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Film

Would you pay more for a better seat at the movies?

Posted by Derek Flack / May 15, 2014

Cineplex Odeon pricesHow much is a prime movie seat worth to you? Cineplex Odeon is betting that cinema-goers are willing to pay a premium for the opportunity not to crane their necks with a new pilot project that will see increased prices for seats in the middle of the theatre. The theory will be tested at the Varsity this summer, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

"We've had great success with our UltraAVX cinemas ($3-$5 surcharge) as well as our VIP cinemas ($7-$12 surcharge) which both offer reserved seating; and so people really like that opportunity," spokeswoman Pat Marshall told the paper. "I sort of position it akin to an aircraft where you have your regular coach seating, then you might want a bit more amenities, so you go into business class, and then you have a first-class."

Get ready for some drama at the start of your next movie, when the would-be clever dude who's holding six seats in the middle row is bounced because he bought a regular ticket. You know what? I can actually get behind this if only to watch the human drama play out before the film.

Discussion

38 Comments

Moon / May 15, 2014 at 09:54 am
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No wonder people download movies. It's a movie people, be smart leave earlier and get a good seat. I have no sympathy for people who show up late and have to sit up front. It's not like the movie times are a surprise to everyone.
Jacob / May 15, 2014 at 09:55 am
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I can't see this working out, unless they plan on employing more ushers or installing a velvet rope.
TBIT / May 15, 2014 at 09:58 am
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Mixing the free for all and the reserved seating in the same cinema would be a mistake. But I am more than willing to pay more for reserved seating and a better movie going experience, i.e. enforced quiet, no cell phones, etc.
Gloria / May 15, 2014 at 10:07 am
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Um, yeah, call me about surcharges when they finally stop people from flashing their cellphones in the middle of the movie to check the time (YOU KNOW MOVIE RUN TIMES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE? That many movies run between 90-120 minutes?) or check their texts, whatever.
Yvonne T. / May 15, 2014 at 10:10 am
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The reserved seating thing is not uncommon. In Hong Kong, you basically pick your seat at the time of booking. That way, you DON'T have to arrive early and still get the seat you want. I don't think they charge a premium though, it's just the norm.

It's a great concept because if you're already having to sit through a 3 hour movie, adding an extra 30 minutes of just sitting is gonna hurt.

It's the convenience store concept, you pay for convenience. If time is money, then it's well worth it.

However, I can see why people would be upset because some people are perfectly happy showing up early and now that choice is being taken away from them.
ok dudez / May 15, 2014 at 10:14 am
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Movies are always free.
MrJones / May 15, 2014 at 10:19 am
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And the company wonders why people view them as a cold, passionless, corporation. There was a time when Cineplex focused on movies, when they made themselves a haven for movie-goers... The bottom line is obviously important, but it would be nice to at least have the impression that the customer comes first. Anyway, congratulations Cineplex on finding a new premium to charge your customers. Hey, how about you continue preshow content through the end credits of the film? People will love that.
buff / May 15, 2014 at 10:22 am
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cash grab. How about paying less for middle seats instead? that seems like the nicer offer. Try something new theaters your days are numbered
Seymour / May 15, 2014 at 10:22 am
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Just as long as I can still download it for free. Thanks internet!
TJorgenson / May 15, 2014 at 10:23 am
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What a horrible idea. As if there isn't already enough of a two tier system everywhere. At a tike when people are fighting back against classism they are introducing a system where those with money get the middle seats and the poor peons get relegated to the gutters. I will tear up my scene card and stay at home thanks.
DirtyT / May 15, 2014 at 10:23 am
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Personally I hate this new wave of "If you're willing to pay, then you can have it better than those who aren't".

Remember when we all had to sit in the SAME movie theatre? Remember when it didn't matter how much money you had, because if you showed up early, you could still get the best seats? Remember when you had to wait in line with everybody else?

