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Friday, February 17, 2006

Variable ticket prices at the box office?

The New York Times explores the idea - gaining steam in the theater biz, they say - that different movies should bear different ticket prices. David Leonhardt writes:

    ...You will pay more for a ticket on the weekends and less on weekdays. You'll be able to buy a reserved seat in the center of the theater for a few extra dollars. One of these days, you may even have to pay more for a hit movie than for a bomb. The changes are under way, and they are long overdue.

    The theater industry's attempt to ignore the laws of supply and demand is as good an example of corporate inertia as you will find. For decades, going to the movies was one of the rituals of American life, and competition among theaters revolved mainly around trying to land more hot films than the theater down the street.

    But now theaters face a very different competitive landscape, thanks to DVD's, high-definition TV's, Netflix and TiVo. Family night at the movies, meanwhile, can cost $60. It's no wonder that the share of disposable income spent on moviegoing has fallen a stunning 17 percent in just the last three years.

Leonhardt should have talked to a few studio execs. They hate this idea. No one wants to see their product in the deep-discount rack... especially because a $3 ticket at the box office for a flop, they believe, might somehow influence demand (and not in a good way) for that movie when it's available as a DVD or pay-per-view.