Friday, January 30, 2009

The Price of a Ticket

Everyone loves a night out on the town, right? Dinner and a movie is the classic date, or even a relaxing evening with friends. I love walking into a theater, smelling the popcorn, walking along the sticky aisles trying to find the best seat available. There’s nothing like seeing a blockbuster movie opening night as the crowd cheers and boos along with you.

So why is the last movie I saw in the full priced theater the most recent Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? The prices. Now, I understand prices vary depending on where you live. Doesn’t everything? I can’t walk into a Target in Illinois and expect to pay the same amount for an item in San Diego. I get the whole ‘cost of living’ thing. Trust me. I probably make more in California than I would in Illinois.

But here’s the thing. Why are movie theater ticket prices almost DOUBLE in San Diego and Los Angeles-larger cities? In talking with a friend yesterday, I found out that her general admission ticket prices were $8 at peak hours (in PA). Other times it’s only $6. To see a movie here in San Diego, CA, you will find general admission tickets are $11.50…PER PERSON. Matinee? $9.00. Imax? $15.00. This made me look up the ticket prices for my old theater in the San Fernando Valley (basically Los Angeles)…$12.00 for general admission.

How do they get away with such inflation? Wouldn’t you think that movies would make more money in the long run if they were cheaper in cities with a larger population? How do teens afford to go with their friends? I know that I would see every movie I was interested in if it was a little less. In fact, I used to! We are seeing the same movie, having the same experience yet paying very different prices.

Can you imagine if books were to do the same? Would people stop buying books if they were almost double the price in larger/more populated areas?

So, do you still go to the theater often and if so, how much are tickets at your local cinema?


Tracy Belsher said...

My situation is a bit different - I see a big price difference, but it's for a valid reason.

Our theatre's ceiling leeks occasionally, the sound comes and goes, and we don't always get the flicks I want to see - but it's a THEATRE! With five whole films to choose from! In a small town, that's pretty good.

Ticket prices have gone up a bit - we're now at 8 bucks a show - in Edmonton it's 12.50. But then, in the city the theatres kick major butt - great seats (cup holders!), sound, food.

So for me the price difference makes sense.

Sasha said...

In Virginia Beach it is 10.00 after 5pm, before 5 pm it is only 5$5. I was in Devner for ALA midwinter last week and saw a movie with some friends and it was 10.50. I think most of the bigger cities with newer theatres you are going to pay a bit more. Now I realize why I don't go to many shows after 5.

Tami Klockau said...


Wow, what a difference between Edmonton and your theaters. I totally get the price difference between old theaters and stadium seating. Luckily, most theaters around us are the nice kind...but man it's too much to go.


Before 5pm is only $5? See, I could do $5. Even our "cheap" theater is like $6 and that's only on Tuesday for certain movies (and it's an older theater).