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Old 12-01-03, 06:45 PM   #1
DonnachaOne
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Would you pay a membership fee to see movies?

For English, I have to write an essay proposing a solution to a problem. This is research, dammit!
Doesn't have to super-contraversial, doesn't have to be really broad. Bear in mind, the solution has to be realistic, something that COULD be implemented, but doesn't have to be practical down to every detail. No-one's trying to cure cancer with one essay. I thought I'd address the decline of movie theater experience.

So, here's my solution; split the cineplex up into public and members-only shows, and charge $5 a month for a membership fee. Members do not have to pay for movie tickets; they swipe their membership card. For regular moviegoers, this is a bargain at $60 a year, and other people can always go to the public shows.

Members-only shows will be patrolled by 2-4 ushers per cineplex, depending on day and time. Members can bring at most four guests, who have to pay for entry. No children under ten are allowed for R-rated shows, and not without a parent or adult guardian. Couples could get a special rate on a joint membership.

Members also get a nominal discount on concessions. Nothing major - since cineplexes make their cash off concessions, they shouldn't have to go bankrupt.

Loud talking, prolonged cellphone use and irritating behavior warrant dismissal from the patrolling ushers and a possible cancellation of membership, no refund.

Members would also get other special benefits, like a screening of a film the night before general release.

Naturally, not everyone's going to get a membership, and that'll be fine for the ciniplex operators - the members will still want to see the members-only shows, and the other people in their group will simply pay to get in.


As I said before, it doesn't have to be an incredibly practical solution - I just have to write it up, support it, and anticipate arguments to the contrary. What problems do you see with this idea?

Got the idea when replying to this thread.

Last edited by DonnachaOne; 12-01-03 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 12-01-03, 06:52 PM   #2
das Monkey
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Yes. Like any service, as long as it was quality (no noise, convenient showtimes, no extra hassle), I'd pay. Although, considering all the things you're suggesting, $60 seems pretty low.

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Old 12-01-03, 06:54 PM   #3
Birrman54
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I'd pay the $5 a month, but that's way too low. The theaters would never go for it. $15 - 20/month I could see happening, but at that point I'm not sure if I'd pay.

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Old 12-01-03, 06:55 PM   #4
DonnachaOne
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Quote:
Originally posted by das Monkey
Yes. Like any service, as long as it was quality (no noise, convenient showtimes, no extra hassle), I'd pay. Although, considering all the things you're suggesting, $60 seems pretty low.

das
There's already floor crews that clean up shows. No reason why there couldn't be one or two taken from the crew to watch the members-only shows, which, with fewer children, would be far less messy.

As for the $60 figure, I'm not sure some people would agree to anything higher. How much is it for a season pass to a theme park?
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Old 12-01-03, 06:59 PM   #5
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For $60 a year, I'd definitly do it. I'd do it for $120 a year as well, but much past that I'd have to really think about it.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:01 PM   #6
das Monkey
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Ack ... btw, I never saw your post in the other thread until now. Hope you didn't think I was ignoring you.

Anyway, I think at the least you should charge (and could get away with) the price of admission for one movie per month. That is if your approach is to have two ways to attend: membership and non-membership. Under that system, membership shouldn't be for everyone, and as such you don't have to keep a crazy low price. If you did only membership, then a low price would make more sense IMO.

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Old 12-01-03, 07:04 PM   #7
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The service you are suggesting would never be available for such a low monthly charge. Heck, $5 barely covers half of a normal ticket price around here.

Also, cinemas only make mmoney when they can absolutely minimize labor costs. The usher thing seems unlikely.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:11 PM   #8
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60/yr? Most likely.
Is there a limit to the number of movies I can see, or is there only like one or two members only shows a month? One other feature I would like, which you may include but I missed, is an auto-entry kind of thing. If I'm swiping my card, I should just be able to walk in, and not wait in either the ticket line or the tickettaker line.
And a preferred line at the concession counter, although faster entry into the theater would help that. [Last time I went to a movie, we waited in line for ~15 min to get tix, and another 10 to get popcorn.]
Currently, a season pass to Six Flags looks like 50 bucks. But parking is separate, which is probably 5-7$ a shot, though they do offer a parking pass for an add'l ~25.
One other thing I'd like is a max number of people in a theater. If the theater seats X, cap it at .75x to allow some 'breathing room.' And the ability to 'reserve' tickets [when we went to see Pirates, it had sold out 4 hours in advance, and we were irked. Yes, our fault, but still.]

Problems: Seems too cheap to me. My local theaters have matinees for 5.50, going up to 8 for nighttime shows. I can buy passes through my credit union for 5 bucks. So if I get unlimited access for 5/month, you can bet your pants I'd go more often than I do now. But everytime I'd go, I'd probably get some concession, which is like 15000% profit, so the theater could still make money.

This might offer the proprietor the 'gym benefit', ie, people who buy a 12 or 24 month contract, go two or three times, then get slack. It's only 5/month, but if you have X members, perhaps only 1/4 of X would continuously attend; the rest is free money. But not if you have to turn away pay-as-you-go customers because their theaters were full.

I'm not sure what other problems I instantly foresee with this; it's an interesting idea to be sure.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:14 PM   #9
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iI'd say that someone willing to become a member is probably going to see at least 2 movies a month. I would pay about $20.00 a month ($240.00 a year). that sounds fair to me. i would probably see at least 3 movies a month so it would be a bargain for me...plus the benefit of an usher would be awesome...get rid of those cell phones and annoying middle school kids that are there only to hang out.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by JustinS
The service you are suggesting would never be available for such a low monthly charge. Heck, $5 barely covers half of a normal ticket price around here.

