Moviegoers Demand Higher Ticket Prices

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Photo: Courtesy of DreamWorks

As everyone pretty much predicted it would, DreamWorks' 3-D cartoon Monsters vs. Aliens topped the box office this weekend, overcoming crappy-ish reviews and earning a not-bad $58.2 million. But here's what Hollywood is really excited about: Even though only 2,080 of the 7,300 screens showing Monsters were equipped for 3-D, those screens accounted for 56 percent of its gross, meaning tons of recession-addled filmgoers happily paid a $3 premium for the privilege of being made motion sick by a silly gimmick.

According to Pali Research, 3-D tickets cost, on average, $3.18 more than regular ones (New York's AMC Loews Lincoln Square is charging a mind-exploding $18.50 for a 3-D pass!). Using some simple algebra, we've determined that hiked prices probably added about $10 million to what would've otherwise been an unspectacular opening (by contrast, in November, DreamWorks' previous animated movie, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, made $63 million in its first weekend without the help of 3-D pricing).

"We really feel this is proof of concept for this new style of 3-D," a DreamWorks spokeswoman tells the Times. Really, though, the takeaway here for movie studios will be that gimmicks totally work and people are still willing to pay higher prices for movie tickets regardless of an impending depression.

Will they ever again let us pay just $12 to see a film projected in two measly dimensions? Maybe not! But nobody who spent $18.50 on a Monsters vs. Aliens ticket over the weekend is allowed to complain when it costs $27 to see Iron Man 2 in Smell-O-Vision next year.

“Monsters vs. Aliens” Opens Huge, Largely Due to Premium-Priced 3-D Screenings [Carpetbagger/NYT]
B.O. Analysis Mar. 29: A 'Monsters vs. Aliens' Invasion [Hollywood.com]
Weekend Report: ‘Monsters,’ ‘Haunting’ Scare Up Big Business [Box Office Mojo]