Why are movie ticket prices the same?

When you go to the flix, why would the latest Transformers film (probably cost $300 million) cost the same as the latest American Pie knock-off (probably cost $10 million)? Shouldn’t Transformers tix cost $40 each, while AP knock-off tix cost 45 cents?

The first person who says, "What the market will bear, " is a booger-head!! Nyah-nyah-nyah! :stuck_out_tongue:

Different expectations in audience size - if Transformers needs 100 million people to watch it, American Pie only needs 10 million people to make their money back. Bigger blockbusters are made for a wider audience and also a bigger global market. American Pie is probably not targeted to anyone over 30.

Same reason why Spiderman tickets on Broadway are not 10 times the price of The Book of Mormon - the theater is a whole lot bigger, so they get more people per show to watch it.

ETA: Also, what the market will bear. :wink: I as a moviegoer don’t care if the movie cost one million dollars or 500 million - I want to be entertained for two hours. I’m not going to pay a lot more for the same experience. Also, there is a bit of differentiation - there are (at least around here) minor surcharges for longer movies, and 3D tickets also cost a lot more.

But the theaters set the ticket prices, and they’re not paying the cost of making the movie, so that doesn’t seem to work.

I thought that, to some extent at least, the studios got to do that.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

I’d also say that, when making films, studios and producers will be aware of the ticket prices and budget accordingly. They’ll spend 300m on a film if they believe that the extra expense will bring in a big enough audience. Obviously it can work because incredibly expensive films like Titanic and Avatar also broke box office records. Perhaps variable prices would actually undermine this, because it would then be harder to predict how many people are actually going to want to pay to see a film.

Production companies will force theaters to raise prices or they will refuse to give them prints. Production companies will also negotiate high percentages of the opening weekend box-office receipts and/or negotiate package deals, forcing theaters to show a crap movie for a month to get a print of the next blockbuster.

The only time you can charge more than the minimum is when you have people lined up to get in and there aren’t enough seats for them all. Otherwise, you’re just driving down the number of people who will show up and – they must have discovered – losing money.

There’s very few movies that have a greater demand than supply. Most movies, to most people, are just time wasters and not all that important in life. One is as good as another, so long as a friend/relative/guy on the radio claimed that it was a good watch.

It’s because of signaling. Movie prices aren’t just a transaction medium, it also communicates information. A low priced movie is going to signal “this is a crappy movie that nobody wants to see” which turns it into a self fulfilling prophecy. By setting a uniform price, you remove all signals from the market.

I’m going to read however many more replies come in, but this is the last thing I have to say: Economically speaking, $12 (is it more than that?) for a movie ticket is not a good return on my entertainment investment dollar. Did I phrase that correctly? I hate speaking like this. Thanks for the input.

Okay. So?

Like an adult? Using almost big words?

Of the 9 words you used in your response, Bees, “almost” was the largest. Plus your grammar and usage need help.

How are you going to stop me from paying for the cheap movie and going to the expensive movie unless you hire a lot more people to check my ticket stub every time I get a refill or go to the bathroom? I do know people buy a ticket and stay for more than one movie, but I think switching theaters would be a lot more common with different prices.

But the market isn’t setting the price. I’m not talking about the production cost; I’m talking about popularity. From an economic view, it makes no sense that tickets to see The Avengers cost the same as tickets to see Rock of Ages. The higher demand for The Avengers should be reflected in higher ticket prices.

And seriously, you get charged more for longer movies? That’s a new one to me.

This is a good point.

It was so you could understand my post.

Isn’t that kind of like expecting that you’d get charged more for an issue of a particular newspaper or magazine that has some especially exciting news or extremely popular articles than you would for the other issues? Or that playing a wildly popular song on a jukebox (remember jukeboxes?) ought to cost two quarters while other songs cost only one? Or that a cone at the local ice cream parlor ought to be more expensive if it contains more popular flavors?

In all of those cases, I don’t see how it would be worth the seller’s time and effort to fix individual price points for the different individual offerings. What they want is to get you to buy something in their general range of products, and they’re willing to let the less popular options act sort of like loss leaders.

This is partly because different movies aren’t really all that interchangeable: the number of moviegoers you’ll drive away from the theater by putting an extra $5 on the ticket price for the Avengers, say, is greater than the number you’ll attract by lopping $5 off the price for Rock of Ages. People don’t really pick movies according to which one is cheapest. (There’s an economic term for that but I forget what it is. Indifference something?)

Moreover, remember that the theater owner generally has the option of increasing revenue on more popular movies via supply differentials rather than price differentials. The local multiplex has Rock of Ages on only one screen but Avengers on three, for example.

Recall also that more popular movies bring in more revenue not just in ticket sales but in concession sales, which means that discouraging customers from seeing popular movies by raising the price loses you not just the price of their ticket but the price of whatever they would have bought to eat or drink as well.

Edgar Bronfman, when he was in charge of Universal, pushed that idea for a bit, and was soundly crushed, as he richly deserved. A movie studio’s inability to make an entertaining film for a reasonable price has no bearing on my willingness to pay more. I’ve seen brilliant films that cost next to nothing and terrible ones that cost hundreds of millions.

One of my favorite things about movies is that they are one of the most egalitarian art forms, and I’ll fight any move to make them less so. Reserved seating? Screw you! Get your ass to the theater early enough to get the seat you want. Luxury theater? Piss off! The last thing I want to watch a film with a bunch of drunks and a waiter walking in front of me! 3D? Eat me! Pay more to have a worse visual experience?

Nope, the system is perfect as it is.

I’ll go along with this and add: first run? Fuck you! I’ll wait til the movie gets to the cheap theater and pay $1.75 for a ticket. My local El-Cheapo theater may not be as plush as the super premium place with the waiters, but it’s plenty comfortable enough for me.

Seriously? I think movie tickets are one of the best returns on investment for my money.
Where else can I see a $50million, $100million, $200million production for a scant $10?
Compare it to pro sporting event tickets, Broadway show tickets, Cirque du Soleil tickets, concert tickets, etc.

So you’re dismissing a couple hundred years of basic economics and saying there is no law of supply and demand. Everything should just cost the same price because it’s simpler that way.

Hell, even if we ignore every other product out there and just look at movies, the real world doesn’t work this way. 21 Jump Street and Marmaduke were both released on Blu Ray today. According to your theory, they should cost the same price. But somehow the studios missed this and are charging different prices. No doubt, when the public sees that Marmaduke is ten dollars less than 21 Jump Street, they’ll all buy Marmaduke and laugh at the foolishness of the studios.

Out of everything so far, this is the answer that I find easiest to believe.


I didn’t spend $300,000,000 to make the film, so I’m not going to pretend that I did.

I saw a brilliant concert last night (Kate Miller-Hideke) for $10 a ticket, and bought her new CD directly from the artist for an additional $10. I suspect it was so cheap because this particular club, Schuba’s, has a reputation for finding talent early, and record companies and promoters really want to get artists in there. There are plenty of people I’d like to see, but they have priced themselves out of my range, so I have to discover new talent when they are cheap.

Movies, on the other hand, never get too expensive for me to see. By buying “Gold” AMC passes at CostCo, I get first run movies in a really nice theater down to $8 a ticket. That is a pretty decent price for an evening’s entertainment.