Posts Tagged ‘Movie Tickets’

A Fair Movie Ticket Price

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Standard
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After taking on opportunity this weekend to view “The Hunger Games”, I wanted to revisit Movie Ticket Prices.  As a 31 year old man who formerly worked a 2nd job at a movie theater for 8 years, I am about as price sensitive to movie ticket prices as one can be without becoming “unfair”.


As an employee of a theater, I used to see every movie I desired (and some I didn’t) for free.  This is my basis for being price sensitive.  Any amount I pay today is painful compared to free.  Another reference point you can see comes from my earlier post on ticket inflation.

Keeping in mind that inflation for federal minimum wage, the 1965 dollar, and the average movie ticket have traditionally been relatively close, I have to look at where things are at this point in time.  First, the caveat.  While “Dollar Inflation” is what I consider “a defined metric” (meaning that the 1965 dollar has a single value in terms of today’s dollar), the minimum wage metric is only for the Federal level.  In states where the minimum wage may be higher, a higher movie ticket price may be warranted.  However, in no state can the minimum wage be lower than the federal, so the reverse is not true.

Current Price

The current average movie ticket price is near $8.00 a ticket  $1.00 over monetary inflation and $0.75 over Federal Minimum Wage.  However, the key here is  average movie ticket price.  Who here can go see a first run movie in a theater for $8.00?  The reality is that Weekend Evening Prices are easily $11.00 for an adult in a smaller market like Denver and can top $17.00 in large cities such as New York.

So, how does the industry only have an average ticket price of $8.00 when it’s gouging it’s most loyal audience during peak times?  I don’t have an answer for you, but I’ll give you some obvious tips.

1) Don’t go during peak times.  Movie theaters generally have tiered pricing for certain days and times.  A matinee discount before 4pm, an early bird 1st show, or a designated weekday.  One chain near me has $6 weekend shows before noon, regardless of release date.  Even better, another chain has two separate theaters, one with a $5 Tuesday, the other with a $5 Sunday…regardless of release date or time of movie.

2) Plan in advance.  Large chains typically will sell movie passes at grocery stores or online for a discount.  In Denver, AMC sells unrestricted Gold Passes for $8.50, so stopping at a Kroger store on the way to the theater will save you $5 for two.

3) Sign up for rewards.  Generally, each chain will have a point accumulation program that rewards you for your spend.  If you go frequently enough anyway, you should sign up for these programs so that you aren’t leaving money on the table.

If nothing else, if the high ticket prices are getting to you, stay at home and rent a movie from Redbox or stream a movie from Netflix.  If the selection isn’t good enough, you can always stream in HD for $5.00 a movie from your cable/satellite provider, Apple, Google, Amazon, Vudu, or some other schmuck and you can pack as many or as few people on your couch as you desire.