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Movie Ticket Receipts Fell

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According to a study by stats firm Nielsen Entertainment/NRG, movie ticket receipts in North America fell 6% to $9B. On a personal level, I can only recall going to perhaps a dozen movies last year in part because the quality of movies has gone down and there are just too many other things competing for my time and money. Perhaps it’s more frugality on the part of moviegoers? Maybe the MPAA’s fears of people downloading movies instead of seeing them in the theaters wasn’t that far off. Or have movies just gotten too expensive to take a family to? Have your movie outings decreased in the last year and is there any one thing you can “blame” it on?


{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Movie Ticket Receipts Fell”

  1. RS says:

    My wife and I used to go to the movies just about every weekend back in the day. Over the last 4 years though, we have all but stopped going unless it is something really good or we are really bored. I have never downloaded a movie in my life, so that isn’t the reason for stopping. I think that I have stopped because there really isn’t much that I consider great coming out and it is too expensive. I can not stand paying almost $40 for the 2 of us to see a movie with 2 sodas, a popcorn for her and a package of candy for myself. Why wouldn’t I just wait for the DVD and buy that for $16 and get to watch it as many times as I want on my comfy couch (that is actually another problem, our theater is old and crappy and not comfortable).

    I just think that they have priced themselves right out of competition, especially because the product is not even that good anymore.

  2. Tim says:

    I try not to go to many movies at the theater. But when my girlfriend and I go we both get military discounts so it’s like having matinee prices 24/7. I use my Regal Crown Card too for rewards (like free movie tickets). But it’s still expensive. I doubt movie downloads are the cause. Hollywood needs to focus on making better movies instead of blaming others. Great post!

  3. We hardly ever go to full price movies. There is frankly little that I want to see, and when I do want to see it on the big screen, I go to the 2.50 theatre in town. We saw Brokeback Mountain at the “real” theatre because there were so many protests about it in my town (biggest city in the state, but only ONE theatre agreed to show it!) we thought it might not get to the dollar show. It was the first full price we’d been to in ages, and I about fainted at the cost. 8 dollars EACH. That is 16 dollars for two people. I can’t even fathom taking a whole family to the movies. We don’t even buy snacks! I’ll stick with the 2.50 place, where we can both see a movie for less than the price of one full price ticket, thank you. Or even better- the free video rental from the library.

    I do not download movies, either.

  4. MoneyDummy says:

    It’s the quality of the experience for the cost of the ticket. Theaters no longer have the corner on comfortable seats, large screens, and quality sound; many people (particularly true movie buffs) have those things in their own homes. Additionally, when you stay at home you don’t have to put up with that loud moron two rows behind you, you don’t have to stand in line, and you can eat whatever you feel like instead of paying eighty-seven dollars for stale popcorn with a sheen of butter dribbled on it.

    Pretty much the only asvantage movie theaters have over at-home-movies is the fact that they have newer films, but even that draw is losing its potency since movie quality is dropping. Plus, American media consumers are already saturated with new television series, recently-released DVDs, and classic or cult television series being released on DVD. (DH and I own and watch a lot of these: X-Files, Friends, MASH, Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek– Deep Space Nine). There’s plenty to occupy their time and attention while they’re waiting for such and such a movie to come out on DVD. Throw in the fact that media consumers can now have all these things LITERALLY shipped to their doors, and it becomes easy to understand why people would just rather stay home.

  5. Anon says:

    For the price of a movie night for two, I can rent 12 DVDs from Netflix. Except for very cinematographic movies (like Lord Of The Rings), the experience is almost the same.

    No brainer! Cinemas are simply not worth it anymore.

  6. MoneyDummy says:

    Oh, and like the other commenters, I have never downloaded a movie.

