In a World of Overpriced Movie Tickets, One Cheap Day a Week Is Coming


Coming soon to a theater near you: movie tickets that are not outrageously expensive. Well, maybe.

The previews look good. Earlier this week, the National Association of Theater Owners announced that it's considering lowering ticket prices one day per week. The pilot program would likely happen on an off night — so forget Friday or Saturday — and it'll start in only one state. (Commence guessing pool now.)

This might seem like baby steps, but they are baby steps in the right direction for young (often somewhat broke) movie lovers. And for the movie business these steps are huge, especially considering how historically reluctant the industry has been to lower prices.

We all know the story: A cheap, fun movie outing was practically America's favorite pastime. But over the years, higher prices made it a costly indulgence. Today the national ticket average hovers around $9. If you live in a city like New York or Los Angeles, they're easily $14 or $15 a pop.

In these cash–strapped times, consumers, especially young ones, are just staying home. Why spend $30 on a movie and snacks when you could stream a movie for free on your computer? Or sign up for Netflix for less than $10 a month? Of course, the at-home experience is different, but movies are now often thought of as prohibitively expensive.

Because of these economic realities, the movie industry has taken a major hit. Yes, big blockbusters like The Avengers rake in billions, but ticket sales themselves have been declining pretty dramatically in the past few years. The difference between sales of summer movie tickets from 2002 and 2012 was 100 million tickets. Not great for business.

The industry is finally coming to terms with the idea that keeping people in the seats means, yes, cinema-worthy movies, but also affordable prices. Finally.