Open Forum Friday: Would You Pay More to Get the Best Seat at a Movie Theatre?


Movie theatres are constantly looking for new ways to get a few extra dollars out of us, whether it is by upselling concession purchases or by adding value through technologies like 3D, IMAX, D-Box or Dolby Atmos. There is even the recent addition of Superticket packages that include digital downloads of movies and other goodies. But what would happen if they decided to take something that used to be available on a “first-come, first served” basis and decide to slap on a premium fee? Like, say, the seating in the middle of a movie theatre? It’s one thing to add value, but to take something away and charge for it seems potentially problematic.

According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, later this year Cineplex will begin testing the possibility of charging an extra $2-$3 for the seats in the middle rows of the theatre in Canada. (The pilot project will take place at the Varsity Cinema in Toronto.) These sections of the theatre tend to fill up faster because many people believe they offer the best visual and audio experience. While this new approach might help to spread out the seating a little more, people who are adamant about sitting in the middle might feel like they’re being taken advantage of. What do you think? Is the middle really the best place to sit at a movie? Would you pay more to have the best seats in the house or is there just generally too much nickel and diming going on here? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • In Sweden every seat is already numbered and some theatres have bigger seats in the middle which cost a bit extra. So apparently I’m already living in the future :P

  • pcch7

    I already am paying an extra 3-4 dollars for the best seating with more leg room. I also live in Sweden.

    I remember Jay’s always been against asigned seating, but I don’t think his arguments really hold up. People show up late whether they have pre-purchased tickets or not, so there’s no difference there. Also, I have to drive an hour and 10 minutes to get to a good theatre and I always buy my ticket in advance so I know I’ll get one.

  • Lior

    This is not assigned sitting. This is “premium sitting”. I think most of Europe has this thing where the earlier you buy a ticket the better seats you get. You can even choose them online. But charging for the “best seats”? What a stupid idea. Are theaters really that desperate?

  • pcch7

    Yes, we get to choose out of the seats that are available, that’s what I meant to say.

    There’s a special row of seats, row 5 in my theatre, that has more leg room and the back of the seats are adjustable, which in my opinion makes them the best seats. It’d be one thing if they cost twice as much but 3-4 dollars on top of the regular 18-20, that’s worth it for me. Don’t know why you’d think it’s stupid though, you can simply choose any of the other seats if you don’t want it.

  • Lior

    I think inherently there’s something very annoying about charging for something that used to be free for no apparent reason other than greed. What happens if the theater isn’t sold out/full? Then you can’t sit wherever you want? There’s gonna be like an island in the middle of the theater blocked by a rope like they do in film festivals? That’s why i think it’s stupid. And anyway, why does everything have to have this basic inequality between people who pay more and people who pay less? I’m fine with premium theaters like VIP and AVX. But this is different.

  • pcch7

    Well it’s one row.. You could just sit in the row behind and get more or less the same view. Also, if the theatre isn’t sold out and there are empty seats in that row, you could just take a seat there.. No one’s checking for that, not here anyway.

    If they were that greedy they could just up the price 0.5-1 dollar on all the other seats instead, they’d make more money that way.. Personally, I’d prefer if they made all the seats that way even if they cost more, I like to be able to move my legs.

  • Lori Cerny

    I would pay extra only for a seat with a surround-shield which would block any view of surrounding patrons and their gadgets. Oh, and it should have a sound buffer which filters talking, but not laughter or tears.

  • spooksta

    There has been higher cost seating in the UK for years. More for a comfier seat than best position. These better seats are usually the back rows and can be £2-£5 more. Im happy to pay the extra but i just go less now than i used to .

  • John Anthony

    i would pay extra for a throne

  • Niklas

    I’m already confused with 3D, IMAX, ULTRAVX and all these different screenings. At this point I rarely know how much a ticket will cost before I buy it. It will just be another confusing addon that will keep me away from theatres and watch movies at home.

  • UntidyGuy

    I’d rather sit on the side with nobody sitting and talking behind me. Also, I’d pay extra for a theater employee to keep people from using their smartphones.

  • Brittany Gresang

    Ugh. A first class section? No thank you. Stop trying to alienate people.

  • Loren

    There are two theaters near me that have every seat as power leather recliners. No extra charge and you pick your seats out. Matinee shows are $5 and Regular $7.50. That is for second week shows.. First week run are $9 and $11.50. Power reclining is nice, they also have that Coke machine that you can dispense 200 different flavors.

  • rusinchicago

    its part of a bigger trend I find disturbing. what is most valued these days? time. everywhere people are paying to save time: amusement parks, concerts, theaters, government offices. as it grows it continues to be public display of the “haves” and “have nots”. it will grow and create more tension and animosity, continue to fray the social fabric, driving people away from each other, making communities less pleasant.

  • James Quall

    The middle is actually not the best place…seeing as that’s where you see everyone’s smartphones light up.

  • Jr

    No way. I get to the theater early so that I can pick where I want to sit. You snooze, you lose. In fact, they should give discounts to people who are early and not let anyone in if the movie has already started. That’s how it should be.

  • I typically see matinee or Wednesday night shows, so I never have trouble finding a seat I want.

  • Rohan Michael Morbey

    I pay more to get the best seats at the BFI IMAX here in the UK, but that’s an exception.

  • Matt Hook

    The theater the blocks from my house has all couch seating and tickets prices are set at $3. Not much better than that.