AMC is going to have different ticket prices depending on seating choice

My kids went to see Puss in Boots: The Last Wish this weekend and it sparked a discussion about theaters. Like most people, we’ve come to enjoy seeing first run films in the comfort of our home. But the fact is, I love the experience of a cinema. I love the big screen, the sound system, and the enthusiasm of the crowd. Plus, when I turn off a movie at home, that’s usually the end. But when I walk out of the theater, the feeling lingers and the whole event is more celebrated. But finding the time to coordinate with a theater’s schedule is hard, especially now that films have shorter runs. And, as is always the complaint, it’s expensive. AMC might have an answer to that last part. They are planning to charge different prices for different seats. So if you are low on funds, you can pick up some crap seats at a discounted price.

AMC Theatres will begin setting their ticket prices according to where patrons choose to sit in the auditorium, under its Sightline initiative, the company announced Monday.

Seats on the front row are considered Value Sightline seats and cost less, while seats in the middle are called Preferred Sightline seats and will cost more. The remaining parts of the theater are Standard Sightline seats and will cost the price of a standard admission ticket.

Those who are members of AMC Stubs A-List, the top tier of the company’s reward program, can select Preferred Sightline seats for no extra cost.

Sightline-priced tickets will apply to all showtimes after 4 p.m., but is not applicable during the company’s $5 Discount Tuesdays.

[From NPR]

Theaters are struggling, we know that. So this is first and foremost an opportunity for chains to try to recoup some profit. I like the idea of the front row et al being cheaper, that seems fair. We saw Black Swan in the first row, end of the aisle because those were the only seats left. Although for that film, it kind of enhanced the creepiness. But I would have been bummed to see Avengers: Endgame off to the side. My feelings for this tiered pricing are going to come down to how much am I paying for Preferred Sightline? I just checked our local AMC and they have not instigated this yet. I’m worried, though, because we don’t get $5 Discount Tuesdays. We get discounted Tuesdays, but they aren’t $5. I’m not going to take out a loan so my partner and I can grab dinner and a movie. And if you think I’m being dramatic, my kids paid $13 each for their discounted matinee on Sunday – at an AMC theater.

Photo credit: Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

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24 Responses to “AMC is going to have different ticket prices depending on seating choice”

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  1. Danbury says:

    Ya, movies worldwide are way too expensive. Where I live, movie + popcorn and a drink for two people can easily cost up to 75-80 USD (approx equivalent) and it’s rare a movie is worth that. So unless I know it’s a big special effects type movie, I wait and watch at home.

  2. Eurydice says:

    If the extra cost also includes a guarantee that the people around you aren’t coughing through the whole film, texting non-stop, or translating the whole thing to their Russian friend, or needing to go to the bathroom every five minutes, or undergoing a public divorce… You know, I have a pretty premium sight line at home.

    • Raz says:

      That’s exactly why I dislike going to the cinema – it’s the other people, their behaviors, their noises and smells. It’s really a lottery whether you’ll be able to focus on the movie and enjoy it or whether you’ll be annoyed by someone.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      My local cinema at the Choctaw Casino, has a great theater where there’s a large distance between the last row of seats and and the next row and those seats recline. If the movie isn’t playing in that theater so I can sit 5 feet away from the row in front and knit with my feet up, I just stay home. And knit with my feet up.

  3. L84Tea says:

    When I was a kid, my city had a theater that was known as “the dollar theater”. It was all the movies that had already been out for a few months and were one step away from being available in the local Blockbuster video. It was so fantastic to be able to go as a huge group and spend only a few bucks and enjoy a movie. Those were the days. Movie theaters are such a bummer now. I love the movie experience too, but for my little family of 4 it costs almost $100. It’s ridiculous.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      We had one of those in Tishomingo. Unfortunately, they also had rats, so we didn’t go too often.

  4. MsIam says:

    The AMC theaters in my area have all been terrible, with filthy bathrooms and one was even rumored to have a bed bug infestation. So I avoid them like the plague and go to a local chain. I hope this seating gimmick doesn’t become the norm in the industry. Otherwise, it’s home sweet home for me.

    • dj says:

      OMG. AMC by us is terrible too and also had bedbugs TWICE. We do not go there. We go to a local theater chain that is much nicer and safer. Plus, AMC is always more expensive. I will not be going to this. I have always loved going to a movie the whole experience. This worries me that this will be pricing people like me out of the good movie seats for people with more money. Screw that. AMC can keep their stale popcorn and I’ll stream at home. I think this might put the stake in the heart of the movies.

  5. Frippery says:

    Yeah this is a bad idea and here’s why.

    How is AMC going to ensure people actually sit, and stay, in the seating area they bought tickets for? Ushers like at a live theater event?

    It’s confusing.

