There’s been a significant decline in movie theater attendance, as seen in the numbers for this past year. As we reported earlier, 2014 reached a 20-year low, which is not good. While we all had our inklings as to the culprit, new research has been released to confirm our suspicions: crazy high movie prices are to blame.

According to research from PwC, moviegoers spent an average of $8.08 for a movie ticket in Q3 of last year. Based on a culmination of research and a survey of 1,044 consumers, this greatly impacted peoples’ decisions to go see a movie in theaters. This isn’t all that shocking, when you also consider those who spend even more in bigger cities and for 3D and IMAX offerings. The report reads in part:
High ticket prices are, by far, the number one reason for dissatisfaction across age demos and by movie-going frequency. Despite advanced technology, better seating, improved concessions and the return of 3D movies, the negative of higher ticket prices is difficult to counter-act."

Movie theaters are also facing competition from the age of digital movie-watching options. From On-Demand, iTunes renting and downloads, Netflix, Hulu and the like, it’s becoming more appealing to stay in and watch something on the tube or a computer screen than in the significantly pricier theater setting. More varied and better quality options also are pluses. The PwC report notes that 41% of survey participants said that the movies they saw in theaters were not as interesting to them. Then there’s HBO, which is becoming a self-sustaining movie- and TV-making entity that can entertain folks at home for the mere cost of a subscription. That can’t be helping the case for theaters much.

However, hope is not all lost. The report recommends that theater chains fight back by promoting their technological options (e.g. 3D, IMAX and wider screen options) and beefing up their special incentives (e.g. monthly movie subscriptions and discounts). A few studios were trying out special "Super Ticket" packages, like for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Pacific Rim and Anchorman 2, which included a variety of goodies ranging from included popcorn and soft drink options to early screenings and a download for when the film becomes available on iTunes. The report also notes that, while older audiences are heading out the door, 18- to 30-year-olds are "strong" and more willing to go to theaters.

All in all, though, this doesn’t look good for the movie-going experience as we know it. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas said a while ago during a talk at the University of Southern California that the future looked bleak. Predicting movie ticket prices would skyrocket to unfathomable highs, the two imagine the act of going to the movies would eventually become comparable to blowing a ton of cash on baseball tickets. If that’s true, than we’re all closer than ever to becoming the Wall-E generation of moviegoers, getting all our entertainment from a small screen.



Oh wait! We pretty much have that now with iPads.

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