Luxury movie theaters serve booze and charge $35 a ticket

The movie industry must be getting desperate. Cinemas are trying to find new ways to get people to see movies in the theater rather than waiting for them to come out on DVD. These methods include selling “upscale food and beverages” including alcohol, and adding plush, comfy seats. All of this comes with a price to viewers, however: some of these luxury theaters are charging upwards of $35 per ticket.

cinemablend.jpgGet ready for the $35 movie ticket.

That’s the estimated admission charge for a new deluxe cinema opening in October in South Barrington, one of 50 Gold Class Cinema multiplexes coming from a joint venture headed by Australian conglomerate Village Roadshow.

The theaters will boast boosted amenities, including plush reserved seating, digital projection and sound, and upscale food and beverage offerings with seat-side waiter service. No auditorium will have more than 40 seats.

”It’s an absolutely different environment than anything else that exists,” Village Roadshow CEO Graham Burke said.

[From The Chicago Sun Times]

I beg to differ. There is a place where I can watch a movie in high definition, with my favorite “upscale” foods and beverages, in an intimate setting. It’s called my living room. And I don’t have to pay 35 stinkin’ bucks to go there! Are you kidding me? Yeah, high-end movie theaters sound like a GREAT business to get into, with the economy in the dumper.

I am not the only one who has problems with this concept. State representatives from several areas where these theaters are taking off are saying that serving alcohol at movie theaters is a bad idea.

Movie theater owners from California to Massachusetts are increasingly giving patrons the option of sipping a beer or a glass of wine with an expanding array of snacks.

About 150 first-run theaters serving alcohol have opened within the past three years, bringing the total of such establishments from 14 in 1997 to more than 400 today, says Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners.

The growth is happening, Corcoran says, despite concerns that those theaters could draw underage drinkers — concerns that have kept some theaters in Illinois, Idaho and California from selling alcohol.

“The boyfriend’s 21 and the girlfriend’s 19, and next thing you know, she’s already had three drinks underage,” says Alderman John Hanson, who voted against a proposal last year by a theater in Bloomington, Ill., to serve alcohol.

The increase in alcohol at the movies comes amid a decline in ticket sales in the USA and Canada. About 1.40 billion movie tickets were sold last year — up slightly from 1.395 billion in 2006 but lower than the 1.52 billion in 2003, according to the theater owners’ association.

[From USA Today]

These people are clueless! Here are some sure-fire ways to get people to go to the movies:
1) Make good movies. A couple of weekends ago, my daughters were bored and the only family-appropriate movie we had to choose from was that Raven Symone-Martin Lawrence atrocity, “College Road Trip.” It was painful, folks. I don’t know if alcohol and upscale food would have made the suffering less on that one.

2) Get rid of rude patrons who refuse to STFU during the movie! I’ll tell you this: if I paid $35 to see a movie and the people around me were blabbing nonstop- either with the people next to them or on their cell phones- I might choke someone. If the cinema management would kick out these morons, I might actually start going to the movies again.

3) Get rid of all those annoying commercials! I am willing to deal with 20 minutes of coming attractions, but not commercials. We see those at home on TV every night- we don’t want to sit through them at the movies too!

Photos from Cinemablend and USA Today.


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26 Responses to “Luxury movie theaters serve booze and charge $35 a ticket”

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  1. anna says:

    i just read this in the paper yesterday and it seems stupid.going to the movies is expensive as is but 35 a ticket i say its a waster of money.then if someone is drunk at the movie then the movies ruined

  2. Kevin says:

    Well I must say they sure have some upscale looking employees behind the snack bar in the photo. One is all tatted out and the other has hair a color even God doesnt use. Well I guess you cant work in a biker bar only to pay all your bills. I would agree that the movie industries main problem is their own product. Also with the salary that their douchebag actors command (not all of them), they have to charge an arm and a leg in just a regular theater. You tube puts out more compelling cinema than hollywood. (not always). I would have to say also that independent cinema puts out some very good cinema that never gets seen by the masses. (thats for you guys that think Javier Bardem is someone new).

  3. Toubrouk says:

    I think that this is a good move. With panoramic TV and soon-to-be direct feed movies from the internet, movies theatres (and even DVD!) are slowly becoming obsolete.

    By opening those upscale movies theaters, the company offers a new experience geared towards those who loves movies and can pay for the high-end expense. Those people want the experience, not the movie. If they wanted the movie and are ready to pay for a seating at 35$ the seat, they can easily pay themselves a home theaters set.

    With the drop of interest from the movies goers, the industry is just retooling herself towards a public ready to keep them alive at an higher cost.

