like 35% quality and your still paying for the high priced ticket. Ive been to many theatres and the digital viewing is better than normal but come on $20?
THERBLIG on Mar 30, 2009
No, I would not pay that much for a ticket.
Chrystal on Mar 30, 2009
I have no problem paying 15 (I live in a smaller city, so no 20 dollar charges here, and I'll always catch matinee when it comes to 3D shows) if the movie is good. I want to see Up, for example, in both 3D and 2D to see whether the 3D is really worth it or if it's just hype. And I'm definitely going to see Avatar in 3D and 2D unless it ends up being a disaster (I hope not) at which point I'd just see it in the first format I chose. So my answer is, if the product is good enough then yes. In the case of Monsters Vs. Alien I've decided that, no, the movie isn't good enough to justify paying that or even paying 10 bucks to see it in 2D.
Timothy on Mar 30, 2009
Only if it was Pixar 3D.
Fuelbot on Mar 30, 2009
I brought my 6 year old nephew to this and he fell asleep with the glasses on and all. I struggled myself to stay awake being part of the 20-30 demographic so my question is who was this made to be marketed to? The answer being they marketed it to people impressed by 3d and apparently it worked more like an amusement park ride than a film. Once the 3d gimmick wears off in the first 15 minutes though the story is just not enough to keep your brain stimulated (even with seizure inducing colors flying at your retinas). I like the premise of this article though because I wonder when it will stop bringing in the "gimmick" demographic and start becoming the expected standard. I predict it will be with Cameron's Avatar because after that gets released and breaks records the digital production companies who churn out the HD cameras such as the Red will begin to miniaturize the technology making it much easier and more affordable to shoot in IMAX.
peloquin on Mar 30, 2009
3D is a terrible gimmick which will cause Disney to lose more money than gain.
B-Han on Mar 30, 2009
I really really hope this whole 3D love affair Hollywood is having right now is just a fad and they realize its not really enhancing the Movie Theater experience one bit. I went to see journey to the center of the earth with some friends to see what the fuss was all about and every single one of us thought it ruined the experience. It was almost too dark so we couldn't see very much and than if you took the glasses off to make it brighter you had the haze on the screen and there was only one part in the whole movie that the 3D really stood out and it was the beginning credits!! So no I HATE 3D I think its gimmicky and not worth the extra money. DEATH TO 3D!!!
Unseen on Mar 30, 2009
$20 no, I don't care if its in 3D or not, why? Simple, 3D still isn't that great to me, no matter what technology they use, the last movie I saw in 3D that used "state of the art" 3D was Beowulf, 1/2 the time the movie didn't "sync" up for me, many times I saw double and when things really shot at you it was obviously out of sync, I saw 2 of alot of things. No way I'd pay more for that. No maybe James Cameron can change my mind about 3D and I am all for giving it a try but that's what really bugs me about 3D, its like a gimmick, it kinda is cool but also kinda takes you OUT of the movie because alot of times it doesn't seem to work right. Honestly most times I'd rather just watch a movie and not have to worry about it not looking right to me. Right now its just me and the wife, $40 for a movie experience pretty much means that's all we do that night, Id rather pay $20 and go out for dinner somewhere, if I had kids, no way in Hell we'd ever even go out to movies if they cost that much.
Richard on Mar 30, 2009
My local multiplex chain was selling tickets at £8.50 for adults (though I got the student price... without asking for it... now that's customer service), which is roughly $11. This was just 3D. I had a look at prices in London for 3D in IMAX and found it to be about $19, that was the most expensive I found. The only other 3D film I've seen is Bolt and that was a lot cheaper for me... in fact I'm certain it was the same price as a normal 2D showing. I'm not a big fan of 3D myself, I feel, rather than "the next big cinematic evolution like sound or colour", it's nothing more than a fad that will die down eventually. Would I pay close to $20 to see a movie in 3D... probably not, not unless I really felt it was worth it.
Joshi on Mar 30, 2009
I don't really care if it's 3D. Think about all these 3D movies: if you don't see it in theaters, and wait for it on DVD, you're not seeing it in 3D, so it's only for people seeing it in theaters. And it doesn't change how good or bad the movie is, so I don't really think it's that great or revolutionary as Katzenberg does. He said that this revolution to 3D is as big as the change from silent films to sound, and I think that's completely ridiculous. I don't see what the big deal about 3D is.
