At the AMC Universal CityWalk 19 in Los Angeles – the AMC Theaters location that’s closest to where I live – a single ticket to see a non-matinee screening tonight currently costs $17.75 (plus a $1.75 convenience fee for ordering the ticket online, bringing the total to $19.50). Now we’ve learned that AMC is looking into the possibility of charging different prices for different seats within the same theater. Is there any upside here?
We received an e-mail from a reader who’s a member of the AMC Stubs reward program informing us of a survey that AMC Theaters is sending out to some of its members. The survey essentially asks members where they like to sit in the theater and if they’d be willing to pay more or less money for more desirable seats or less desirable seats. The contents of that survey have been confirmed by another person on Twitter:
Just got a survey from AMC. Basically, they’re going to start charging for sitting in different sections of the same theatre screen.
— Disneyland Doc (@DLdocumentary) December 28, 2017
And while that Twitter user may be jumping the gun a bit by assuming AMC is unequivocally going to turn the results of this survey into a new policy, it’s telling that the world’s largest theater chain is searching for outside-the-box ways to potentially charge audiences, even more, money to go to the movies. (The number of overall movie tickets sold in the United States has been on a downward slide for the past two years, which has to be something that haunts your dreams if you’re an AMC executive.)
My first thought was that maybe the theater wants to offer discount prices for seats in the front row in order to attract people who might have otherwise brushed off the idea of going to the movies at all because the prices were too steep. But almost immediately, I realized that AMC isn’t going to leave money on the table here; if this situation does, in fact, come to pass, they’ll almost certainly charge more than the ticket price to sit in prime seats. My guess is the middle of every row will be pricier to offset cheaper seats on the aisles or in the very front.
Seeing a movie in a theater can be magical or godawful, depending on a host of factors. (Seriously, is it STILL too much to ask for them to institute some consequences for cell phone usage?) But it seems to me that theater chains could be innovating new or better ways to actively convince people to spend their time and money at the movies, rather than theorizing about ways to make sure they don’t lose out on any more revenue. Evolve or die, right? As much as we rag on big theaters for their seeming lack of standards, it’d still be a sad day if they died off completely. Here’s hoping they can come up with something a little better than this to stave off extinction.