Regal may want to charge you more for Justice League than Geostorm

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:16 AM EDT (Updated)

All movie tickets are not made equal ... or at least that's the idea Regal Entertainment Group is planning to test on audiences soon.

According to a report from Bloomberg, in early 2018 “dynamic pricing” lobbyist and ticketing app maker Atom Tickets LLC will be working with the theater exhibitor on “demand-based” fluctuations in the costs of a movie.

As the traditional movie model falters under the rise of streaming services, the theatrical process must adapt to the newly empowered customer. When choice is on the side of the consumer, the provider must leverage the attributes it still has available. For Regal, that means investing in blockbusters. As Bloomberg explains it, this is “a system that would involve charging higher prices for hit movies and lower prices for unpopular movies.”

As far as those films that are hits in theaters, that generally means cheap-to-produce horror films, the big studio tentpoles likely starring a superhero or an animated critter, and the odd (and often unpredicted) comedy. Under Regal's new model, as soon as these films are proven hits, we'll see their ticket prices jump.

The scary potential here is that surprise horror and comedy hits may see prohibitive price increases, simply because audiences aren’t willing to pay a higher price for a film they could stream in a month or two. The tentpoles, on the other hand, have already been used to milk moviegoers for all they’re worth, tacking on 3D, 4D, IMAX, and other extras to jack the price up on audiences considered pre-sold. Movies like Justice League, with massive marketing budgets and a fanbase hooked in through the franchise’s previous films, could be exploited based on opening night sales, even if the film faces a significant performance drop-off.

As for the rest of the films, they’ll likely be cheaper, in an effort to get people to attend. That’s good news for anyone with alternative tastes, as most indies don’t necessarily perform well enough in large chain theaters to warrant anything but a price dip. Low-budget Oscar contenders aren’t the only films that will benefit from this plan; flops such as The Dark Tower or Geostorm (which suffered a catastrophic opening weekend) would see a fire sale on tickets. Those who were planning on seeing the schlock anyway will reap the rewards, while more people will potentially see a filmmaker’s work the way it was meant to be seen.

What do you think of this performance-based ticket pricing? Let us know in the comments!