CJ on Mar 30, 2009
Its a sad thing though. The question on any businessman's mind is "How much will they pay?" My friend used to buy a lot of anime (this was before dvd took off) and he would pay upwards of 40 bucks for a 45 minute cartoon. It made no sense to me, but he would pay it. And when they increased the price; he paid it. 15 years ago is when I really started going to the movies on my own, I was a teen, I loved movies, my friends liked them, and tickets were 3.25 for a matinee and 7 for an evening ticket. Now a damn matinee ticket is 10. For 3-D the matinee ticket is like 14 bucks. I have no intention of paying that. If they want to put upwards of 20 where I live I really would not pay it. I'm already at the point where I don't casually watch movies. I wait for movies I really want to see. I used to watch movies when I had the time and a babysitter, but now I refuse. I'm also not willing to buy concessions at the theater like I used to. 7 bucks for a soda is ridiculous.
Due on Maple Street on Mar 30, 2009
Greenville, SC - Adults $12.50 Kids $10.50. Overpriced by local standards. The 3-D was really excellent however the movie was so-so with a few funny moments. By the time popcorn and drinks factored in there was not much change from $70. Regarding Mr. Brazelton's comments: I am an educated consumer, read my reviews, but sometimes, you do it for your kids. I have sat through some "turdburgers" with them because they are kids after all. I also have the right to come out feeling more than a bit cheesed off because Katzenberg has ripped the arse off movie goers.
James Mac on Mar 30, 2009
No. Absolutely not.
Itri on Mar 30, 2009
# 24 That has a lot more to do with the theater you saw it in than 3D. Last thing I saw in 3D was U2 3D in Real D and it was perfect, no double image, no headache, no nothing. So realize your problems have nothing to do with 3D and everything to do with whatever theater you saw it in.
Timothy on Mar 30, 2009
I was going to see it in IMAX 3D for $18. But my friends and I decided against it and saw it for $14 in digital 3D at our local theater instead. If we had gone for IMAX, I don't think it would have been even close to worth it. I don't even think it was even worth $14. Now, if the movie was Coraline in IMAX 3D, I would have gladly paid another $20 to see it again.
crAziemutant on Mar 30, 2009
harrison on Mar 30, 2009
This whole 3-D thing is a joke to me. I went to AMC in the OC on Friday, as I was buying two tickets for the Haunting of Conn. I heard the teller tell the guy next to me that it’s going to be 16 bucks each for the 3-D version of MVA. I laughed and both the teller and the person got mad at me. I tried to explain that a movie shouldn't cost you an extra 4 bucks to enjoy its full capability. As a film major you start noticing trends in the film industry. All I have to say is that the exact same thing is going to happen with 3-D like it did in the 60's. It's going to end because people are going to realize they want quality. Until then, I still refuse to watch a 3-D movie unless its T2 at universal studios or Hunny I shrunk the kids at Disneyland.
MiKeDeEz on Mar 30, 2009
i liked the movie but i would never pay $20 $15 for any movie. I paid $6 matinee. i go to only matinee.
dbamma on Mar 30, 2009
The only movie I would ever pay $20 to see is Avatar. We all know that the 3-D for that will set a new standard forever, as will the CGI. I saw Watchmen 4 times, and plan to go maybe once more. At normal prices that doesn't bother me. At $20 in this economy, no matter the quality of the movie, I can't go more than twice.
Rorschach90 on Mar 30, 2009
No. Even $10 is too much for a movie ticket.
Andreas on Mar 30, 2009
Are there any numbers on how many of the sales were from the Bank of America promotion?
Trevor on Mar 30, 2009
I tried the Bank of America promotion but it was a dud. I got the codes but I couldn't get past the fillout screens. It kept asking me for my phone number even though there wasn't a column to put one in. Waste of time
James Mac on Mar 30, 2009
I think I may have done it for Coraline. and perhaps another movie of that magnitude. but Bolt (while very good) or MVA? hellllll no! I hate paying $10 for tickets normally. its why i go to afternoon showings to pay a normal price of 6 or 8.50.
dave13 on Mar 30, 2009
I'm just answering the article title: No.
Zso on Mar 30, 2009
paid $10 to see this in 3-D at the AMC century city in los angeles, CA and still thought i got jobbed. but that's more telling about the film than anything else. even still, i was not impressed with the 3-D, especially for a project that was initially conceived, developed and produced with the technology in mind. i'm already tired of this whole 3-D nonsense and i've only seen coraline (which was far superior) and MVA. that's the last of it for me until avatar...
money B on Mar 30, 2009
I believe MVA made about $32.6 million TOTAL from all of its 3D showings, Imax and Digital combined
Chris G. on Mar 30, 2009
I would - as long as it's a James Cameron movie.