    Capitalism at work, folks! 😀

  4. Diva says:

    There’s a FANTASTIC lil theatre in town here that is all couches and big overstuffed chairs and tables… you can order anything from the adjoining bar & restaurant, from a microbrew and tater tots, to wine and gourmet food…. the movies are near the end of their run in regular theatres, but still there…

    tickets to the movies are $3

    Matinees are to be avoided, though, at $3 a ticket, people bring massive numbers of little kids and can’t keep them all quiet! lol

  5. Trillion says:

    My husband and I are huge movie fans. But the high cost of tickets and food and the rudeness of the other movie-goers turns us off from what would normally be one of our favorite activities. (and don’t even get me started on the commercials!!)
    We would welcome a theatre that hired ushers to hold audience to the “no cell phones” rules, etc. and let us drink a damn beer or glass of wine during the movie. Ooh and how ’bout offering child-care on site like they do at some gyms? Then it would be worth the money. The way things are now, we’re practically compelled to (illegally) download current releases and watch them on our big screen chez nous. If theatres got their act together and offered some alternatives, grown-ups might go to the movies more.

  6. geronimo says:

    I agree, the independents are where it’s at. And the reason that the one’s I go to are doing very well is that – big surprise – they’re showing films people want to see. Also great double bills. As a bit of a fascist when it comes to cinema going, eating, drinking and talking should be grounds for immediate ejection.

  7. headache says:

    On site child care?? Leave the kid at home! But I guess that is just me.

    If I could go to a theater that wasn’t packed to the gills, eat something that didn’t give me at minimum a stomach ache from hell, not have to leave in the middle of it to get a refill, the floors weren’t sticky, the seat didn’t smell like ass, the arm rest crammed into my back when I try to snuggle with my man, more space between the seats, no whining kids and cell phones AND I could put my feet where I please, I would pay 35 bucks every now and then but never on a regular basis. After all, I have a huge ass big screen tv at home and a nice comfy couch to watch my movies on while my kids are asleep in their bed.

  8. Syko says:

    Not even popcorn, geronimo? 🙁

    I can not even imagine paying $35 to see something I can buy for $20 in six months, or rent for $2. And when you add in the cost of refreshments, you could easily spend over $100 for two people to see a movie. That’s obscene. I don’t care how comfortable the seats are, my couch is more comfortable.

    And the price is especially ridiculous when you consider the quality of the movies. Almost everything is a remake – remakes of things that didn’t need to be remade – or it’s some vapid silliness. Not that I don’t like silliness, but I like a scoop of intelligence served with it.

    You know what I’d like? I’d like to see them bring back the drive-in movie. Now, that was cool. I’m sure most of you don’t remember them, but they used to have “Buck Night” when a whole car full of people paid $1 to get in. It was a place to go for romance when you were a teen, and later young couples could dress the kids in their jammies, bring along a couple of pillows for them, and they’d fade out – then Mom and Dad could watch the rest of the movie or maybe throw in a little romance just like in the good old days. There was always a little drama when you got lost on the way back from the refreshment stand, or when somebody forgot to take their speaker off the window and drove away with it. I don’t know why drive-ins died off.

  9. Bodhi says:

    Whats wrong with tattoos? I know many people who work in high end establishments that are covered in them.

    Anyway, we have a cool little indy theatre down the street from the house that serves beer & wine & some light munchies. Its only about $5 a ticket & I love it!!

  10. geronimo says:

    Now you’re talking, syko! I grew up with parents who were huge Happy Days fans (and Americana fans in general) and I remember watching films with them with drive-in movies theatres and thinking they were the most exciting thing I’d ever seen (and not commonplace, need I add, in rural Ireland). Such romance! Found this link which might give you hope. 🙂

  11. Syko says:

    Interesting article, geronimo. I grew up in a town of 20,000 and we had two drive-ins. Now I live in a town of over a million and we don’t have any. 🙁

    They always had a “playground”, at the very least a couple of swing sets and maybe a merry-go-round. The refreshment/restroom building in the middle would have a flat roof, and sometimes they had performances on that roof before the movie started. I can remember several budding singers, and one magician, and once they hypnotized a man and buried him alive in a glass coffin for a week and you could come and look down through the window and see that he was still there – but I was 8, and nobody would drive me out to see him.

    They had promotions. One night a week was always buck night, when a carload got in for a buck and people would load up their cars and take whole families, along with a few lawn chairs in the trunk, which they’d set up in front of the car. Some people lay on the hoods of the cars, with the windshield as a back rest. Almost everyone tried at some point to sneak in the drive-in, and most succeeded. As an adult with kids, I used to give them their baths, put them in their jammies, and we’d head for the drive-in. Very exciting for the kids, and they would watch as long as they could stay awake. After we got home, we’d carry them into the house and put them in bed.

