With 3D and internet television the next gizmo in home entertainment, I suppose it is inevitable when a multiplex re-fits, it goes were TV sets can’t – installing 20 metres high Imax screens.
This has been the direction taken by my local Odeon cinema in Swiss Cottage, an area in north-west London nowhere near as quaint as the name might imply.
The cinema has had a £3 million overhaul and makes a welcome return tomorrow after a three month face-lift.
Looking at ticket prices seniors such as I don’t come off too badly at £7 off-peak, £ 8-50 evenings and weekends (£10.75 for ‘adults’).
This is still too much but compares favourably with a nearby art-house cinema, the Belsize Park Everyman, which charges £13 a seat; it’s only concession is to knock £3 off the ticket price for weekday matinees.
Back at the Odeon I’m grateful not to have to purchase family tickets any more. Two adults and two children or one adult and three children come in at £34 peak times – before soft drinks and sweets. I won’t even mention the cost of the ‘posh’ seats.
You add £6.40 for a movie in 3D to a family ticket; £16 if it’s in the Imax format.
The strain for household budgets is that many 3D and, I assume, Imax movies are made for the family market.
When I was growing up cartoon cinemas catered for children. Programmes weren’t all Donald Duck and Mr Magoo. There would be adventure serials and sometimes news pieces aimed at kids.
Tickets prices were rock bottom and when I graduated to more grown up fare, admission costs – even adjusted for inflation – were still much cheaper than they are now.
I’m not up to speed with cinema economics but the fall in bums-on-seats over the years only explains in part why the cost of going to the cinema is so expensive today.
Hollywood stars are said to be tightening belts. Technical advances both in movie making and distribution should be acting, at least, as a brake on rising prices but it doesn’t appear to be the case.
It’s no wonder so many sequels and comic book franchise movies are being made. What was once a pot-luck night out at the flicks has become such a heavy investment, cinema goers cannot afford to take a chance on their choice of movie.
They are forced to play safe. It’s not a healthy place for the industry to be; if customers rebel it has only itself to blame. Cut cinema ticket prices now – and they will come.