Also, cinemas only make mmoney when they can absolutely minimize labor costs. The usher thing seems unlikely.
True, but depending on how many 'members' they have, they could move staff from the ticket selling/ticket taking departments [unless they're a bunch of punk kids who think 'I'm not seating people or sweeping up!'] My theater has a preponderance of high schoolers, which is good that they are working, but I can't imagine they're paying all that much. Maybe as long as the theater is putting in card swipers, why not put in electronic ticket takers like at the subway. Maybe have four sets of them, with one person watching over it to make sure no one jumps the turnstile.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:33 PM   #11
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For $5 a month I'd be seeing every movie playing that month at least twice. And for $50 a month I'd be seeing every movie playing that month at least twice just to get my money's worth.
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Old 12-01-03, 07:57 PM   #12
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Good idea I best it would work good for u if i was your prof i would give u an A+++++++++++++++
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Old 12-01-03, 08:02 PM   #13
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The idea sounds good. The price may need to be looked at more closely, maybe a break-even analysis.

The main concern may be if enough members initially sign-up to justify a split of screens. Since a member wouldn't want to pay again at the public screen; would there be a member and public screen for each movie or just new releases? Then members and non-members would watch the older movies together.
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Old 12-01-03, 08:31 PM   #14
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Like everyone else, i agree that the price is too low. Great idea though!
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Old 12-01-03, 08:38 PM   #15
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I'd probably pay if the price were that low. It would give me a reason to go to the movies.
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Old 12-01-03, 08:43 PM   #16
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Yeah, you need to charge about $30/month for that. I know I would pay as much as $50. I probably spend that per month at the movies anyway with ticket prices at $9.
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Old 12-01-03, 08:55 PM   #17
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In reality, the price charged would be probably be so high that only a very small percentage would "get their moneys' worth" compared to normal ticket prices.

The service might still be popular enough to try if members still felt like the improvements in environment, the reduction in hassle, the invitations to advanced screenings, and the concession discounts added up make it worth the additional expense.

They would really need to work on making the whole thing seem as exclusive as possible, perhaps even going so far as to have a separate concession stand (or at least line) and perhaps reserved parking.

People have a long history of quite a bit to be treated like a VIP.
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Old 12-01-03, 09:38 PM   #18
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probably something like $49.99 and maybe $69.99 for a free soda and popcorn each time you go or a family of 4 pass for the price of 3... offering like a Gold and Silver pass... also, would probably want the pass you sell to have a photo ID so only the buyer can use it
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Old 12-01-03, 09:39 PM   #19
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I'd do it. Maybe $25 per month.
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Old 12-02-03, 12:57 AM   #20
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If done right, I'd gladly pay $20 per month, especially if the theatre threw some foreign and indie films into the mix.

Several years back, my cousin lived in Manila, Phillipines, and had a membership to a special THX theatre there. When I went to visit him, he took me to see a film there. The place had very nice seats, state of the art sound system, etc. I don't remember the cost, but it was an annual fee and it included a number of tickets per month (extras could be purchased). The average movie ticket price in Manila was about the equivalent of 70 cents US at the time, if I remember correctly, so this theatre was rather exclusive. I suppose a similar idea could work here in larger cities.

Of course, a theater chain in Canada tried some more expensive VIP theatres in Toronto (more luxurious, with a smaller number of more spacious seats). I loved the idea and went several times and happily paid the extra price. Unfortunately, they didn't catch on.
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Old 12-02-03, 09:38 AM   #21
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while not as detailed as donnachaOne suggested membership:

the UGC Cinema chain in the UK offers this membership:

UGC offer a membership scheme whereby cinema-goers sign up for a subscription card entitling them to Unlimited Cinema for a minimum of 12 months. For £9.99 per month ($15), members enjoy exclusive benefits, including:

∑ Free films at any UGC cinema in the UK and Ireland (except London's West End), on any day, at any time
∑ Advance booking via special Unlimited Booking telephone line
∑ Invitations to advance screenings, festivals, recommended screenings and more
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Old 12-02-03, 09:45 AM   #22
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I know that there are theaters that have implemented this system. Somebody was telling me about a theater in Canada that had it. Oops...Giles beat me to it.

But, as others have said, $5 a month for unlimited movies? No way in hell a theater would do that...especially when ticket prices for ONE showing exceeds $10 in many areas.

I would prefer to have VIP screenings where you pay double the price for your ticket, and nobody under 21 is allowed. If theaters implemented that, I wouldn't do anything else.
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Old 12-02-03, 11:19 AM   #23
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How about a membership that for a small yearly fee would allow you to purchase tickets at a discount. The discount could be a percentage or dollar amount off and you could limit the number of tickets purchased.

Or something like the Regal plan: Regal cinemas has a free membership that accumulates points when you buy your tickets. The points give you free tickets and concession items automatically whenever you hit a threshold. I used it all last summer and ended up with 2 free movie tickets and countless bags of popcorn.
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Old 12-02-03, 11:33 AM   #24
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I've been to a few movies where there is an adult talking on a cell or something similar. what we need is for the theater to set some violent dogs on anyone who dares to interrupt a movie. And that includes anyone getting up to go to the concession stand or to the bathroom.
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Old 12-02-03, 11:42 AM   #25
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I think it's a fantastic idea . . . make the monthly membership fee be around 2-3 times the amount of a single ticket at that theater (since prices vary based on location) or a yearly price of 20-25 times. Offer family packs a 20% discount on top of that. Some fun amenities like concession discounts, exclusive previews, DVD discounts (tie it in with a national retailer . . . something like bring in your ticket stub from a movie and get $3-5 off the DVD when it is released), etc. It might actually be enough to pull business away from rental stores (something theaters would kill to be able to do).

I'd be all over that plan . . .
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