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Major ticket price differences in same city!

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Major ticket price differences in same city!

Old 08-07-10, 02:52 PM
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Major ticket price differences in same city!

I'm heading out today to see Inception with my son and Brother in Law. I usually avoid watching films on the weekends due to crowds, prices, etc. but this is the only day that Inception will work for us.

So I go to price movies and I'm shocked. We have two major theaters in Temecula, California (just north of San Diego) and one "cheap" theater. Both main theaters were built around the same time and both are very much alike (all have stadium seating, upscale feel to them, etc..).


I first checked out the Temecula Edwards price for the 2:20 p.m. showing on Fandango. Cost= $11.50 (which includes the service fee I think)

I then check the price for IMAX at the same theater and I'm shocked to find out the price. Cost= $18.00

I then go to the Temecula Movie Experience at Tower Plaza website to get the times/prices. For the 3:00 p.m. showing Cost= $5.50

I was amazed that prices could be so different within the same city. I've seen theaters priced different by a buck or two but I've never seen the same film around the same time priced more than double the amount of the same film just down the street. These theaters literally sit about 1 mile away from each other.


Are major price differences within the same city common place in other cities across the country? I didn't see these differences when I lived in Erie, PA or Northern California.

Needless to say we are going to the $5.50 showing at 3 p.m.

Last edited by amplified; 08-07-10 at 02:56 PM.
Old 08-07-10, 03:40 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Your example is comparing IMAX to non-IMAX theaters.

Here's an almost better one. Just south of you here in San Diego (Actually Mira Mesa) there's an Edward IMAX that is $18.50. Go further south to the AMC IMAX in National City and it's $14.75. Go even further south to the AMC IMAX in National City and it's $10.75.

All 3 are IMAX theaters showing Inception around 4:00pm today.
Old 08-07-10, 03:47 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

They're all around $10 in Phoenix.

You can read up on the faux-IMAX. I assume that's what the $18 is. And that is normal. I haven't been to one. But most film buffs seem to despise those setups.

Not sure about the $11.50 and $5.50 thing. They might do $5.50 to drive the business to that theater. Maybe the $11.50 place is nicer/more expensive and/or doesn't have 'matinee' showing on the weekend. Or maybe it's only a couple dollars difference and Fandango is charging $3 or something.

Anyways, it doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Enjoy the movie and stay out of the $18 faux-IMAX showings.
Old 08-07-10, 03:48 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Oh, if it's a regular IMAX setup, of course it's $18.
Old 08-07-10, 04:04 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Well, I know my local theater has weekend specials to see any movie for $5.50 before noon. No other place does that so they are cheaper, but just for a limited time.
Old 08-07-10, 04:12 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

We have an AMC here where tickets are $6, also before noon. Kinda nice to go early. But yeah, the IMAX price seems typical.
Old 08-07-10, 04:32 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

IMAX prices are ridiculous, especially since most theaters aren't true IMAX.
Old 08-07-10, 04:55 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by amplified
I first checked out the Temecula Edwards price for the 2:20 p.m. showing on Fandango. Cost= $11.50 (which includes the service fee I think)

I then go to the Temecula Movie Experience at Tower Plaza website to get the times/prices. For the 3:00 p.m. showing Cost= $5.50
Those are two different theatrical chains, with different pricing policies. Temecula Edwards is run by Regal, and has Sat & Sun matinee pricing until 2pm, so your showing just missed out (although the matinee is still $9).

Temecula Movie Experience is part of a local California chain called "The Movie Experience." Matinees before 3pm are $5.50. Interestingly, the theater prices tickets after 5:30pm on Fri-Sun and holidays at $1 more than their normal ticket price of $9.50.

I haven't seen such drastic price differences, but I have seen price differences of a few dollars between different chains before, especially when there's differences in their matinee times, as there is above.
Old 08-07-10, 08:15 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by Jay G.
Those are two different theatrical chains, with different pricing policies. Temecula Edwards is run by Regal, and has Sat & Sun matinee pricing until 2pm, so your showing just missed out (although the matinee is still $9).

Temecula Movie Experience is part of a local California chain called "The Movie Experience." Matinees before 3pm are $5.50. Interestingly, the theater prices tickets after 5:30pm on Fri-Sun and holidays at $1 more than their normal ticket price of $9.50.

I haven't seen such drastic price differences, but I have seen price differences of a few dollars between different chains before, especially when there's differences in their matinee times, as there is above.

