Movie Theaters May Slash Prices To Lure You Back--But Just For One Day

Movie theaters could cut prices at least one day a week, part of an ongoing effort to lure back theater patrons.

Ouch. That's what theater owners are saying after looking at their latest numbers, which are really, really stinky even though they literally made billions of dollars in revenue. As Indiewire explains:

The numbers are in and they're not encouraging. A report yesterday from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) found that domestic movie box office sales rose to $10.9 billion last year — at first glance, that's good news, right?

But not exactly. While ticket sales rose from $10.8 billion the previous year, the increase was due to higher ticket prices rather than more ticket sales. Ticket sales dropped 1.5% last year to 1.34 billion — down from 1.36 billion in 2012. At the same time, the average ticket price jumped to $8.13 last year — up from $7.96 in 2012, according to the MPAA.

We already know that there are just a ton of reasons why people are opting out of the full-blown theater experience—video on demand services, better quality television programming plus all that free porn you can get on your phone now. Not to mention, why go see Benedict Cumberbatch in some crazy movie where they are probably going to show a bunch of other stupid people you don't care about when you could sit at home, looking at gifs of him doing just the sexy parts all night? I mean, don't get me wrong Hollywood. I appreciate that you make these movies so my friends on Tumblr can gif and hashtag them. But I can get Jujubes at the Dollar Store now.

There's also a huge issue with the price of movie tickets. I live in a good ole' fashioned 'Murica town and non-matinee tickets here are about $10 for adults and $7 for kids. That may sound cheap to all you wealthy investors in Bitcoin and whatnot, but it adds up if you're a family on a tight budget. Speaking at CinemaCon, Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners agreed. "There is a portion of the populace who can't afford to go to the cinema on Friday night,"he said.

So now, Fithian said U.S. theaters are eying a discounted Tuesday program in Canada that "works extremely well." He said the program could roll out in one state as soon as this year.

The logic is theater owners could increase their audience numbers by offering a huge discount on a night (like Tuesdays) when attendance is already very low.

"If you can boost attendance and also bring in people who feel like they want to pay a little less to do that, it will be a win-win situation," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst with BoxOffice.com in an interview with US News.

Via US News, NATO does not have an official plan for the weekly discounted ticket option yet:

[B]ut a spokesman confirmed it will be testing the program in a specific state before bringing it nationwide where all theaters would be encouraged to participate. To avoid accusations of price setting however, it would be up to individual theater owners to determine how much to discount tickets.

[....]

Nevertheless, to differentiate moviegoing from the couch-watching experience, theater owners have been pushing toward a more "premium" experience – involving better technology, finer dining options and other perks – and with it, higher priced tickets. And so far the strategy appears to be working, particularly among older moviegoers.

"Premium theaters do well in the minds of those who believe the experience warrants that extra dollar, but not everyone has that extra dollar," says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst with Rentrak, an entertainment industry research firm.

That's all boils down to a matter of tinkering with price points—so what else are theater owners trying to do to get you to stop watching all those Doctor Who episodes on you iPad Friday nights? Oh, you're going to LOVE this.

You know all those shitty, annoying godforsaken commercials and long-ass trailers you don't care about that you have to sit though before you get to the movie you paid all that money to see? Theater owners are aware that you don't want to sit through 20 or 30 minutes of crappy car commercials and trailers for the next Adam Sandler movie. In January, NATO released new guidelines for those spots:

The guidelines, which the trade group said were designed to "maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry's marketing efforts," also call for restricting marketing time for trailers to 150 days prior to the release date of the film, and 120 days for all other in-theater marketing materials. Two exemptions per distributor per year would be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time.

Of course, they are voluntary guidelines, but they do go into effect Oct. 1. So cross your fingers—one day you could get a chance to pay a cheaper price to see a big budget Hollywood film right when it comes out without having to set through 8,000,000 commercials. Or you could just stay home and download the damn thing illegally off the Internet. Not that I would encourage you to do that.

Image via Shutterstock.