Caught between rising property prices and the popularity of online streaming services, cinemas are flogging a luxury "experience"by Caspar Salmon / December 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
Disbelief and consternation greeted the revelation this week that the newly refurbished Leicester Square Odeon will be charging as much as £40.75 for a ticket. That’s: forty pounds and seventy-five pence, to go to a cinema, to watch a standard film, with adverts and trailers. A film that might turn out to be bad. Forty quid.
Before we attend to the folly of laying out forty large ones to go the flicks—and to the parlous state of cinema that this development bespeaks—a few clarifications: this price is the top-tier rate for an evening ticket at the weekend, for the best seats in the house. Other price bands for the same screening stretch as far down as… £25.75. That’s right, twenty-five pounds for the cheapest ticket on a Saturday. At off-peak times, £25.75 is the top rate, and the cheapest tickets, in the worst seats way up top, appear to be £10.40—a price that roughly matches the IMAX.
Mary Poppins Returns is now on sale at the newly revamped Odeon Leicester Square, at the bargain price of— HOW MUCH?! pic.twitter.com/OI6Bu6qAcV
— Chris Presswell (@ChrisPresswell) December 4, 2018
Of course, whether you think a tiered pricing system is merited in cinemas is down to you and your guiding system of ethics, but these high prices at peak times certainly raise a number of questions. Principal among these are the varyingly dire states that London and cinema find themselves in at the moment. It may therefore help to pinpoint the forty smacker tickets in the middle of a Venn diagram where a circle marked “obscenely rapacious London” and another circle marked “bruised and limping film industry” intersect. (Netflix, which unlike cinema chains doesn’t have to pay London rental prices, will have cracked open a case or two of Bollinger upon hearing the news.)
How does cinema cope with its current predicament? The creaking pressure that television already exercises over film looks certain to increase over time. Witness the latest brouhaha over the release of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma on Netflix. The movie has been shown on a couple of cinema screens in the capital—and has screened in a number of cinemas worldwide in order to enter into contention for the Oscars—but these runs are restricted before the film hits TVs and laptops. This means that cinemas are unlikely to land much of an audience for their screenings, cutting into their box office drawing power considerably. Cuaron has bemoaned this…