Just got back and the theater was packed. I would have loved to see it in IMAX but could just not justify spending $36 for my son and I when we spent $11 and spent the difference on a nice lunch with some money left over.

Originally Posted by TomOpus
Your example is comparing IMAX to non-IMAX theaters.
I get the IMAX price difference just don't get how there could be such a drastic difference when comparing the non-IMAX version at two theaters a mile apart.
Old 08-07-10, 09:16 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by amplified
I get the IMAX price difference just don't get how there could be such a drastic difference when comparing the non-IMAX version at two theaters a mile apart.
I thought I already explained it pretty well: Two different theater chains with:

A) Two different matinee times.
B) Two different matinee prices.

If you look at the non-matinee showings, there's only about a dollar difference between the theaters.
Old 08-07-10, 09:54 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by Jay G.
I thought I already explained it pretty well: Two different theater chains with:

A) Two different matinee times.
B) Two different matinee prices.

If you look at the non-matinee showings, there's only about a dollar difference between the theaters.

But that's not my point. I'm comparing matinee prices and how much of a difference there is with the same film at around the same time regardless of the theater chain.

And yes I do realize that they are two different theater chains. It's like saying that it makes sense for ARCO to sell a gallon of gas for $3.00 and the Shell across the street sells the same grade gas for $6.00. I guarantee that the Shell would get absolutely no business with that much of a price difference.

Last edited by amplified; 08-07-10 at 09:56 PM.
Old 08-07-10, 10:18 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Well, that comparison isn't exactly equitable, since gas prices are, to a degree, determined by oil (a commodity) prices. However, though not quite as extreme as your example, it is still quite common for different gas station companies to charge wildly different prices. Where I live there are variances of up to 50 cents per gallon, depending on where you fill up. They lure people in with different fuel additives, customer reward programs, and other "incentives". And yes, I do see lots of people happily pulling into those overpriced stations and fueling their vehicles.

The point is, different chains set different ticket prices, and people are willing, for a variety of reasons, to pay the higher price charged by some chains. Maybe they like the popcorn better (yes, I have heard that cited on more than one occasion as to why someone preferred one chain over another). Maybe the auditoriums are better-maintained. But whatever their reason, people pay the higher prices, even when they could get tickets for the same theater much cheaper through outlets such as Costco.
Old 08-07-10, 11:00 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by RoboDad
Well, that comparison isn't exactly equitable, since gas prices are, to a degree, determined by oil (a commodity) prices.
Not to mention that the cost to run a showing is (more or less) a fixed price, no matter how many seats are filled. Say it costs an average of $100 to run one screening of a film (cost of A/C for the theater, running the projector for 2 hours, paying the cleaning crew to clean up afterwards..). Assuming the studios take an average of 50% of the gross, Regal only needs 23 people at $9 a ticket to show up to break even. Meanwhile, The Movie Experience needs at least 37 people at each screening.

There's also supply/demand pricing going on. At $9, 40 people show up, for a gross of $360. At $5.50, 60 people show up, for a gross of $330. So even though the higher priced theater sold less tickets, it could make more money. Keep in mind that these prices are for times which people are less inclined to see a movie at, so you're only going to get so many people in the theater, no matter if your prices are drastically lower.

And I know that there's also concession sales to factor into when talking about greater attendance, but let's face it: if you're going early to see a film to save on the ticket price, you're likely going to eat elsewhere (as amplified did) to save on the concession prices.

There's also showtimes to think about. While amplified may have been free for both showings, other people's schedules may force their hand on what theater to go to. There's also the fact that, as different theaters, they do have slightly different films that they screen. Both were screening Inception, but if you had wanted to see, say Grown Ups, Middle Men, Eclipse, Toy Story 3, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, or Step Up 3 in 3D, then the Regal would've been your only option of those two theaters.

And don't discount basic human ignorance. A lot of people still probably just drive up to the first theater that has the film they want at the time they want, and don't pay attention to the price.

Finally, Regal is a national chain, and thus has a national policy on matinees that makes sense to them, likely honed over years of being in the market. The Movie Experience is a local chain that has adjusted its pricing for its specific regional market. Both could be doing fine with their different price schemes, despite the incongruity it causes at that specific location.
Old 08-07-10, 11:13 PM
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Re: Major ticket price differences in same city!

Originally Posted by Jay G.
And don't discount basic human ignorance. A lot of people still probably just drive up to the first theater that has the film they want at the time they want, and don't pay attention to the price.
Sometimes people are, for whatever reason, also just loyal to a specific theatre company and only see movies at that theatre, or theatre chain.

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