Inflation Nation: AMC Theaters Hiking Ticket Prices with ‘Screen Sightline’ Pricing

This picture taken on April 27, 2018 shows people watching a movie at a cinema in Wanda Gr
WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images

Movie theater chain AMC Entertainment is implementing higher ticket prices with a new, three-tiered pricing based on how easy it is to see the screen from your seat.

Calling the plan “Sightline AMC,” the chain will charge more for seats that are in the “preferred sightline” of the screen and less for third tier seats in the wings or in the first rows. The second tier is being defined as “standard sightline.”
The preferred seats are generally those in the middle of the theater, where viewers don’t have to sit sideways or crane necks to enjoy the show.

The new ticket prices will not be charged to “Stubs A-List” members, who will be automatically given the top tier seats, to encourage customers to join the program.

The Sightline at AMC pricing plan is set to be rolled out in select theaters as a test run. The chain did not reveal a list of the participating locations. The initial rollout is expected to continue throughout 2023.

“Sightline at AMC more closely aligns AMC’s seat pricing approach to that of many other entertainment venues, offering experienced-based pricing and another way for moviegoers to find value at the movies,” said AMC Entertainment EVP and CMO Eliot Hamlisch. “While every seat at AMC delivers an amazing moviegoing experience, we know there are some moviegoers who prioritize their specific seat and others who prioritize value moviegoing. Sightline at AMC accommodates both sentiments to help ensure that our guests have more control over their experience, so that every trip to an AMC is a great one.”

AMC recently sold a stake in its company to Saudi Arabian entertainment company Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) for a $30 million cash infusion to help prop up the financially troubled chain. The company then handed over its theaters in Saudi Arabia to SEVEN as part of the deal.

Theaters have faced tough economic times in the last half dozen years. According to analysts, between 2018 and 2022, movie theater attendance dropped by half, and that drop began years before the pandemic further complicated the financial picture with mass shutdowns. The pandemic hysteria still reverberates in the industry today. Even a year after the pandemic year of 2020, half of U.S. moviegoers said they were still avoiding theaters in 2021.

Still, the numbers have been dwindling for some time. In 2018, theaters earned $11.9 billion in revenue. In 2019, that dropped to $11.3 billion. Naturally the pandemic years were a disaster for theater chains. But the full non-pandemic year of 2022 was still off, earning only $7.4 billion, a wide miss from analysts who projected a $9.2 billion domestic box office for that year.

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