Movie tickets are too expensive!

Image credits: Frank Whitney/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Like untold millions of other proud Americans, I’m going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this weekend. I’ve already purchased my tickets, which (living in New York City) cost $13 a piece, plus a pre-release surcharge. If I wanted to spring for IMAX tickets, it would cost $18. That is ridiculous — especially since, like most moviegoers, I’m incapable of enjoying a movie without  a bag of (overpriced) popcorn and a medium cup of cherry coke. And I’m just seeing the movie with my girlfriend. What’s a family of four to do? Now, admittedly, New York prices are notoriously expensive, but if you ask me, theater tickets all over the country are too goshdarn pricey. Especially considering all the added charges for (mostly awful) 3-D movies, isn’t it time we ask ourselves: Are swelling ticket prices ruining the moviegoing experience? 

When you know for a fact that a single date night at the movies will cost upwards of $25 (and that’s if you smuggle in snacks), you’re generally less likely to take a chance on a movie. Some friends and I had planned to go and see the remake of Clash of the Titans, but on opening weekend it was only playing in 3-D at all the local theaters — and we simply couldn’t rationalize the massive 3-D ticket cost with our knowledge that Clash was probably going to be just okay at best. Conversely, I actually went to go see Charlie St. Cloud, which was a bad movie, but it was made even worse by the knowledge that I could’ve spent my money purchasing four episodes of Mad Men on iTunes. Or renting a couple movies. Or donating to my favorite charity. Or flushing my money down the drain so that the baby alligators in the sewers could use my $10 bill as a blanket.

PopWatchers, are you annoyed by high ticket prices? Have you ever purposefully avoided a movie because you just didn’t think it was worth the price of admission? Did anyone pay the full 3-D cost for The Last Airbender, and if so, are you considering a class-action lawsuit?

Comments (143 total) Add your comment
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  • Courtney

    I guess I’m lucky because mine was only $8.50, but yes overall they’re too expensive

    • Seddie is meant to be

      I only go to the movies in the AM when tickets are $1-2 cheaper, less crowds of punks making noise, and only when they movie is epic and it makes a difference seeing it on the big screen (Lord of the Rings, Batman, Star Wars, etc)

      • j

        yup, us, too. matinee tickets are sometimes only 8 bucks depending on the theater! plus, we are now really selective about what we see.

      • j

        also, we haven’t bought popcorn/soda/nachos/ice cream in forever. i just can’t do it. so that saves us some money, but still.

      • ty

        omg me too…I only go on sundays before noon…and I think it still might be about $8 also I hate all the 3d showings. 3D is not compatible with my eyesight. I grew up in new york and I remember it being over $10 in the 90’s and then I moved to northern va and it was $5.25 I thought wow but thats long gone now :(

    • Hillary

      We don’t go as a family to movies, not worth the extra $9 (matinee) or $10.50 (after 4pm) for kids movie. And I refuse to pay for 3-D for a kids movie so we find a theater showing it in regular format, sometimes a few weeks after the opening.

    • tvfan

      I used to go to more than 20 movies a year, now I see less than 10 and wait to rent everything else.

      • Moleman in the Morning

        I am the same way. Between sky high ticket and concession prices, and the fact that I can get a similar (if not completely comparable) experience watching a movie at home in HD. Why waste the gas to drive to the theater, pay through the nose for tickets and snacks, and have to put up with inevitable jerkwads sitting nearby?
        If I’m going to the theater, its because its a giant summer blockbuster that just HAS to be seen in 3D, or its a small arthouse movie that I can see on the cheap (and with much cheaper concessions) at the local indie theater.

  • cheri

    Yes, way too expensive. Throw 3D in there are we are done. For my husband and I to take our daughter to see Toy Store 3, it cost nearly $50 after snacks. Sucks and is why we rarely go.

    • Rosa

      I used to go to movies all the time. Sometimes I’d even see the same movie multiple times, if it was one I really liked. But I was layed off in March, and I’ve been to see 2 movies since then. And they were both kids movies with my son. 2 tickets, in 3D, medium popcorn, medium drink to share. There goes $50. I just can’t do it. I feel bad that we have to pick and choose which ones to see, but if you don’t have the $, you don’t have the $. We could do without the snacks, or sneak in our own, but that seems wrong. I don’t want to compromise my integrity infront of my son, just to see a movie. So we wait until they come out on Netflix. And life goes on.