  7. PMOA says:

    Oh yeah….movies havent been all that great lately. There have been a few gems, but nothing LOTR’esque or Sin City’esque….But Jessica Alba in Into the Blue = FANTASTIC

  8. Kim says:

    I hardly every go to the movies anymore. It’s just too expensive and that’s just for the tickets! Besides, movies are hitting DVD so much faster now so it’s not like I won’t be able to catch it in 6 months once it hits the video store.

  9. Chris says:

    Downloading is an excuse by the MPAA to avoid taking a hard look at their own industry. Production costs have skyrocketed (paying too many “actors” 20+ million a picture, not to mention another 5+ mill for the “name” director) and Hollywood is turning out lame retreads with the same old plots, bad dialogue, too many explosions and flashy production values, too much annoying product placement, and way too little of what makes films great. Now that a standard ticket price has cracked $9 in my town (Seattle) my girlfriend and I are a lot more picky about what we go see in our local theaters.

    BUT… out theater attendance has dropped only slightly and we’re watching more films than ever. Why are Hollywood and the MPAA not seeing our movie dollars? Because we joined SIFF (a.k.a. Cinema Seattle, the people who put on the Seattle International Film Festival every spring) and most of our theater going is now confined to the many screenings they put on for members. The main benefits are twofold: 1) the Hollywood films that we do see we get to see early, with other film lovers instead of with loud and obnoxious teenagers who are just there to kill time, and 2) SIFF does a damn good job of screening out all the crap that Hollywood wants us to spend money on but isn’t worth the time of day.

    And yes, my 30″ widescreen HDTV + DVD player + Netflix means their $9+ per person ticket price is no longer a viable business model. Since the industry moved away from large theater screens towards multiplexes with smaller screens, there is no real benefit to watching most films in a theater any more. It’s gotta be an epic (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, King Kong) and the screen has to be big and the picture sharp, or there is no point. When the Cinerama, with its huge, curved screen, state of the art sound, and digital projection gets a film we want to see, we go, and gladly pay the $9.50 per person they ask. Sadly, it’s only one screen.

    Meanwhile, the two multiplexes down the street (one 11 screen and one 16 screen) show 95% of the films playing in town and cram people into tiny theaters with small screen for nearly the same price. Oh, and they’re too cheap to buy decent projector bulbs and replace them when they’re supposed to, so the projection is grainy and too dark. No thanks. Hell, movies at our local IMAX theater, with its gargantuan screen and awesome sound, are only $10, and they bombard you with far fewer ads before the movie, too. Too bad that far too few films are shot in IMAX. The Matrix sequels, the Harry Potter films, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all benefitted mightily from the IMAX treatment. Too bad the Hollywood types didn’t see fit to do the Lord of the Rings trilogy or recent Star Wars films in IMAX. They would’ve made a mint on repeat attendance. Instead, they want to whine about piracy, a non-problem if ever there was one.

    The movie industry can’t have it both ways. Either they sell people DVDs, HD-DVDs, Blu-Ray, and huge widescreen HDTVs, or they sell a good theater experience, because most people generally will not pay for both. I think we are seeing the beginnings of a badly overdue downsizing of the movie production industry in Amercia. Many of them won’t be missed.

    Sorry for the long post, but I love film and I had to get this off my chest. 🙂

  10. jim says:

    Chris – By all means, write as much (or as little) as you want! 🙂

  11. Amanda says:

    I am a huge movie buff and love nothing more than a Saturday afternoon in the movie theater. However, I was talking with my fiance the other day and he said “wow, its been a really long time since we’ve gone to the movies”… Thinking about it, I think that it is the cost per movie that stifles my attendance, lately. More and more, I have less of a drive to spend $10 (plus more for food/drink) for a movie ticket. It just seems too ridiculous!
    Additionally, I agree with you, Jim… there are less and less real quality films that actually peak my interest.
    Besides, my Netflix keeps me pretty happy!

