Attn: Movie Theater Owners, or Why I'll Never Pay to See Another Movie in a Movie Theater Again – Part 1

15 Mar

I love movies.  I love entertainment.  Anyone who knows me would vouch for my passion and love for all things film.  I recently went to the local AMC theater with my wife to see a film that I had already seen (and disliked), thus, I knew going in that I wasn’t going to enjoy it that much.  Little did I realize that I would dislike my experience for things other than the spectacle appearing on the giant screen before me.

My wife wanted to see the film in all it’s 3D glory, as she missed it months ago when it initially was released.  Normally, we would go to a screening that we had been invited to on a studio lot, or a designated screening room here in town, or even to one of the many industry Guild screenings that I am privileged to be a member of.  I rarely go to the local cineplex.  There are a number of reasons for my avoiding the megaplexes that currently dot our landscape, most of which I’ve decided to share with you.

Many of you may wonder if it has anything to do with the quality of films being released by Tinseltown today?  While that may be a future blog in and of itself, that will not be one of the topics in this weeks letter.  Nor will the topic of stealing my attention away from the dozens of other entertainment mediums that I’m likely to enjoy be addressed, although, it, like the former, may see the light of day here in the future.  Instead, it was after my experience that I decided to voice my opinion, which I’m sure is shared my many of my readers.  It is time I write of my top 12 Reasons why I’ll…., well…, you can see the title of the post.

Before I begin, let me squash any qualms you may have.  I am not advocating illegally obtaining movies to avoid the theaters.  I am simply going to stay home and get it on DVD or iTunes at a later date if I don’t have an opportunity to see it in my preferred setting. It is why I decided to ‘pen’ my open letter to all the AMC’s, Loew’s, Magic Johnson’s, Pacific’s, Mann’s, Edwards’, United Artists’, Star’s, etc. on why I’ll NEVER pay to see another movie in a movie theater again.

Reason #1:  Parking

There was a time not that long ago where a person could expect to go to a movie and park in the theaters parking lot for free.  After all, the fact that you were going to see a movie meant that you likely were going to spend money on the tickets, some concessions, perhaps stick around for a double feature, and, if the theater were part of a shopping mall, stick around after to spend more money at the many stores located within.  Not anymore.  They attempt to coerce you into believing they are giving you some of it for free, that is, validation.  But they usually only validate for 2 hours.

Let me explain why validation does not work.  Anyone who has been to a movie in the last 15 years knows that you need to arrive to the theater at least 1 hour before showtime in order to get a parking spot, get your tickets, get a half-way decent seat that’s not the front row (unless it’s opening weekend), and browse the many “coming soon” posters lining the theater halls.  Add to that the length of movies.  Give me the name of a movie in recent years that is under 2 hours, and I’ll give you a dozen more from 20 years ago for every one.  Add in the act of getting out.  The crowds.  The walk through the mall to the parking lot.  The wait in line to exit the “pay here” booth.  We now are at 4+ hours.  I now am going to owe the 2+ hours I have gone over.

That has happened to me twice in the last two weeks, at different theaters.  Both times, I had free tickets to the theater.  Both times, I spent $6 and $4.50 to park, respectively.  Both times, my “free” movie was anything but.  You’ll see in a minute how all of my points are tied together.  But to you, Mr. Theater Owner, I say this.  I am not opposed to paying to park.  I’ve done it for most, if not all, of my other entertainment outings.  The difference here is, I am asked to pay a set price to park.

Let’s say I am going to a play, or Disneyland.  I am going to be expected to pay a flat fee to park in the lot for the day.  What I’ll get for that fee is a pleasant parking experience.  I’ll have parking attendants directing me where to park.  I’ll have a walkway, or an escalator close by.  I’ll have the peace of mind knowing that when I exit, I’ll be able to get out of the lot in a timely and efficient manner.  I’ll know that there will be security patrolling the lot (although they still will have the “not responsible” signs posted, natch).  And I’ll know that no other cars will park illegally, especially if I’m in need of a handicap spot, or a spot marked “For Families with Small Children”.  In a word, I’ll know that my money is going to get me services.  So charge me a flat fee, let’s say $2, upon entrance, and provide me with the amenities I’ve already mentioned.  Otherwise, scrap the fee.

Reason #2:  Ticket Prices

Related to the previous reason, I take issue with the current costs of movie tickets.  I did go to a theater recently and purchased a ticket.  The total for one ticket?  $12.  The theater we went to for the free passes was even pricier at $14.  That’s per person.  Not per family.  A quick discussion with the hourly employee behind the ticket counter revealed that there are no Matinee prices, no Student Prices, no “Twilight Specials”, and no “Early Bird” tickets.

I remember “Dollar Tuesdays”, which meant that every Tuesday, the movies at most of the theaters were $1.  That stayed true throughout the years as tickets went from $2.75, to $3.50, to $4.25, and even up to $5.00.

The Matinee prices were usually 2/3 the price of a regular ticket, and were considered to be any film before 4:00pm.

The “Twilight Specials” were any show that fell between a set time, usually 4:00-6:00 pm.  Those tickets were discounted even more than the Matinee prices.

The “Early Bird” specials would be priced lower than any other times, and would be for those films that started before 11am each day.  Which leads me to…

Reason #3: Coming Tomorrow….


Posted by on March 15, 2010 in Movies


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Attn: Movie Theater Owners, or Why I'll Never Pay to See Another Movie in a Movie Theater Again – Part 1

  1. KAL

    March 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Man! You were reading my mind. I hate going to the movies. For the reasons you listed above and many more. I’m sure you will address this in your next entry, but I particularly HATE the rude people who will not shut up during the movie or constantly have their cell phones out. When I’m in a theater there are always a dozen or two lights on that distract from the movie. I know there will always be rude and insensitive people in the public square, but what really upsets me is the fact that the theater operators do not police the theaters and do proper ushering. I simply do NOT want to waste $50 + food to have my family go to the movies anymore. Thanks for blogging about this. You were reading my mind.

  2. Shawn

    March 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Good blog article. You live in the city – it’s obvious. Here in suburbia, we don’t have to pay for parking, and we still get matinee pricing. We even have a $1 theater in the general vicinity.

    On the other hand, it takes us 20 minutes to get to any freeway.

    Oh well.

  3. Jamie Mathews

    March 16, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Wow. I remember the days of living in L.A. and how hard it was to see a movie. Now, I don’t think I would try. Lucky for me and most Americans, its not that bad in smaller cities. Of course, you haven’t gotten around to the other 10 reasons. Can’t wait to read more!

  4. Tom

    March 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Yes Phillip yes! Bring it on. Things are out of control, and shameful.

    To the parking point – welcome to L.A.. Drive a bit more and you’ll get in a validation-free zone, likely.

    Opening weekend is for suckers. Wait until the second week and the 45% dropoff in ticket sales and you’re probably good to go.

    Matinees are cool. Like Shawn says, we round here have a bit of a break in price.

    I too hope you possess an excellent evening

  5. Phil

    March 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Haha. Yeah I know, right? Good ol’ spammers!


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