So my wife and I went to the movies last Saturday. We’re of an age that entitles us to senior citizen discounts, and at our local Laemmle Theater I’ve been accustomed to getting change back from a $20 bill for two tickets to spend on refreshments. No longer. Try AMC or Regal/Edwards and it’s even worse.
I read the various entertainment industry trades like Hollywood Reporter and as a subscriber to the L.A. Times I get exposed to their fairly extensive entertainment industry coverage. Often of late I see articles about the decline in box office, along with various theories as to why this is happening.
What I do not see is any discussion of the role that the rise in ticket prices plays in the decline in attendance. And if you ask me, high ticket prices are a top-tier reason for poor attendance. Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie…these and many others like them (and I admire all of the ones I mentioned for their talents) are getting totally outrageous salaries to appear in movies whose ticket prices keep going up and up and up on an elevator with no top floor. Well, I submit the top floor got reached a few years ago and Hollywood has yet to wake up and notice that there’s no longer a still-higher floor in their ticket price skyscraper.
The studios seem to think that as attendance goes down, prices must rise. (They must be following the electrical utilities pricing model in our era of more off-grid supply; people need less, so we have to charge more.) In the very short term it makes sense. But the short term ended a while back. We’re in the future now, and the future of movie box office is starting to look a lot like the sets of Blade Runner 2049. Simply put, the ecology is not sustainable.