AMC Has Come Up With a Terrible New Way To Squeeze Money Out of Moviegoers
Three years after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, box office numbers are up, but movie theaters still haven’t quite recovered from the quarantine of 2020. Covid surges are still making moviegoing unsafe, especially for immunocompromised people. Inflation is spiraling while pay stagnates, meaning that people have less disposable income to spend on movie tickets, and the streaming boom means that we have plenty to watch in our own living rooms.
You’d think theaters would respond by making moviegoing more accessible, but no—some, like AMC, are making it even harder.
AMC has announced an initiative called Sightline, which is a new way of sucking money out of its customers. According to Variety, seats in AMC theaters will now be priced differently based on their location in the auditorium. A seat in the front of the theater—you know, where you break your neck to look up a protagonist’s nostrils—will be cheaper than other seats. Seats in the middle of the auditorium, though, will be more expensive.
AMC is currently rolling out Sightline in New York, Chicago, and Kansas City, but they plan to expand it to all their theaters by 2024. Since AMC is the largest theater chain in the U.S., many moviegoers won’t have much choice but to pay Sightline’s prices.
Why making theaters less inviting isn’t the answer
This will date me, but when I was a kid, a movie was a spur-of-the-moment decision you could make on a Saturday evening. Bored? You could see what was playing in the next hour or two, get a ticket at the box office, and wile away a couple of hours in the soft light of the projector.
Now, thanks to high prices and reserved seating, I have to buy $20+ tickets days—or weeks!—in advance. I often have to pay extra for things I don’t want, like 3D glasses or wraparound screens or seats that vibrate or Nicole Kidman telling me how much fun I’m having. Granted, I’m a Marvel fan living in Los Angeles, so I’ve kind of dug my own grave here, but going to the movies still feels prohibitive! Even as an entertainment writer, I just don’t see as many movies as I would if theaters made it cheaper and easier to do.
AMC seems to be trying to recreate the experience of live theater. Theater is wonderful, but I rarely get tickets for it, because much of the time it’s an expensive ordeal. If movies are affordable, then audiences will see more of them. If they’re not affordable, audiences will see fewer. And that’s a situation in which everyone—audiences, filmmakers, and theaters themselves—loses.
(featured image: AMC)
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