AMC charges more for the best cinema seats, less for the worst

COVID-19 pandemic devastated the movie theater businesswhich, with simultaneous victory of Avatar: The Road of Water and craters of most Oscar nominations this year at the box office, still returning to normal. But just because the movies are back doesn’t mean the business has settled down; if anything, AMC Theaters’ new decision to charge more for decent seats heralds a future where everything is up for sale to stay afloat.

On Monday, the theater chain announced a new program, “Sightline at AMC,” that divides theater seats into tiers of different value. According to a press release, the Standard Sightline seats are “the most popular in the auditorium and feature traditional fare”; Value Sightline seats are “primarily in the front row of the auditorium and cost less than Standard Sightline seats”; Preferred Sightline seats “are usually in the middle of the auditorium and cost a bit more than Standard Sightline seats.” The new system will debut in select theaters in New York, Chicago and Kansas City this Friday and nationwide later this year.

While no price was stated in the announcement, AMC’s website reflected the new system, with the Priority Sight adding $1 to the standard price and the Sight Line adding $2 off. (In New York, the standard ticket price for an evening show is $24.49.) Here’s what it looks like in reality:

Screenshot of the AMC Theater website, showing a screening of Magic Mike's Last Dance at a theater in New York City, with sections divided into standard, preferred, and value Line of Sight sections .

Image: AMC Theater via Polygon

The new Sightline system immediately links to AMC’s “A-List” loyalty program. Any customer who has signed up for the subscription service will receive Preferred Sightline coverage free of charge.

“Sightline at AMC more closely aligns AMC’s seating pricing approach with the approach of many other entertainment venues, offering experience-based pricing and a different way for audiences to find value at venues.” film,” EVP and CMO Eliot Hamlisch of AMC Theaters said in a statement.

In a time of debate about the value of the theatrical experience and whether chains like AMC and others are adopting standards that can truly entice audiences to return to the movies, the Sightline show is … a choice. William Gibson wishes he could imagine a backward world-building word for cinemas of the near future like “Preferred Sightline”. The gut feeling that this might not be the best direction for movie theaters seems shared by Hamlisch, who takes an immediate defensive approach in his sales.

“While every seat at AMC offers a great movie viewing experience,” he said, “we know there are some audiences who prioritize their particular seats and others who prioritize watching movies that are worth watching. . Sightline at AMC responds to both sentiments to help ensure that our guests have more control over their experience, so that every trip to AMC is a great one.”

EQUAL RRR SS director Rajamouli quote in a recent Polygon feature, the future of movies really depends on the exhibitors. “There are kids growing up watching entertainment on their personal devices and getting them to the theater is a challenge,” he said, “but the global industry has to accept that it is a challenge. . We have to really think about how to get them into theaters. We need to think about filmmakers. We need exhibitors to think about how to make the environment more attractive for them to come and see the film. We need to do those exercises. Just hoping won’t help.”

Visibility-optimized pricing? AMC hopes so – and in terms of profitability at least.

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