If you’ve been keeping track of the past few releases this summer, you’ll notice an interesting trend studios and theaters have taken when it comes to promoting big-budget films. While they still employ the usual advance screenings and press screenings, there’s been a drastic change in what many consider to be a staple of movie-going culture.
We all at one point have been excited about a film. So much so that we plan on seeing the first showing of the “day” at midnight. The amount of money theaters made from these events was pretty sizable, so they started having multiple showings that were staggered about ten minutes or so apart, with the last showing ranging anywhere from 12:30 to 3:00 in the morning.
We should be getting special reserved seating like one would find in a VIP showing that’s clean, spacious, with the guarantee that there’s not going to be some annoying idiot playing Angry Birds, texting, or talking during the movie.
Instead of a small popcorn, we should be getting a full combo meal, and if we’re getting a special poster or commemorative 3D glasses, they should at least be of a quality that sets it apart from the other posters and glasses that the public normally gets.
For example, have the poster be signed by the main stars or director. With the glasses, rather than just having your run-of-the-mill 3D glasses made of cheap plastic and cellophane, they should be designed to be more conducive to immersing the viewer into the world of the film, or at the very least have more of a custom sculpt like they did for The Avengers as opposed to simply having the name of the movie printed on the sides of the glasses.
As for any other bonuses, the Mega-Ticket should also include things such as extra behind-the-scenes featurettes or a Q&A with the cast like one would find with special screenings of other films.
The point is that if you’re going to pay $50 for a film, then the experience should be different from what you get at regular price.
However, things started to change over these past few weeks. The logic behind the trend makes sense. If people are willing to pay through the nose to see these films at midnight, why not have a slightly earlier showing to bring in more money?
First there were showings at 11:30, and then there were showings at 11:00. Sometimes there were showings at 10:00 to show a double feature if the film was a long-awaited sequel. Then the film studios caught wind of this phenomenon and decided to use it as a way to bolster the box-office numbers for the opening weekend.
As a result, the screenings were pushed earlier and earlier to the point that you can now quite literally watch a film a day in advance by going to a highly priced 7:00 showing the previous evening, as I did when reviewing Despicable Me 2.
While it makes sense from a business standpoint, when you’re reminded of the fact that studios like to engage in a never-ending battle of one-upmanship, a startling realization occurs.
As studios fight to boost their box-office numbers, will they continue pushing the screenings earlier and earlier to the point where the advertised release dates aren’t even true anymore? Will we, the movie-going public, have to end up paying even more to see a film at a time when we normally see movies just for the “satisfaction” of seeing it early, even if thousands, if not millions, would be able to do the same only a few minutes after your showing the very same day?
As a movie-goer and film critic, this is definitely a cause for concern, as more and more studios unveil Mega-Tickets and Super-Tickets boasting various perks for almost obscene prices—the quality of the films notwithstanding. Such practices and trends are making Spielberg’s predictions about the eventual implosion of the film industry seem more and more likely.
This leaves us with a choice as consumers. We can either feed the pig and watch this trend grow bigger and bigger as ticket prices rise higher and higher, or we can put the pig on a diet by not taking the bait and simply waiting for the release of films on the day advertised while choosing to avoid the excessive perks such as 3D, IMAX, or D-BOX showings.
I’m not saying you should be a complete cheapskate when it comes to the movie-going experience, but when you’re paying anywhere between $20 to $50 dollars for a ticket, we’d better be getting a whole lot more than just a poster, glasses and a small popcorn.