Should the Price of a Movie Ticket Depend on What You’re Watching?

Speaking at a USC event, Steven Spielberg suggested the future of theatergoing may include tiered pricing

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

At a University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts event on June 12, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (among others) were on hand for the public opening of the school’s new Interactive Media Building, which was partially funded by Lucas’ foundation. The panel on which they spoke was meant to address the future of entertainment—and it’s one that, at least in Spielberg’s view, won’t look a lot like the present.

(MOREAre Movie Trailers Too Long? Theater Owners Think So)

As The Hollywood Reporter recounts, the director told attendees that the industry was headed towards a crisis point, which he speculated could be catalyzed if a series of expensive flops jolted studios.

One of his predictions for what that change might look like? An abandoning of the current single-price system in favor of a variable-price model. Big blockbusters that are dependent on big screens will demand a premium price and stay in theaters longer (much like a Broadway show), while more modestly budgeted movies or films with niche appeal will cost less to see.

(MOREComing to a Theater Near You: Radio Shows)

While the economics of such an approach (tied to supply and demand, and to the amount of money needed to make back the larger costs of mega-budget projects) makes sense, the logistics of implementing a tiered system might be difficult. A spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners told TIME that the industry trade group would not comment on the matter, as they don’t discuss pricing issues.

But such complications don’t seem to faze the directors. The Verge reports that Lucas’ view on the state of the industry is that “it’s a mess” — but that “out of that chaos will come some really amazing things.”

(MORECaloric Controversy: Theater Owners Fight to Keep Popcorn Counts in the Dark)

3 comments
ZimaSanfilippo
ZimaSanfilippo

Studios will end up shooting themselves in the foot with such a system. 25$ for a movie that looks like After Earth? Even less people will show up. People will think twice before paying that much (plus food and drinks) with questionable films branded as blockbusters.

bptexan
bptexan

Meh...it will be on RedBox soon enough.

HeatherTabit
HeatherTabit

That has to be the stupidest thing i have ever heard!!! Tiered pricing for movies makes no sense.. Im sure the makers of After Earth, the Great Gatsby, and Jack the Giant Slayer all thought their big budget movie was going to be a blockbuster hit.. So with this "tiered" idea people would have paid premium price ($25) to watch what ultimatly ends up being a big flop. No thanks!!..  Or pay the lower tiered price ($7) for a low budget 3million dollar movie like "The Purge" that ends up being the surpise box office hit..  People want good movies something original they havent seen before.. the movie industry has no imagination at present and has chosen to recycle/remake older movies because of their lack of imagination...