Three major movie-theater chains, encouraged by the success of the 3-D blockbusters Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, are about to substantially increase ticket prices, as of tomorrow. The change in pricing at AMC, Regal, and Cinemark locations will vary, but on average, you can expect an increase of around 20 percent for a 3-D show — which means you’ll pay nearly $20 at theaters like Manhattan’s AMC Loews Kips Bay. Though ticket-price inflation is mainly affecting 3-D features, which some exhibitors apparently felt were underpriced, the cost of 2-D movies will also go up at many theaters (though at a lower percentage).
Despite the success of a few major releases with premium-ticket pricing, this price hike may be a short-sighted move for the theater business. The economy is still in bad shape, and this sort of blatant money-grab runs the risk of alienating filmgoers, and encouraging digital piracy and use of on-demand services for non-outlier films without the event status of pictures like Avatar. Though it certainly makes sense for the film industry to pin their hopes on 3-D technology — as of yet, it’s not something that can be easily duplicated outside of movie theaters — it’s a reasonable assumption that the novelty of the technology will wear out sooner than later, setting studios up for some rather expensive flops as the 3-D-movie market becomes glutted with mediocre pictures.
Clash of the Titans, which opens next weekend, stands to get a short-term boost from the new pricing for 3-D films, but if audiences agree with the bad buzz about its apparently shoddy 3-D conversion, it could be the beginning of a serious backlash.