      • Jason

        Not only are movies too expensive, they’re just not as appealing any more. I used to average 20-30 movies a year, easily. This year, I haven’t seen a movie since Inception – that’s over a third of the year that I haven’t gone to see anything. I’ve watched LOTS of Netflix – but nothing has been worth the ridiculous prices lately.

        Though yes, we are going to see Harry Potter this weekend.

  • jason

    In other news, water is wet.

  • Kristen

    I loved Avatar (Last Airbender) but couold not justify the cost of 3D for myself and 4 children. The baby and my husband had to stay home anyway or we would have had to 2nd mortgage our house. And we live in downstate IL.

  • marlene

    i always think about whether the movie is going to be worth the ticket price and that’s why i go to a lot of matinee screenings because too many movies are not worth $13

    • Ryan

      in Ohio, it’s still over 8 dollars most places to see a matinee, not to mention the cost at night :(

      • Chartric

        I thhougt finding this would be so arduous but it’s a breeze!

    • Jessica

      there is a matinee in my town that is $4.50. I love it.

    • candacetx

      the mantinee in my town is 6.50 – I remember when that was the price of a real movie. I am very lucky to have a $1.00 movie theatre in my town (which actually costs 1.50) where I can still have the whole ‘movie experience’ I enjoy so much… without having to take out a 2nd mortgage.

    • KRibbons

      The dollar theatre in my town is out of control cheap. I’ve seen Toy Story 3, Up, SATC2, Despicable Me, Paranormal Activity and more all for .50 cents each. And then a few miles north there is the outdoor theatre which is $4, $7 for a double feature. There is no point in going to a regular theatre which charges $9.50 anymore.

  • Kelsey

    You oughta see what it is in London. Saw a movie at the Leicester Square Odeon for £12, which is about $19! And that was with the student discount.
    I agree that overall they’re too expensive, but you can find deals if you’re patient and shop around. My AMC theatre at home has $5 (yes, $5) tickets before noon most days, and we rack up points like crazy on our MovieWatcher card, which means cheap/free concessions and tickets.
    I think price is what’s eventually going to “correct” the 3D fad, on the plus side. People are not going to shell out a half-again upcharge to see bad 3D. Eventually the market will even out and only “quality” 3D films will thrive.

    • MCS

      I have paid $19 before here in Australia. Lowest I have had in recent months was $13.

    • Dawn

      Ooh, I miss AMC theaters. Those movie watcher rewards were awesome. Only have Regal & Rave here.

  • MC

    Didn’t pay for the 3D on Airbender, and actually kind of liked it the first time around. however, just rewatched it on bluray last night, and man, it was pretty darn bad. LOVE the tv show, really wanted to like the movie, but unfortunately, it’s just pretty bad. lol. and yes, movie prices are why airbender is the last movie i’ve seen in theaters, although i am going to see harry potter at midnight tonight! but then probably wont go again until it’s something i REALLY want to see.

  • jon

    It is deffinitely making me change my movie viewing. I did not see Resident Evil, Saw, my soul to take which are all movies I normally would because the local was only showing in 3d at 12 a pop. I’m not going to flush money on a movie that might be o.k. to hve it only be o.k. in 3d. I still go to movies once a week, on dollar popcorn days, but I won’t waste money on 3d or even movies that might suck.

    • Scott Mendelson

      And THAT is how 3D is going to kill the theatrical market. Once nearly every tentpole is in 3D, it will be nearly impossible to find a 2D showing, thus making the cheaper, family-friendly options non-existent. Charge whatever you want for 3D, but deny people a 2D alternative at your peril.

    • llevinso

      Yeah, I used to go to the movies all the time, back when it was affordable. I’d see movies that I thought wouldn’t be too great, but I’d have a good time killing time there. Now, unless I think the movie will really be amazing, like Inception or Black Swan which I am looking forward to, I wait until I can Netflix it. Otherwise it’s just TOO EXPENSIVE!!

  • Antonio A

    Wow, I payed $3.50 for HP today (first showing) here in Puerto Rico! I hope they keep the prices low!

    • Marie

      I live in Puerto Rico too. The movie in the weeks are really cheap, especially if is first showing. I have never payed more than ten dollars for a movie ticket, unless it was 3D and I don’t like those.

  • jen

    Interestingly enough, one of our local theaters recently LOWERED their admission prices. Mind you, this is in Oregon where the tickets were already cheaper than most of the country. The popcorn and soda is still outrageously expensive, but the price of admission is better.

