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Wait, what?!

Sony to stop paying for movie theater 3D glasses, theater owners fire back

Am I alone in this?  Am I the only one who read this article and focused on something completely different?  Because for me, I’m more focused on the fact that Sony and other companies have been paying for the 3D glasses the whole time while the theater has been charging me a $3 or more “3D Experience Fee”.  I’ve been paying that fee believing that the cost was for those stupid glasses.

Look, I know 3D tech costs more, and theaters probably have had to upgrade their systems.  Newer technology costs more.  Shocker, I know.  Theaters get absolutely no sympathy from me whatsoever on this.  You want to bring people in to the theater?  Upgrade your stuff.  Oh, you say enough people aren’t going to see movies?  Lower your freaking prices.

You know why I don’t go to see more movies in the theater?  It’s because it’s dumb.  For the cost of me and one other person, I could buy the movie.  I would get to own it and watch it whenever I wanted in the privacy of my own home, or I could take to somebody else’s house and watch it there with them.  But you say, “Wait!  There are discount ticket prices, you can see the movie cheap!”  Really?  OK, I guess that’s true, in a sense.  If you read all the fine print.  Here is AMC’s (our local place) current ticket pricing:

Shows before 6pm Monday – Thursday: $5.00

Adults/Seniors: $5.00
Children (Ages 2-12): $5.00
Excludes holidays, holiday periods, and weekday film openings

Shows starting 6pm and later Monday – Thursday: $7.50

Adults/Seniors: $7.50
Children (Ages 2-12): $5.00
Excludes holidays, holiday periods, and weekday film openings

Shows starting before 11:55am on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays: $5.00

Adults/Seniors: $5.00
Children (Ages 2-12): $5.00
Includes holidays, holiday periods, and weekday film openings

Shows starting from 12:00pm through 3:55pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays: $7.50

Adults/Seniors: $7.50
Children (Ages 2-12): $5.00
Includes holidays, holiday periods, and weekday film openings

Shows starting 4:00pm and later on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays: $10.00

Additional upcharges for IMAX®, 3D, Fork & Screen and Cinema Suites apply. Excludes Midnight Screenings, Premium Theatres and Alternative Content.

Our movie theater prices are so convoluted you need a chart to figure out what you are paying.  At best, yes, you can see a movie for $5 apiece….unless it’s in 3D, and then it’s $8 apiece.  So let’s go off of 2 standard tickets.  For a regular movie, at best you will be paying $10.  Not too bad.  3D movie?  $16.  Odd, don’t know why it costs that much more.  But say you want to watch the movie on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, when you actually have the time to go to the theater.  Well, then you’ll be paying $20.  Double the price, same movie.  3D?  Oh, well, that’s an experience, so you’ll be paying $26.  And God help you if the movie is in IMAX 3D, because you are going to pay the upcharge for IMAX and 3D, so you’ll be paying $32. Oh, and might I mention that on the weekend the shows you most likely want to watch don’t start until after 12 p.m., so you have to pay more?  Funny, that.

I’m not sure you want to get me started on concession pricing.  Why people still pay those prices, I don’t know.

It used to be the case that going to the theater was really an experience, and the cost to see the movie was generally clear and straightforward: matinee one price, everything else another.  Kids may get a discount.  You still got hosed on concession pricing, but at least you could justify the ticket prices.  You were seeing a movie long before you could own it.  The setup in the theater was greatly better than what most people had at home.  Everybody went to the movies.

Now?  Taking X-Men: First Class as an example, it released in theaters on May 25th.  It’s available now on DVD ($17) and Blu-ray ($25).  Thor?  Released in theaters May 6th, available now on DVD ($16) and Blu-ray ($23).  I could go on and on, but the simple point is once movies are out of theaters it’s only a couple months and it’s out on DVD/Blu-ray, and even the cost of the Blu-ray is only a couple dollars more than the cost of two regular Friday night tickets.

As for the theater setup?  Alright, I’ll grant that a lot of people don’t have the setup at home, but it’s far from out-of-reach like it was before.  It used to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to get that equipment at home.  Now, you can spend a couple thousand and have a setup most people would think was “theater quality” (add another $500-$1,000 for 3D).  In fact, given the setup I’ve seen at some theaters the movie can look better at home.  Of course, given how some people act in theaters, I might have a betterexperience” watching the movie on a 12″ screen than in the theaters.

And as for “everybody went to the movies”….. well, that’s just not true anymore.  I’m genuinely interested when one of my friends says they went to the theater, because it probably meant that they really wanted to see the movie.   I don’t think it’s just me getting older, I think it’s just the forces of high theater prices combined with the advent of Netflix (or Qwikster, or whatever they want to be called) and other services.

So yeah.  I’m done. End rant.