Regal Cinemas is considering trying out a demand-based pricing structure. We don't know much about it yet, other than that it would have people pay more for big-ticket hit movies and less for flops / smaller films. Which sounds like it could be a pretty terrible idea for everyone.
Apparently, Regal is trying to increase the amount of people willing to put on pants, turn off Netflix, and leave the house to see a movie. The problem is that we're just not as willing to do that these days for a movie which might not be any good. Why leave the house for an OK movie when we could watch a brand-new, never-before-seen film on our living room couch for a fraction of the cost?
Regal hopes that the allure of low-cost tickets will solve this problem. But will it? Are people actually going to want to put on pants to watch a terrible movie, even if it's $5? Maybe they're banking on the "ironic" moviegoers, who enjoy watching awful movies in a masochistic fashion. But even if this plan does work, there are a couple of pretty dire consequences. One is that in trying to lower prices and increase consumption of sucky movies, it will make film execs think we liked watching those sucky movies. The reality is we just wanted to pay $5 to sit in a dark, air-conditioned room. But when they see that The Snowman is selling a ton of $5 tickets, they'll just keep giving us The Snowman until we die.
Also, reading about the demand-based pricing structure made me picture a dystopian society in which only rich people can afford to go to movies. A society where a small dirt-covered orphan in a newsboy cap stands outside of a movie theater yelling, "Please, sir, may I have some more Chris Hemsworth?" Meanwhile, a fat man in a zoot suit laughs. This poor disheveled boy can obviously only afford to watch The Snowman -- the cheapest, least-desirable movie in the world.
The problem is that movie tickets are already super expensive. The information released by Regal so far doesn't indicate whether they're thinking about raising prices from the baseline ticket cost on more popular movies, but that seems like it would be something that goes along with the demand base pricing model they're suggesting. Imagine if it cost $30 to see Avengers: Infinity War, and someone had three kids to take to it. That would be a $120 family outing, which is extremely cost-prohibitive for a low-income family.
One of the many great things about movies is that they've always been made for the masses. If this demand-based pricing structure were poorly implemented, that would no longer be true, and something wonderful about the moviegoing experience would be completely removed from our culture. Good movies would become a thing only the rich can afford to see, and the rest of us would be left with our greasy faces pressed to the door of the theater, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Hemsworth, any Hemsworth. Even Luke.
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