If you happen to think that movie ticket prices are way too high nowadays, here’s an interesting proposition that could shake things up a bit. Todd Juenger, a media industry analyst for Bernstein Research, recently took a look at movie ticket pricing and concluded that theatre owners are doing it all wrong. Unlike most other industries, movie ticket prices are fixed and do not take into account the overall demand for the product. Sure, prices can vary based on time of day and day of the week, and they also vary based on whether or not the screening is in 3D, but the price for a movie is generally always the same no matter what movie you are seeing. Why do movie theatres never offer sales or discounts on certain films, particularly if they are performing poorly? Wouldn’t that help fill empty theatres and give thrifty consumers more options?
The L.A. Times recently reported on Juenger’s findings, adding that the idea has been bounced around by some exhibitors in the past but never really caught on. Juenger’s argument is that almost 93% of all theatre seats go unfilled, which makes it the “largest amount of excess capacity of any industry we could find in the free world.” Setting lower ticket prices for less popular movies would fill some of those seats and allow a bomb like Lockout or John Carter to recoup more of its production costs. Unfortunately, movie studios are afraid of the negative connotations that might result from discounting any major new release. In other words, they don’t want to admit that any of their movies might suck.
It’s too bad that pride is getting in the way of a pricing strategy that could ultimately make them more money. I’m sure people would be willing to take a chance on a movie that got poor reviews if the price was lower. The flip side of this is that it would drive up the prices of tickets for massive blockbusters, especially on their opening weekend. That might not go over well with hardcore fans, who could see themselves as victims of the new pricing system. Still, it’s something for theatre owners and movie studios to keep in mind the next time there is a big box office drought. Do you think variable movie ticket pricing is a good idea? Would you be more willing to take a chance on less popular movies at the theatre if they cost less?