The Movie Industry’s Master Plan to Pack Houses During the Week

With revenue rising but North American ticket sales dropping, the National Association of Theatre Owners are considering cutting ticket prices to some weekday showings.

With revenue rising but North American ticket sales dropping, the National Association of Theatre Owners is considering cutting ticket prices to some weekday showings.

Film fans may finally get a bit of a break from the ever-increasing cost of going to the movies—well, for at least one day.

On the heels of a Motion Picture Association of America report last week that North American movie attendance was down in 2013 despite a leap in worldwide box-office receipts, the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, John Fithian, floated an idea at the association’s annual meeting during last week’s CinemaCon that could help get more people into movie-house seats: cheaper tickets.

Now, we’re not getting too crazy here: The association, which represents theater owners across the country, would try this plan on just a single weekday, and at that rate in only a single state as a pilot program, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But the effort suggests a bit of thawing in ticket prices, which have risen consistently over the years.

It also suggests that theater owners are thinking hard about getting people into the seats during parts of the week when attendance drops sharply.

“This is something that has worked for years in Latin America and Canada,” Fithian said, according to the publication. “Our capacity is so underused on some days, such as Tuesday, so why not bring more people into the cinema? We are looking aggressively at it.”

In 2004, the average cost of a movie ticket was $6.21; in 2013, it was $8.13, according to MPAA statistics [PDF]. (On the other hand, Fithian noted in comments at the event [PDF] that, compared with four decades ago, ticket prices are rising below the rate of inflation.)

While prices wouldn’t be consistent at participating locations, the plan would require intense industry coordination, The Wall Street Journal reports; if one studio or theater chain chose not to participate, the price plan could cannibalize its business. But Fithian said the deal—which would trim prices throughout the day, not simply during matinee hours—could open the door to audiences who might have stayed home previously.

“There is a portion of the populace who can’t afford to go to the cinema on Friday night,” he said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article cited the MPAA as one of the organizations working on this plan; this was incorrect. We apologize for the error.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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