    You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a scary movie at a drive-in. The only time I ever heard my husband scream was when we were watching “Return of the Fly” and just as the Fly was skulking around a morgue or some other dark place, someone walked past our car and bumped my husband’s elbow, which was resting in the window. I laughed, which might be indicative of why he is no longer my husband.

    The only bad thing was no air conditioning. I’m not so sure that, as an older adult, I would care to go sit in the Florida humidity for 5 or 6 hours and act as a smorgasbord for the mosquitoes any more. But drive-ins were a great time.

  12. geronimo says:

    Wonderfully atmospheric description, syko (and just like in the movies!) Thanks for that.

  13. Mairead says:

    Just to point out that that it’s AUS$35 not US, although my currency converter translates that as US$32.

    BUT – it still works out at €20 or STG£16 which I’m sure CB and the other European might think that’s actually not too bad. After 6pm here in Ireland, even in rural cinemas you’re looking at just under 9yoyos for an adult cinema ticket which works out at
    AUS$15/ US$14/ STG£7

    So when you look at it as an overall nights entertainment it seems like not too bad value by Irish terms, at least – and Australia has been struggling with its economy for a while.

    I suppose it’s down to cost of living in the various countries – perhaps this is completely extortionate in the US but only about double or 1/3 extra over what people are paying in normal cattlemarket cinemas in Oz; it could be seen as positively frugal in some countries like Ireland or Austria!

  14. Anonymous says:

    they have these kinds of theaters in other places all over the world, so why not here?

  15. paris herpes says:

    You spend $35 on two people going to the movies these days anyway, with the price of movie tickets at $10 a pop and then an extra $15 on shitty food. I find it HIGHLY offensive that movies charge $4 for a small soda or small popcorn. Is there a prize at the bottom of the popcorn or what?! The same goes for baseball and football stadiums. I might as well watch a DVD or make my own food while I watch then pay that much to be entertained. The entertainment industry is so damn exploitative, it’s not even funny anymore…!

  16. xiaoecho says:

    Kevin…..who cares what the servants look like as long as they don’t smell and their fingernails are clean?

  17. Scott F says:

    Gotta say, this is far from a new or innovative concept. In fact, it’s a business that’s already failed before.

    We had a place in downtown Indianapolis (think they had a few elsewhere too, like Chicago) called Hollywood Bar and Filmworks. Most nights it was over 18 only, you could smoke and get food and booze delivered to your table, which they had instead of theater seating.

    They survived for like 20 years on a huge cult following. They showed Rocky Horror like 3 nights a month along with a lot of other cult films, and it was always a huge draw. Unfortunately we had a smoking ban here in Indy, and it succeeded in killing all the good nightlife. Thank you over-protective nanny-staters.

  18. chamalla says:

    Scott F!!!! I was just about to post about HB&F. Hubby and I went there all the time. I loved the building and the decor, too. It didn’t cost anywhere near $35, either.

    *high fives fellow indy resident*

  19. Kevin says:

    Xiaoecho…? Hello? I said it! Obviously I care. I dont want some nasty looking kid with metal extrusions punched in their face and permanent ink stains all over their body waiting on me when I’ve paid for a higher level (high class?) of entertainment. Thanks to people like my father and Scott F, one has the right to mutilate their body any way they see fit. However that doesnt force anyone else to have to like looking at it or accepting it as high class. A touch of perfume is a nice and attractive thing but totally douche yourself with it and it isn’t pleasent any longer. Presenting themselves the way they look in the photo is precisley why they work in a damn movie house. Fair? probably not. Reality? More then likely. That is all, thank you.

  20. Ausnicknick says:

    I’ve been to the Gold Class cinemas here in Australia and it’s a great way of making the movies more of a ‘treat’ for a birthday or special evening. They’re only for over 18s here and I’ve always found it an excellent way to see a film, comfy seats, no close neighbours, a glass of wine and some nice food. Give it a try!

  21. link says:

    Welcome to 1995….
    We have them all over the place & you need to book in advance as there allways booked on the day….
    Good country Australia!!!

  22. Rosemary says:

    These are the best!!!
    I saw “Gladiator” in Oz when it came out. Yes, Our date night cost about $AU120 about ten years ago, but the night rocked. No kids screaming or kicking the back of your seat. Limited seating. Great movie. Beers and entrees when you scheduled them. Worth every cent!
    I have been waiting for this to come to the USA. This is exceptional news for adults who want a real film-date night with all the trimmings.

  23. mollination says:

    I look at it more like the experience at a broadway show or dinner theatre is. If they could promise me a surrounding audience like that, I would totally pay 35$ a ticket to see a movie in style.

    It would be fun to go to the adult theatre (21 and up) that only plays the better movies out, and get to enjoy dinner and drinks while I watch it. If the economy wasn’t garbage, I think that would be great.

  24. Gracie says:

    Hollywood Blvd is still around, at least in IL.

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