Movie Theaters Plan Price Jump This Weekend

You might want to catch a movie tonight after work because ticket prices will be increasing this weekend.

According to Wallet Pop, movie theaters owned by Regal Entertainment, Cinemark Holdings and AMC Entertainment will be raising prices on 3-D and Imax movies by as much as 26% starting on Friday. That could mean prices as high as $20 a ticket, and in fact, one New York City theater (AMC Loews Kips Bay) will now charge $19.50, up from $16.50.

The hope, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that movie theaters will be able to cash in more on recent 3-D hits like Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Probably not a bad move, especially considering that another blockbuster, Titanic, is scheduled to come out on 3-D down the road. But are 3-D movies really worth that much more money?

“It appears that theater owners increasingly believe that consumers are so ‘hungry’ for 3-D content that they will not mind paying substantially higher prices relative to 2-D screenings and that for the best 3-D presentation, even greater ticket price premiums are achievable,” wrote Richard Greenfield, a media analyst, according to Barron’s. As the one person in the world who has yet to see Avatar in 3-D, I think I’ll just have to take Greenfield’s word on that.

Unfortunately, regular movie prices will be going up a little bit too. A recent survey by Barron’s of 10 random cinemas across the U.S. found that prices will rise 4.1% this weekend for 2-D movies. So, if you were already spending $20 on a pair of tickets, now it will cost close to another dollar on top of that.

It might be easier to stomach this price increase if movie theaters weren’t already making a killing gouging customers. One report from last year found that theaters overcharge so much on concessions that they are actually able to pocket 85 cents of every dollar spent.