Batman, The: New Era of Movie Ticket Price Hikes

New Era of Movie Ticket Price Hikes

Overseas, the major circuits, including AMC, have employed variable and surge pricing for years; but until now, the tactic hasn’t been used in the U.S.

 

On March 1, AMC Theatres chief Adam Aron revealed during an investor call that the world’s largest circuit was going to employ surge pricing and charge more in North America for tickets to see The Batman.

The surcharge, ranging from $1 to $1.50, will remain in place for 8 days.

AMC isn’t the only chain upping the stakes as the exhibition emerges from the pandemic.

Cinemark Theatres and Regal Cinemas, the country’s two other largest circuits, also experimented with surge pricing for Warner Bros.’ The Batman.

Regal began employing the increases during the December opening weekend of Sony’s behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home, except they didn’t go public with their plans; Aron did.

 

THE BATMAN
John Turturro in THE BATMAN, 2022.

 

Over the March 4-6 weekend, The Batman flew to an impressive $134 million, the second-best opening of the pandemic era behind Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s also director Matt Reeves’ biggest opening to date and is only the second picture since December 2019 to cross $100 million at the box office in its launch.

Overseas, the major circuits, including AMC, have employed variable and surge pricing for years; but until now, it hasn’t been used in the U.S.

Aron changed the conversation by making AMC’s decision public. His chain, like its competitors, can’t talk about any specific pricing plans going forward, per government regulations.

Cinemark’s price increase in North America has ranged from $1 in about two-thirds of its locations, and 50 cents in the rest.

AMC celebrated the results of Batman in a press release issued Monday, noting that the circuit accounted for 29 percent of market share for The Batman, which is higher than normal (the company didn’t say what its average share is). In addition to regular digital screenings, AMC’s haul included grosses from Imax, premium large format, Dolby Cinema and PRIME auditoriums, which already carry a hefty upcharge.

Eight of the top-10-grossing theaters were AMC locations, including the top three — AMC Burbank and New York City’s AMC Lincoln Square and AMC Empire.

At AMC Burbank, a regular ticket for Batman cost $18.49, compared to $16.99 for all other movies.

The price for the film was more at the two AMC New York multiplexes, or $18.99. And it was even higher at AMC Century City, or $19.99, compared to $18.49 for Uncharted.

The increase for Imax and the array of other premium screens also appears to have been in the $1 to $1.50 range, putting a ticket price in the $25-$29 range in top markets such as Los Angeles and New York.

“The Bat-Signal went out at AMCs around the world and did moviegoers ever show up in response to see The Batman at an AMC Theatre,” Aron said. “In fact, it was the third biggest weekend for AMC in more than two full years. We are gratified to see AMC’s U.S. market share of 29% be this high, signaling that millions of guests chose to see this very successful theatrical release with us. And materially leading the way were our premium screens, namely IMAX at AMC, Dolby Cinema at AMC and Prime at AMC.”

Hollywood studio executives say they aren’t outraged, but they are reserving judgment as they await word from exhibitors as to whether the increases hurt traffic in any way, such as in smaller markets.