My concern is not about being fair, because I could care less about being fair. I think that having to stand in line with everybody else builds character.. Same with sitting in the neck bending/twisting/breaking row in the theatre..
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from ok dudez / May 15, 2014 at 10:28 am
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the aren't made for free
Steve / May 15, 2014 at 10:33 am
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This is stupid. It makes no sense why North America doesn't do seat booking en masse, not just for a huge extra price.
mike in leslieville replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / May 15, 2014 at 10:33 am
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the aren't???
Ann / May 15, 2014 at 10:43 am
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As someone else said, this is not new.When I first went to the movies in Canada I was confused and a bit disoriented by the fact that my ticket had no seat number and even more when I entered and realized everyone sat wherever they wanted. My experiences was different. When buying a ticket we had different prices depending on where we wanted/or could afford to seat and would choose accordingly. None of the mess of popcorn and drinks and litter all over either, there was a break midway in the movie and we could buy something to eat or drink then, but not take it inside. Often people brought something inside their purses but were so careful not to call attention to it that there was both no mess and no noise. It seems to me that having to pay people to clean the mess after the movie comes to about the same as hiring ushers to take people to their seats if needed. I was used to see ushers at every entrance but mostly people could find their seats without them anyways. Ok I guess I'm just old, but going to the movies was a pleasant experience. The movie theaters where beautiful buildings - some quite old and with beautiful architecture - , the seats were comfortable, there was art in the walls of waiting and eating areas... then I came here and was faced with block buildings usually smack in the middle of a mall, nondescript or just plain ugly, the smell of popcorn and the garbage on the floors, running for the best seats people talking loud during the movies... it paled in comparison. I rarely go to the movies here.
Ann replying to a comment from Ann / May 15, 2014 at 10:43 am
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* my experiences were different
Maybe not / May 15, 2014 at 10:44 am
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Not a good idea. Should be either all assigned seating, at no extra cost, as it's done in some countries, or just leave it as is. Ousting seat holders who had arrived early, for some wealthy latecomers, is just asking for trouble.
Rob / May 15, 2014 at 10:57 am
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I see why movie theaters are doing this, but in fairness they've got it backwards. They should have offered a discount for people who had to sit in terrible close seats, rather than charge more for seats that are decent. They decided how to build the theaters and shoved in terrible seats near the front to make more money. Why should we have to suffer through it? They've also kept ticket prices artificially high even after generating greater revenue through commercials at the start of the movies. We're just pawns. You're better off subscribing to Netflix and buy some shares in Cineplex so they start paying you.
J / May 15, 2014 at 11:15 am
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Terrible. Not only classist, but also... I think they are shopping themselves In the foot: if everyone decides to pay the extra couple of bucks because they don't want the shit seats, those tickets won't be sold. People can easily just wait for the next session or go to another theater if all the good seats are taken. I would.
GoodPoint / May 15, 2014 at 11:29 am
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TJorgenson >
DirtyT / May 15, 2014 at 11:30 am
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Humber Cinemas is looking better and better.
Sandman / May 15, 2014 at 11:48 am
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I have no problem with it. If it means not interacting with screaming babies and bieber-cyrus wannabes -- I'll pay the extra money!
Trevor / May 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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Seems to defeat the purpose of VIP, AVX, and IMAX seating, which I do use. A price gouge to squeeze the last bit of revenue out of customers.
DirtyT replying to a comment from Sandman / May 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm
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Sandman, why are you interacting with screaming babies at the movie theatre?
4ChanApologist / May 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm
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As much as I hate gouging like this, and refuse to go to the movie theatres, there's an interesting reason why they're always coming up with new ways of gouging you:

The distribution contract with the movie studio means that the theatres lose 80% of the ticket sales back to the movie studio in exchange for the film lease. So of that $20 ticket, they get $4 to cover their expenses (rent, staff, power, etc.)

The amount of each ticket dollar that the studios take has increased 150% in the last 10-15 years, leaving theatres to make up that money anywhere they can.

don't wanna sit next to you / May 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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I think the main issue with this pilot is that you no longer get to choose who you sit next to. I value being able to walk in and decide not to sit next to a bunch of people who are already being noisy. Not to mention that 2 of the larger theatres at Varsity have hardly any incline so if I can't choose my seat I'm most likely going to have someone's head blocking my view.

