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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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