  12. jim says:

    One should instead ask yourself, what’s the point of watching “Must Love Dogs” period? 🙂

  13. Herb says:

    Do you read Blog Maverick? Cuban is of course a bit biased, but he has a lot of good things to say about why the theatre experience is losing attendance. And like everyone else says, it all comes down to there being too many things competing for the same dollars and a poor job of targeting their audience in the case of theatres. Everyone is gonna have to learn to live with a smaller piece of a larger pie. CD’s, Movies, Monday Night Football, etc… They are no longer the only game in town and yet the MPAA and RIAA just seem to have their heads in the sand and refuse to accept reality.

  14. Herb says:

    And another point… I don’t see price as being a problem necessarily. Going to see a great movie like LOTR is well worth the $10 you pay. When you compare that to going to a MLB game, NBA game, musuem, amusment park, those are all multiple times more expensive than a theatre experience. A theatre is great for a picture like LOTR or King Kong, but what’s the point of watching “Must Love Dogs” at a theatre when you can watch it at home? The fact is there’s just not much gained from watching the majority of movies at the cinema when it’s cheaper and a better experience to watch them at home, with the exception of the mega hits that really make you feel like you’re in the movie.

  15. Rich says:

    Like others said, there is not much perceived gain from going to a movie theater. Even if $40 does not seem out of line compared to other events, the perception people have is they are getting ripped off at the theater. Until they change that perception and create one of value, people are stop going to the theater. Sure it might cost the same as a baseball game but people don’t go to games several times a month which the theaters want.

    I bought a home theater sound system this year for $200. I can get great surround sound and widescreen from a DVD in my living room with a regular tv. I may not have the theater screen but I also don’t have 100 people making noise or spilling soda. Theaters and the movie industry need to do what the rest of corporate american has done, cut costs and update their business model. What good is paying an actor $20 mill if they can’t recoup it. How about wrapping the movie with ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ type interactive audience games. Leverage the fact that you have a large group. Think like Disney.

  16. Matt says:

    I have my own apartment. The only reason to go to the theater rather than watching a DVD is to make out with your girlfriend where your parents won’t catch you. At age 30, this is rather less of an issue for me than it was at 14. 🙂

    OK, OK…I did do my part for the cause by going to see “Serenity” eight times (not counting the two pre-release previews I snagged tickets to). But other than that, I didn’t set foot in a theater in 2005 at all…and I wouldn’t have done that if the franchise hadn’t desperately needed a show of public support. I don’t expect to go in 2006 either. Most of the movies coming out these days massively suck. And the few that don’t, I can just rent later on DVD for cheap or watch on HBO for “free”. (HBO is a nonnegotiable purchase for me because of their original stuff. But as long as the movies are thrown in along with the original shows anyway, I sometimes watch one.)

  17. MJ says:

    I agree with the other commenters: movies are not very good and cost too much. I think Sin City was the last really good movie I saw at the theater, and that was nearly a year ago. Several of us took off work early and went to a matinee on a weekday, which was a much nicer experience than the typical one these days; my husband and I used to go to a matinee nearly every weekend, but we just got sick of the idiots talking on cell phones during the movie and little kids giggling and running up and down the aisles of an R-rated movie while their parents sat obliviously munching away on their popcorn.

    We knew we’d stop going to movies when we had our baby (along with comfortable seats and big screens, “cry rooms” are definitely a thing of the past!), but we actually stopped several months before he was born and haven’t missed it yet.

    Oh, and we don’t download movies either. We’ve got several premium channels and ReplayTV, so we always have a couple of movies in the queue when the weekend rolls around.

  18. wiamy says:

    I have never download a movie in my whole life. It is just there are so many “DVD” movie out there. I don’t need the theatre’s special sound effect to watch Hitch, in which many of nowadays movie, 80% are so “Hitchy”. I would only pay to see a movie for special effects.

    By the way, I get my AMC tickets from Costco, which cost a daytime movie “gift certificiate”/
    ticket to watch @ 8pm on Sunday night!

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