No thank you Cineplex

No thank yo / May 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm
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I'll stick to downloading 1080p movies online (takes about ten mins per movie). The whole gang (10 or so people) end up saving up to $200 + the cost of food/drinks.

Haven't been to the movies in a long time due to these bs charges.
mike in parkdale / May 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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^ Movie theaters make almost all their money on food. The markup on popcord, salt and fountain drinks is nearly criminal. I know the studios get the lion's share of box office, but $20+ for a large popcorn and two fountain drinks is highway robbery.
Yep! / May 15, 2014 at 01:33 pm
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I stopped going to the movies, when the admission price for 1 went past $10. I can by a new DVD for that price. I also have the benefit of movie goers overall opinions on how good the film is (not that my judgement rests solely on others opinions). At home viewing is comfortable, clean and safe. I get to choose who attends. I can, eat and drink what I want (not limited to junk food). Best place to have a smooch with your significant others too (privacy).
Deryck / May 15, 2014 at 02:10 pm
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So, what happens when you get a popular movie and the theatre is packed but the premium seats are still available, and late comers arrive in a group but can't find 3-4 seats together? Are they going to be allowed to just use the empty premium seats at that point? Will anyone enforce it? I hardly see that happening if the movie is about to start, just to avoid a confrontation.
Rafa replying to a comment from DirtyT / May 15, 2014 at 02:40 pm
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Great points. This is a slippery slope.
James Punt / May 15, 2014 at 04:39 pm
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Torontonians would gladly pay more for movie theater seating because the majority of them are dumb as shit. Nothing else to say really.
Irwin Mimico / May 15, 2014 at 06:42 pm
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Another one for the boycott list. 1.beer store 2. Cineplex 3.cement batching plants
Iris / May 15, 2014 at 06:44 pm
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I don't see the point of going to movie theatres anymore.
Trick / May 15, 2014 at 09:38 pm
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So here's a tip. If the people who got selected seats come in late especially when the movie had started already: Make a huge fuss over it. Disrupt other movie watchers as well. Then, all of you who felt annoyed, go out to customer service counter and tell them how horrible your expereince is because their #1 rule is to make sure customers have an enjoyable expereince. They'll give you new tickets to your preferred next showing. Eventually they'll realize how stupid this is because they end up losing money.

Also people who talked about how in Hong Kong or other countries (asia) have selected seatings. You do realize that tickets are not $20 right? And EVERY ticket has selected seats printed on them, meaning you dont' have to worry about changing seats if you buy tickets at the door. No free for alls. The concept with cineplex is completely different where they want to make extra money off of something unnecssary. The point is big corporation milking money out of people, not how slow and uncultured theaters are in North America.
Jen / May 16, 2014 at 03:13 am
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I hardly go to the movies and if theatres start to enforce this premium, I doubt I will be going anymore. Not all Cineplex theatres are the same and there's no way in hell I am paying a few bucks for the middle seats in a small shitty theatre. Are they going to charge less for the smaller scale theatres that play movies that have been out longer/or aren't blockbusters? I doubt it!!
john / May 16, 2014 at 09:15 am
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I go watch ULTRA AVX and IMAX at extra cost
but i am not going to pay few $$$ extra just to sit in the middle when everyone else is paying watching the same movie almost with the same view.

yes you can charge extra if others are sitting upstairs and i am sitting downstairs with the best view like the Blue Jays game or something but not a chance i will pay $4~5 more just to sit in the middle seat at a cinema!

dont try to rip ppl off, first come first serve is the best or assign them beforehand also first come first reserve basis..
Sonya Blackwood / June 2, 2014 at 07:15 pm
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As it is I rarely go to the movie theatre due to the exorbitant cost. On the other hand, when I go south of the border I see all the movies I want to see for $6US before 4pm or $8US after 4pm. I am sick and tired of being nickled and dimed to death in Canad, so Cineplex Odeon..go screw yourself. You should be lowering prices to encourage more attendance at your lousy theatres

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