Monday, January 02, 2012

So, been to the movies lately?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation since 1995 has totaled 48 percent. That is, what cost $1.00 in 1995 cost $1.48 in 2011.

That's an overall generalization: some things have gone down in price, and some things have gone up, but by less than 48 percent. And some things have gone up by more than 48 percent. Way more.

Like movie tickets.

According to a piece in the Chicago Tribune, headlined "Movie ticket sales hit 16-year low in 2011," movie tickets prices have risen more than 80 percent since 1995.

So is anyone surprised that people are buying fewer tickets? Really?

Last Thursday, I returned from 10 days or so in Louisville. Usually when I'm there for an extended visit, I'll go to a movie with family members. This time, I didn't. Janet and I stopped at a theatre once, but we didn't see anything showing that we wanted to see badly enough to part with the necessary cash.

I know people who have sworn off movie theatres on the basis of economics. Again, with an 80 percent increase in ticket prices during a period in which overall inflation has been 48 percent, does this surprise anyone?

Better question, perhaps: who cares? Or more precisely, who cares enough to change anything that they're doing?

Hollywood studios charge movie theatre owners to rent movies. Do they care enough about ticket sales to change anything they're doing, or do they view theatrical exhibition as merely a prelude to DVD sales and rentals?

Theatre owners certainly care, but do they care enough to do the most obvious thing to do when sales of an item decline - i.e., reduce the price? Do they trust their market enough to say, "At the right price, we'll sell more tickets, enough to cover increasing expenses?"

Atticus shared with me yesterday his idea that a smart studio/production company would have theatre owners cut the ticket prices for their releases, while offering them 15% of sales.

Are any Hollywood studios that smart? Hmmmm........
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