I got home from vacation last week to learn that first-run movie tickets here have a top weekend price of $10.
They're still cheaper at certain locations. I searched online last Friday and found Ayrsley Grand selling tickets for $8.50. Ballantyne Village had nonreserved seats at $9.25, and older Regal theaters weren't $10 yet. If I wanted to go Monday through Thursday nights instead, AMC would let me in for $5.
But AMC now wants $10 on weekends at its megaplexes, and Regal's Stonecrest wants $10 on any night, in the midst of a weak economy.
This price seems a bargain when compared with tickets for the Panthers or Bobcats or virtually any rock concert. Yet you can experience the full power of those events only in person. That's true of certain movies – usually ones with sprawling vistas or immense explosions – but many play almost as well on a first-rate home system.
I firmly advocate seeing films in a theater, because I treasure the communal experience and the ability to lose myself in a world beyond my living room. But more and more parents complain to me that they don't want to pay a baby sitter $15 an hour when tickets are also in double digits and concessions cost so much. (Theaters pay bills off concession profits, rather than ticket revenue, so I don't begrudge those as much.)
Exhibitors have picked exactly the wrong moment to cross this line. This is a time to give moviegoers relief, not sting them.