    • Liz

      Our theatre offers bargain matinees. The first showing of the day is $5. I only go on days when I can catch the first showing and pay the $5 price.

      • Kobe

        Same here, but we also have a drive in theater that shows two first run films for one price. And on Wednesdays it’s $8 per carload.

  • a person

    I saw the Last Airbender in 3D and it was the first of the new type of 3d movie that i had seen…it was not very good and i will never pay to see a 3d movie again!

    • TheRealEverton

      It wasn’t a 3D movie it was a crappy, rushed ‘conversion’. Try Tron or any other film actually planned and shot I’n 3D and you may change your mind.

  • tvgirl48

    That’s the one advantage of being a Midwesterner – the movie costs aren’t as crazy high as in big cities. But I think one of the reasons I can’t stand 3D is the effect it has on movie prices. Some movies just won’t offer 2D as an option so you HAVE to buy the overpriced ticket. Matinee screenings are the best – fewer annoying ppl and cheaper ticket prices.

    • bkwrm

      I would love to go to matinee showings but my two nearby theaters end matinee at 3pm during the week and 11pm during the weekend. This kind makes it hard to make to a matinee showing. Who wants to go the movies that early.

      • Kobe

        Our matinee prices end at 5:00 P.M.

    • Tarchannon

      Hey, I’m in the midwest, and the prices are outrageous. Matinees are $10, regulars are $12, minimum $14 for IMAX and about that for a regular screen 3D. A decade ago, I used to go every weekend, but the expense has gotten out of hand. Now I go a few times a year, and then sometimes by myself because not many people will spend that when they can just get a Blu-ray a couple months later (or worse, get it online for free). Honestly, I just don’t understand the Hollywood strategy: they seem to insist on driving people to watch it cheap (or pirate it). Very sad.

      • tvgirl48

        It’s very sad. I’m a person who absolutely LOVES movies and hates having to watch movies or TV on my laptop – the experience of it is taken away. But I can’t justify spending tons of cash on movies I can wait a few months to see for free or much cheaper on DVD.

      • pede

        I’m lucky enough to belong to an advanced screening group and to have a bargain theater that plays month old movies for $2, otherwise I haven’t actually paid full price to see a movie since the last Harry Potter film. And from what I’ve seen on Netflix, I am SO glad I didn’t waste my money on any of the crap that has been released this year, with the exception of Inception. Just as sporting events are becoming too expensive for the average family to attend, so are movies. Maybe the greedy studios will realize this before it’s too late, but I highly doubt it.

  • shanebendrell

    If you buy a ticket to an IMAX 3-D movie over Fandango we’ve eclipsed the $20 mark….for 1 TICKET!! Yes, yes they are tooo expensive!!

    That being said you cheated with this blog. Asking if movies are too expensive is akin to asking if we hate taxes. :P

    • Jason

      The difference is taxes are a necessary evil. Ridiculous prices at the movies are greedy Hollywood studios and movie theaters gouging us because, if we want to see movies on a big screen, what other choice do we have?

  • Sparky

    The cost of things are going up because people aren’t buying enough… movie going is no exception. I’m sure movie tickets are becoming pricey because illegal downloading is becoming more of a thing. On top of that, with more technology becoming part of the movie watching experience, it’s no surprise that going to the movies is one expensive investment.

    It does pay off to have a few friends who work at a movie theater, that’s for sure.

    • Tarchannon

      Then it is dang stupid to keep pursuing the same failing concept, right? (They must be Republicans!) I’d suggest cutting the price IN HALF, and get butts in the seats again. It’s not like they are keeping anyone from seeing their movies – just paying for it. Bring back (and acceptably priced) Saturday afternoons at the movies!

      • Jordan

        I think you’re right. Make going to the movies something everyone can afford again, and illegal downloading would take a hit for sure.

  • Dave

    Yeah, it’s $10 where I live, but if you’re seeing a movie in 3D or IMAX, it’ll be anywhere between $13-17. It’s annoying. Over the past two years, I have definitely cut back on the number of movies I see. I used to go almost every weekend, especially in the summer. Nowadays, I’m seeing maybe 1 movie a month (a little more during the summer). The last movie I saw was The Social Network, and that was like 6 weeks ago. Seeing Harry Potter tonight at midnight.

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