Canadian Movie Chain Looking To Start Charging Extra For Middle Seats

By Eric Eisenberg 2014-05-15 19:56:39discussion comments
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Unless you go to a cinema that has assigned seating, there's a pretty good chance that you follow common movie theater etiquette, which is basically its own special twist on "first come, first served." If a person goes to a movie theater extra early, they've earned the right to sit wherever they like - presumably right square in the middle. If a person is late to a screening, it's nobody's fault but their own that they have to sit in the front row and crane their neck. It's a system that has been working efficiently for years, but now a movie theater in Canada is needlessly trying to shake that system up.

According to The Toronto Star, the theater chain company Cineplex is now planning to experiment with charging extra money for good seats in their theaters. For now the idea is being limited to the theater located in Toronto’s Manulife Centre, but the idea is that movie goers will have to pay $2-$3 extra if they want tickets to sit in "the middle rows of the theater". In an official statement, Cineplex spokesperson Pat Marshall explained the idea noting that patrons didn't mind spending extra money on other premium offers the company has given in the past. Some examples include what are called UltraAVX screenings - movies shown in theaters with larger-than-normal screens with advanced sound systems - and "VIP Cinema," which gives customers access to a private box office, in-seat concessions and more. There is a $3-$5 surcharge for the UltraAVX and VIP Cinemas are $7-$12 extra.

Regular movie-goers are probably going to hate this idea simply because they're now being charged for something that they've spent their whole lives getting for free - but at the same time it's not exactly super hard to see that Cineplex is just following simple supply-and-demand economics. Seats directly in the middle of a movie theater are absolutely more valuable than those on the sides or in the front or back, and now that premium comes with a price tag.

But here's the problem: the pricing should work both ways. If the best seats in the house are going to cost customers extra money, then it only makes sense that the worst seats in the house would come at a discounted price. This is basically the same system that has been found in stadiums and arenas for decades. Yes, Cineplex would make less money off of their "premium ticket" idea if discounted tickets existed, but it would be the only real way to really be fair to the customer.

If you really hate this idea. really don't want it to spread elsewhere in the world, and happen to live in Toronto, there's a fairly simple solution to this: don't purchase premium tickets at the Cineplex Toronto’s Manulife Centre, and better yet find a completely different theater to go to - preferably one with a fairer pricing system.
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