I think the film industry is taking lessons from record labels in how to treat the customer. From the Globe and Mail.
Cinema chains drop the curtain on cheap tickets
Tuesday and matinee discounts ending as theatres move to charging one price
By JANE ARMSTRONG
Friday, April 2, 2004 – Page A6
VANCOUVER — Discount Tuesdays at the movies — once among the cheapest of dates in the country — won’t be coming to theatres near you much longer.
Canada’s two largest cinema chains are phasing out discount movie prices in most major cities, ending a 20-year tradition that drew hordes of film lovers into darkened theatres every Tuesday night.
Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. and Famous Players Inc. say the change is part of what they call a plan to “flatten” prices — slightly lowering the price for some adult tickets, but cutting discounts on Tuesdays and for some matinees. Discounts for some seniors and children will also be reduced. Industry analysts say the changes appear to be an attempt to increase revenues to cover rising costs and draw new moviegoers.
At their cheapest, Tuesday prices were as low as $2.50, but in recent years the savings weren’t that significant; $9 compared with the average $12 to $13 range.
Toronto filmmaker Gail Singer said the demise of cheap Tuesdays is the end of an era. “How could you not hate it?” asked Ms. Singer, whose 1991 film Watching Movies examined film-viewing habits. “Maybe those people will stay home and watch TV.”
Ms. Singer said Tuesday-night discounts created an excitement. “It’s full of people. It’s always the best time to go . . . because you have a sense of humanity and you have a sense of the excitement it generates, and that was certainly true of Tuesdays.”
Cheap Tuesday prices started in the mid 1980s as a way to lure audiences to theatres during one of the slowest nights of the week.
Industry analyst Howard Lichtman said the end of cheap Tuesdays isn’t a surprise. Film production and distribution costs have risen dramatically in recent years, while theatre chains have spent billions upgrading movie theatres with improvements to concession stands, seating and sound.
“It’s almost because of people’s love of the movies that they feel they have an inalienable right to see a movie inexpensively,” he said. “Where in reality, the cost of producing and marketing a film has gone up dramatically, coupled with an enhanced experience.”
Compared with other entertainment options, movies are still one of the best deals for under $20, Mr. Lichtman said.
“Your options are to go to a movie, go to a play, go to a basketball game, go to a baseball game,” he said. In the past 10 years, he noted, ticket prices for movies have increased 46 per cent, while professional football and baseball game prices have shot up 90 per cent.
Beginning today, discount Tuesday nights will no longer be offered in Famous Players theatres in Calgary and Vancouver, spokesman Andrew Sherbin said.
From Victoria to Montreal, discounts have already ended. They will continue for now at the chain’s Toronto theatres.
Mr. Sherbin said the chain is looking for other ways to attract new customers.
Cineplex, meanwhile, has eliminated discounts for seniors and children at some theatres in the Vancouver area, charging a flat rate of $8.95. In the past, children and seniors paid $7.95 while adults paid more than $11.