Movie theaters have been among the hardest businesses hit over the past couple of years. Film making halted during the pandemic, new releases moved to streaming platforms, and most theaters were forced to close for an extended period of time.
Even once lockdown mandates eased, crowds at local cinemas remained down as many hesitated to confine themselves in a closed room with dozens of other strangers for an extended period of time, and as it increasingly became more convenient and affordable to simply consume movies at home.
According to The New York Times, this isn’t a left field development either. They report, “Moviegoing has been on a decline for decades as TV, then VHS and DVDs, and now streaming have allowed people to consume movies in new ways. In fact, the total number of movie admissions in the U.S. had barely budged between 1995 and 2019, whereas the population had increased by 23 percent.”
So all of that to say, it’s probably time for a new business model. The cheese has moved and the theaters need to find new ways to bring in revenue if they want to survive in the new era.
And to that end, one of the nation’s largest chains of movie theaters, AMC, recently announced a new pricing model for its seats.
According to a press release, the new three-tiered seating system includes “value sightline, standard sightline, and preferred sightline sections.”
“Standard Sightline seats are the most common in auditoriums and are available for the traditional cost of a ticket; Value Sightline seats are primarily in the front row of the auditorium and are available at a lower price than Standard Sightline seats; Preferred Sightline seats are typically in the middle of the auditorium and cost slightly more than Standard Sightline seats,” the release explained.
This seems like a common sense move, and it’s in keeping with how seating is sold at virtually every other entertainment venue, from Broadway, to sporting arenas, to concerts. But the reaction to this news was absolutely unhinged.
The movie theater is and always has been a sacred democratic space for all and this new initiative by @AMCTheatres would essentially penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) February 6, 2023
Actor Elijah Woods, best known for his portrayal of a hobbit in Lord of the Rings, took to Twitter to express a completely economically-detached take on the matter. First, to call a movie theater a sacred and democratic space is kind of laughable. Theaters are actually the space where you have to question whether or not the couple behind you is actively engaging in intercourse and where your shoes stick to the ground from other people’s leftover food. This is hardly hollow ground, come down Frodo.
Secondarily, this move does not “penalize” low income earners. It actually ensures they’ll continue to be able to access this experience in the first place. If theaters want to keep their doors open, they have to make more money. By allowing people who can afford to pay more to do so by offering them a higher end experience, theaters can keep their doors open, and offer lower prices for other tickets to those who can only pay the bare minimum.
But Elijah’s was hardly the only unhinged take to this news.
NPR and PBS correspondent Ian Saint said, “I’m also thinking about the exhausted low-wage employees who will be tasked with trying to enforce this new tier-priced seat assignment policy.” And others labeled the move an example of “corporate greed.”
I’m sorry, what else do movie theater employees have to do other than scan a ticket, sell some popcorn, and direct people to their seats? Doesn’t sound like a tall order whatsoever. Furthermore, assigned seating has already been in place in many theaters for some time since many began offering wait service, food delivery, and reclining chairs. This is hardly some radical development.
And newsflash, for the umpteenth time, corporations have to focus on turning profits to stay afloat. It is literally their only prerogative. Waxing poetic about how bad it is for companies to prioritize making money has to be one of the most broken brain takes available, and yet it is increasingly the catch all target for the Left’s woes.
Whether or not this move will be enough to save AMC’s business model remains to be seen. But they are doing exactly what good businesses should do when the economic climate changes. Rather than ask for handouts, special regulations to block competition, or other crony government intervention measures we so often see companies seek when they fall on hard times, AMC is trying to innovate and find new ways to deliver their product. For that they should be applauded.