Blake on Mar 30, 2009
a holographic movie. Not one with fucking 3d glasses
Tehprofit on Mar 30, 2009
Definitely not $20. $15 max. In Torrance, I saw MVA at regular hours (so not matinee but not evening prices) and it was $11 regular, + $4 premium add-on for IMAX 3D. I was sort of pissed becuase their IMAX is BS IMAX, not really that big. Indeed, the Real D 3D theater (FOX theater) next to UCLA on Broxton, I payed something a 2 dollar premium (though it ended up being the same price... $15.) and their screen is gynormous. Torrance selected matinee (Fri, Sat, Sun... LAME) is $6... I think in Westwood it's 8 or 10. Soo... Ideally I want a big Real D theater/screen because the premium is cheaper but I'd want the theater to be in Torrance rather than Westwood becuase normal ticket prices are generally cheaper. (Ha, but I can't seem to find these big RealD screens in only expensive areas... so I'm sort of screwed.) But yeah I'm def. paying that for AVATAR. Better blow our minds!
Tina on Mar 30, 2009
It's like paying $20 for someone to laugh in your face and throw a cup full of piss at you.
DCompose on Mar 30, 2009
skywarp on Mar 30, 2009
I saw it in the newest theater in town on a digital screening, not sure how it could have been but maybe so, either way I've never seen a 3D movie to date that was perfect they all had syncing and or doubling issues ( no matter how small, I pick up all strangeness in the picture I'm really detail oriented and those things bug me) well have to wait and see what happens with Avatar I guess.
Richard on Mar 30, 2009
Katzenberg quoted some interesting stats at Showest today from extensive exit polls they conducted during the weekend. The most thrilling piece of info was that 86% of those that went to see the 2D version of MvA would have seen it in 3D had it been available (either the theater had no 3D screens yet, or MvA in 3D was sold out). 86%. ~$60 million weekend... IN MARCH. Not summer, MARCH. The time is now upon us for you naysayers to have a reality check. Seriously - and look for MvA to have legs too - Russia's second weekend with the movie INCREASED box office. Personal opinion is all well and fine, but audiences are now talking with their wallets and that cannot be ignored by media. It is a fact that audiences will pay for more entertainment and the 3D in MvA was technically magnificent. A must see that you and your kids can think back about and say "I was there when it all started". By the way, I rated MvA a 7 out of 10. Wait until we get a 9 or 10 out of 10 out there (AVATAR?) and THEN we will see box office magic.
Jim Dorey on Mar 31, 2009
Perhaps for Avatar or some other epic. other than that, hell no.
Keith on Mar 31, 2009
It s abit of both if you fell like it worth money you paid to see the film,on the other hand if the films crap you feel cheated out your money and also depends on how long the film is? also the presentaion of the film is very inportant to me.
Allen Reeve on Mar 31, 2009
And I thought $7.50 was to much, $20 for a movie, no way! I haven't payed the extra $2 for a modern 3-D movie yet. Anyone else remember when the glasses were free? Are the new glasses that you get worth the $2? Also, if you wear regular glasses like I do putting those 3-D glasses over them doesn't help much. At least the ones they gave away for the Super Bowl MvA ad.
Moviegimp on Mar 31, 2009
Alex, you and I are best friends when it comes to the DWA bashing...haha. Really we are complete opposites! I do not think it is JKatz's intention to make everyone pay $20 just to see 3-D. A lot has happened including a smaller number of 3-D screens than originally planned. Out of JKatz's hands. He, as the spokesperson, must continue to promote this format to see it succeed, not just for his films but for all studios. He is taking the heat for a large industry problem. $20 is a high number, no one would deny it. But let's understand that with MvA and JKatz's push to have all new DWA films in 3-D, other films like James Cameron's Avatar will be able to succeed further and possibly with more screens added, that $20 ticket will come down in price. Always enjoy your commentary and discussions.
Warren J on Mar 31, 2009
would absolutely pay $100 for james cameron"s avatar and i think when people will see it in 3d they will be amazed by the special effects of the film it"s the one and only film i am looking to watch it in 3d and pay whatever the ticket price may be
joe on Apr 14, 2009
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