AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron might know how to make stock traders on Reddit post emoji of rocket ships, but it doesn’t sound like he’s actually spent that much time in movie theaters. After creating a new tier of ticketing prices for AMC “Sightline,” which continues AMC’s trend of creating theater categories that sound like Nerf brands, Aron said that they’re generously increasing costs to avoid further price increases.
“We are in inflationary times, and inflationary times cause costs to rise,” he said, per Deadline. “Under the pre-Sightline structure of the industry, if we wanted to raise the price in a theater, the only choice we had was to raise the price on all the seats.”
“If we felt the need to raise prices, we might only do it in the most popular seats in an auditorium and actually hold the line and not raise prices on other seats. So, it is a way of increasing the price now, but preventing a price increase later on.”
Of course, AMC has consistently fragmented moviegoing for years, creating nonsense premiums, like “Laser,” “Prime,” and those fake IMAX screens, that made figuring out how to see Avatar such a headache. So now they’re breaking that down even further to avoid charging theatergoers even more in the future. How’s he determining where to increase prices? Easy: “heat maps.”
“I am looking at ‘heat maps’ what seats are booked for a particular movie, and nobody sits in row one,” said the CEO of America’s largest theater chain, who probably could’ve surmised that no one sits in the front row because it’s too goddamn close to the screen. “It could be opening night for Star Wars. Rows three to 18 are booked solid. Row one is empty.” It feels like Aron suddenly realized that sitting in the front row is an unpleasant experience, as anyone who ever showed up a little late to a midnight screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens can attest.
Deadline notes that AMC wants to “channel people into its AMC Stubs loyalty program whose A-list members are not charged extra for ‘premium’ seats.” So if people just paid $24 a month forever, they wouldn’t have to be bothered with tiered pricing, which AMC says they’ll “report back” on. In the meantime, they better get used to paying more to have anything resembling an enjoyable time at the movies.
“We do understand, however, that this is a substantial change to the status quo for U.S. moviegoers. So we will be watching [their reaction] very closely [and] report back to you in future calls what we are seeing in the test. We’re looking forward to this thing working well for our moviegoing public, and for AMC,” he said.
Yeah, it’ll probably work great for AMC. But for a large number of people, going to the movies is too expensive as is. So it remains to be seen whether or not charging regular theatergoers more will help improve the AMC experience.