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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

ticket to gouge

Ticket prices in Manhattan, where I go to the movies, are up to $10.75. Add in service fees for buying tickets in advance online, which is a neccessity if you want to get into an evening show on opening weekend, and often even an afternoon show of a hot film, and you’re talking a cool $12.25. But The New York Times says it’s gonna get worse:

You will pay more for a ticket on the weekends and less on weekdays. You’ll be able to buy a reserved seat in the center of the theater for a few extra dollars. One of these days, you may even have to pay more for a hit movie than for a bomb. The changes are under way, and they are long overdue.

Of course, in many places — like NYC — we’re already paying more for hit films, and I don’t mean in the ticket prices and fees but in the extra time you have to allot to a film: if you have to arrive at the theater an hour before showtime in order to get a decent seat, there’s a cost in that, too.

And then there’s this:

In December, the Ziegfeld theater in New York charged more for the first week of “The Producers.” Another option, [Peter C. Brown of the AMC theater chain] points out, is to mimic the old second-run movie houses and cut the prices of most movies after they have been in theaters for a few weeks.

“It’s a bit of a slippery slope,” he said, “when you start to be someone who would be suggesting that, say, ‘King Kong’ is a product that should be priced differently from ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ or ‘Capote.’ Because ultimately it is art.”

Fair enough. But the next time you’re in an art gallery, check the price tags to see if all the paintings cost the same.

Yeah, but in an art gallery, you get to decide before you buy a painting if it’s worth the asking price. But you can’t tell if a movie is “art” or even just plain entertaining until after you’ve bought your ticket.

Still, The Movies are clearly an industry in crisis and under attack… just like it was when TV arrived on the scene, then cable TV, then the Internet, then DVDs…

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