September 25, 2010
When I first moved to Dayton a little over 2 years ago it still cost about $10 for a ticket but the student discount was at least $8 (so you saved 2 bucks!) and you could use the student discount on Friday and Saturday, AND the theater offered a frequent visitor program called star rewards where after you earned so many points at the ticket office and concession stands you would get a free popcorn or a free soda or even a free ticket! (although by far the best movie theater perk ever was at the theaters in Lafayette/West Lafayette Indiana where I used to live that offered a bucket for $10 and then anytime you came to the theater you could get popcorn in the bucket for free! and the bucket lasted 6 months before you had to get a new color and you didn't even have to see a movie to get the free popcorn, you could just go in to the theater with your bucket and they would fill it with popcorn and you could walk right out and go home and eat it - it was amazing) Then of course the theater chain got bought out by another company and everything changed but I digress...
In honor of seeing "You Again" let's go back to when I was in High School, not a particularly great time in my life but we've all been there. When I was in High School tickets to a movie were no more than $6 (granted I grew up in a tiny town just west of the Pennsylvania border up on the Lake in good ole Ohio - I wish I could say I no longer resided in this horrible state but I can't seem to get the heck out of here!) Obviously back then $6 probably seemed like a fortune to go see a movie but hey let's be honest wouldn't you be willing to go back to when movies were $6? Back then the cost of renting a movie was right around $2.50 (I think) and since then it's probably gone up about $1.50 so movie rental prices have risen by a $1.50 and tickets to see a movie in the theater have risen by $5, how is that equal inflation?
So being the loser than I am, I went to the movies on a Friday night, alone, to go see this new flick that just came out today (as I mentioned before I went to see "You Again" starring Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Betty White, Victor Garber, Kristen Chenoweth, the Rock made a cameo as did Patrick Duffy, I mean this movie is loaded full of talented actors!). I went to the last showing which started at 10:20pm but for it being a Friday night I thought there would be a lot of people out. I guess since High School Football has started up it's not the hopping night to be at a movie but still for a movie released today I expected to see more than 6 other people in the theater, besides myself! This lends me to believe that the rest of the country feels the way I do - that $11 is not worth it to see a movie that you can buy for $20 when it's released on DVD and watch it as many times as you want!
Sure some of you will argue that seeing a movie at home on your 32-inch TV doesn't have the same effect as seeing it on the big screen in the theater, and I will agree with you to some extent on that one. Big blockbuster movies like Iron Man or Transformers are movies I'm willing splurge on to see on the big screen with the theater audio but things like comedies and cartoons I'm more hesitant to fork over the dough. Luckily for me, here in Dayton we have a "dollar saver" theater that gets a majority of the movies after they stop making a certain amount of money at the main theaters and at this "dollar saver" theater tickets are only $3! And if you go on Tuesday nights it's only like $1.75! (catch is it's cash only) And to be fair the chain theaters offer a discount on Tuesday nights as well - $6 for a ticket and $6 will get you a small popcorn and soda as well (I'll come back to the cost of concessions later). If it's a movie I want to see I will usually try to wait till it makes its way to the dollar saver to go see it because although you might be out of the loop on the discussions around the water cooler at work, at least you didn't spend enough money to feed 2 people dinner at McDonald's for the cost of just your ticket!
Of course there is the rare occasions when I want to see a movie so bad I can't wait for it to make it's way to the dollar saver or I just REALLY want to see a movie and nothing worth seeing is playing at the dollar theater. Tonight was one of those occasions. I REALLY wanted to see this movie that has been running commercials during my favorite TV shows all week long and starring some of my favorite people - like Kristin Chenoweth! I just couldn't wait to go see it so I decided tonight I would break my rule and go see a movie opening night (which I also dislike doing on certain occasions because sometimes the theater is too crowded - exceptions to this rule also exist of course, I would put up with the crowd for Harry Potter movies and Star Wars and the occasional big name blockbuster but only when I was going to college because you knew the crowd was going to be all college kids and most of the time they all REALLY wanted to see this movie so they didn't cause a ruckus and make the experience suck). Back to the point - it cost me $16 for entertainment tonight! That's insane! After my $11 ticket I spent $5 for a small popcorn (Yes that's correct $5 for a SMALL popcorn), I always bring my own soda to theater with me (always a perk of having a purse to hide things in - one time in college I was able to get in food from Wendy's for 2 people in my purse!) Last night it cost me $13 and I went to a bar had 2 drinks and played to games of bowling! Let's just say I got more for my money last night!
The cost of concessions is almost worse than the cost of a ticket. Five bucks for a small popcorn - that's just plain crazy (but a movie is just not the same without popcorn). But let me break this down for you: $11 for a ticket, $5 for a small popcorn and probably around $4 for a small soda that's $20 and that's only for one person! Imagine if you are on a date it's gonna cost you close to $40 just to go to a freaking movie when you can rent one for $4, get a microwave popcorn tub and 2 20-ounce sodas for $4 and have an $8 evening at home! And I don't even want to think about a family going to see a movie, I mean sure kids tickets are slightly cheaper but they want candy and you have to get a bigger popcorn and more drinks and so you're probably looking at $50-$60 for a family of 4 to go see a movie! And I'm not even going to attempt to calculate the cost of seeing a 3-D movie (this new fad that seems to be the thing EVERY movie is doing, I personally am not a big fan of 3-D, "Avatar" was cool but seriously every movie doesn't have to be in 3-D).
I guess my main concern here is this, during this "great recession" how can we justify paying $20 to a see a movie? I saw a stat at the on the trivia screen before the movie started that said something along the lines of how many more tickets are sold each year to movies vs all sporting events combined and it just got me to thinking about the priorities of the American people. I understand that the people who make movies have to get paid, it's their career and I get that as someone who works for a TV station and wants so desperately to work on a TV show or Movie someday, but is it really fair to charge us that much money to watch the movie? I also understand that a majority of the ticket cost goes to the movie itself and NOT the theater so in order for the theater to make any money they have to get you to buy popcorn and soda at the concession stand but again do they really need to rip us off? I think more people would go to the movies and buy more stuff at the concession stands if they felt it was more reasonably priced.
Since i spent a lot of space on the rant I will end with a little review of the movie "You Again", which I saw this evening.