Renovations to Theaters at a Loss to Consumers


National and local movie theaters are evolving in vast ways.

In the past six months, many U.S. theaters have changed the style of the movie-going experience and raised the prices of tickets as well. New additions, including reclining movie seats, online ticket purchases, and the introduction of MoviePass, seem to attract more customers and allow customers to have easy access to buying tickets to the show of their choice. In reality, these changes are making it difficult for the consumers to easily visit the movie theater.

Bow Tie Cinemas Annapolis Mall 11

One of the downsides to recliner movie seats is the limited number of seats available for the movie showing. In an article written about AMC movie theaters, Shelly Banjo said, “Where two to three rows of seats may have existed in the past, only one will exist now,” which is clearly cutting the number of seats in each theater. The lack of of seating in theaters increases the competition to obtain a “good” seat at the movies, and leads to my next issue of the hassle of purchasing tickets online.

In order to buy the tickets online, the process has become limiting to the consumer. Take Bow Tie Cinemas at the Westfield Annapolis Mall for example. When buying tickets, movie-goers can choose between two websites: Fandango and the Bow Tie Cinemas homepage. Then, they can choose how many tickets to purchase; however, the ticket selection is timed. The ticket buyer has roughly six minutes to select seats in a movie theater with fewer available seats; therefore, this places unnecessary pressure on the consumer.  However, buying tickets online does eliminate the need to arrive early to the theater since bulk online buying secures large parties who arrive together will get to stay together at the theater. These benefits are the only incentive for those who plan before going to the movies, but these changes do eliminate the popular option of impromptu planning as well. Going to the movies before buying the tickets is rarely an option anymore because there just aren’t enough worthy seats left. Personally, I have gone to Bow Tie Cinemas with a few of my friends to go see the movie Truth or Dare thirty minutes before the show, and the only tickets remaining were in the front two rows.

Wikimedia Commons AMC Theater

With these renovations, ticket prices are expected to increase but movie attendance has only changed slightly because carrier companies have started to sell cheaper tickets. One company, MoviePass, created an alliance with most movie theaters in the US and allows customers to pay a monthly fee for movie tickets rather than each time they wish to go. According to Washington Post reporter Sonia Rao, MoviePass is “a service that charges $9.95 a month” and allows you to see one film a day, plus it is “cheaper than a single ticket in most major cities.”  Local movie-goers see that an evening show at Bow Tie Cinemas costs $11.50 for a general admission ticket, and since MoviePass’ monthly fees are roughly two dollars cheaper monthly,  MoviePass is an attractive monthly fee.

Comfortable reclining seats and MoviePass revitalize the movie-going aesthetic compared to watching movies at home. Sudden changes in the appearance and process of movie theaters was necessary due to a record low number in North American moviegoers  in 2014.  With the addition of home theaters and gadgets like Apple TV and Roku, movie theaters were losing popularity.

Movie theaters in the Annapolis area include guaranteed reclining seats, MoviePass, and online ticket purchases. Benefits include comfortable seating and the ability to plan days ahead of going to the movies. To the contrary, the major reforms to the movie theater are simply to attract more customers and therefore generate more revenue, not just for the benefit of the public’s experience. So in the future, would you expect an enormous decline to the theater due to students rather staying comfy at home to watch movies?

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