    If I pay for seating in the Purple zone or whatever, then a party of seven drunk adults or a family taking two seven year olds to a three hour period drama sits next to me or a gaggle of NBA players sits in front of that section, or someone with allergies is right above me, etc, etc and I have to move to the Tiki seating or whatever, do I get a refund?

    It still doesn’t address high confession prices and loud people or people on their phones.

    I mean, seating is honestly the least of a theater’s problems.

    • Frippery says:

      Also, why would I want to go to the theater and pay $15 for a crummy seat, as opposed to $18 for a ‘good’ seat? It’s still going to be too expensive unless the difference is *dramatic* and then it’s like, so I’m paying less to have a lesser experience when the whole point of going to the movies is to have that prime viewing experience? Dude, no thanks.

    • Plain Jane says:

      Exactly…any enforcement is going to be on the employees who are already not paid enough for their current job description.

    • og bella says:

      Because you get an actual seat assignment, not a general admission. We’ve had assigned seating here in many theaters for years now.

    • Christine says:

      Agreed, well said. Minimum wage theater employees should not have policing added to their work load. This is going to be disastrous, how long before there is a violent confrontation because someone paid for the cheap seat, and then sat elsewhere? You can see this coming from a mile away!

  6. Twin Falls says:

    This feels more insulting than inviting. Yes we know our product is too expensive but here take the crap seats at a still too expensive cost and no we aren’t going to stop selling $3 worth of popcorn for $12.
    Also, I haven’t seen a truly full theater in years and I will move once the movie starts if there are people who insist on sitting too near me despite other open rows. I don’t see what’s to stop people from buying cheap seats and moving? Which brings me back to just being annoyed at this whole thing.
    Regal is my closest theater so I’m just annoyed for other people I guess.

    • Christine says:

      It will be further humiliating for parents, when their kids are loudly vocalizing that they don’t like their seats, but it’s all the parents can afford, and even then it was probably a stretch to begin with.

      The one affordable theater in LA closed during locking, I’ve been in mourning ever since.

  7. Steph says:

    I’m with Elijah Wood on this one.

    Also, let’s be real here. Prices are going to go up so that Value seats will be the current ticket price and everything else will go up.

    Honestly, I can’t see how pricing ppl out of the experience is going to help theaters out in the long run. Lowering prices would get more asses in seats and more repeat viewers.

  8. Seraphina says:

    I am probably older, late 40s, and I thoroughly enjoy sitting on my couch or being in bed to watch movies. I pause when I want and eat and drink what I want and no strangers around. So this only will help deter me from going.
    I get theaters are struggling but just as theater of old struggled so will these type of movie theaters. It’s the world changing – 2023 and so is are all the landscapes around us.

  9. SurelyNot says:

    Some movies need a big screen — Top Gun Maverick being the first that pops into mind, I saw it 3 times in the theatre. We just watched Wakanda Forever since it came out on Disney plus and I wish I had seen that one on the big screen. The Lost City of Z ….perfect for a living room release.
    Having said that — I can hit the local theatre that has the recliners and pay $18, pick my seat and they have refillable sodas. Still expensive, but worth it for some movies.

    This scheme seems a lot like airlines — we know our seats suck but for a little extra you can have a teensy bit of added comfort but no more value for your dollar.

    • Christine says:

      This does feel a bit like “we overcharge for really shitty seats, and now you have to pay to get your luggage on the plane too!!!” They are going to call it a reward program and act like they’ve done us all a big favor.

  10. Concern Fae says:

    I can see this for opening weekend for big movies. Pay extra for those center seats so you don’t have to get there early. But for weeknight shows where the theater is fairly empty? It’s ridiculous.

  11. Chantal says:

    Sounds like another way to discriminate against poor people by offering “cheap front row seats” that, unless its a blockbuster, they already have a hard time filling and which only small children could enjoy sitting in. And aren’t all of the seats in the theater the same size throughout? Cheap front row seats resulting in neck cramps for adults after watching the average 3 hr movie? No thanks! And didn’t they file for bankruptcy during the pandemic?

    Some major problems for AMC are the variety and popularity of streaming services, the increasingly shorter times between movie theater debut and availability to rent or buy, and safety concerns i.e. the rise in mass shootings in previously safe social settings. Another major problem is the increased popularity of movie theaters that have luxury seats, serve actual menu items and alcohol but that also enforce policies like no cell phone use nor excessive loud talking during the movie (removal without a refund).

    I don’t think stadium seat pricing is the answer nor is it sustainable. It’s the movie cinema business model that needs to change.

  12. Kirsten says:

    They should just go back to having all ticket prices in a single theatre be the same, and seats are first come, first serve. People rarely sit in the seats that they pick when buying tickets, and people choosing takes up time that the employee could be using to move on to the next customers in line.

  13. Old_Crone says:

    Seems like a foolproof way to fill those theaters. Charge MORE money