Movie Theaters Will Begin Testing Out 'Discount Days'

Movie ticket prices are on the rise, while attendance is (not surprisingly) on the decline. Can a "discount day" bring people back to the cinema?

Film fanatics might have reason to rejoice in 2014, as it looks as if there may eventually be a way to pay less for movies that doesn't entail rolling into a theater before 10:30 am. During a speech at CinemaCon this week, John Fithian, the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, announced that the organization will test out this crazy thing called "discounts." Fithian remained tight-lipped about the details, although it seems likely that the lower pricing will be valid on an off-day in which foot traffic is disproportionately low.

The organization wants to discern whether cheaper prices might reverse the alarming decline of movie theater attendance. In 2013, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "Frequent moviegoers between the ages of 25 and 39 decreased from 9.9 million to 8.2 million, and from 5.8 million to 3.2 million among those between the ages of 40 and 49." Attendance from children and people over the age of 50, however, remained high.

Meanwhile, the average national ticket price has gone up by 2% to $8.13. USA Today claims that this is "largely because of the surcharge on 3D and IMAX tickets, which often adds $3 to $5 to a ticket." However, people in urban areas (like us chumps in New York) will pay as much as $15 for a standard ticket. For many, these mounting prices mean that a night at the movies isn't as cheap as it once might have seemed.

The organization's test is admittedly very limited in scope; they will offer the promotion in one state only, and for a short period of time. But despite this small execution, the move is significant. "Theaters have been uniformly steadfast in their stance against ticket discounting ... because studios are promised a hard cut of each ticket," Mashable explains. "Any discount would slice directly into the theaters' take." Thus, discounting initiatives from Groupon and Moviepass have "had only limited success, largely withering in the face of intense exhibitor and studio pressure."

So while many of us will probably miss out on the money-saving benefits of NATO's experiment, its mere existence speaks volumes about what may be on the horizon for the movie-going consumer. Readers, how much are you willing to spend on the movies? Have you cut back on your movie-going at all? Let us know in the comments below!

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Lindsay Sakraida
Contributing Writer

Lindsay Sakraida specializes in writing about retail trends and lifestyle subjects. She's also obsessed with music, movies, and tennis. Follow her on Twitter at @LinSakraida.
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Now that a movie ticket, popcorn and a drink costs as much as the DVD/BR disc does when it comes out, multiplied by the # of people in my family, we don't go nearly as much.
I go to Carmike Theaters. They have discount Tuesday when a small popcorn, small drink and candy are $2. each, and discount tickets ($5.75) daily between 4 and 5:30 pm
Afraid of bed bug exposure, even in the nicest ones. Safer to stream it from my bug-free couch.
I don't go at all I just wait till it comes out later.
Patrons should consult their local theater's box office about deals or promotions going on. For instance, the largest group of theaters in my state has a certain day of the week where tickets are at matinee pricing all day, and is honored for all standard, IMAX, D-BOX, or Dolby Atmos showings. Granted it's an off-peak day like Tuesday or Thursday, but it's one way in which you can save at the cinema. Some companies also accept competitor coupons or promotions, so it's worth asking.
We have Sunday and Tuesday as $5 Value Days at Regal. However, the mall is about to be torn down and the theaters will be replaced - sometime near the end of 2015. So there goes our Value Days!
I don't go to the theaters as much as I used to, partly due to cost. The local theaters are about $9.50 for a prime time, add $2 for 3D, and another ~$3 for IMax or Ultrascreen. At about $15 each for a prime movie for 2 people, you can buy the 3D version in a few months for the same price.
I usually go to matinees because they save money and I love the theater experience. But at these prices, it's basically worth waiting till it comes out on bluray. Also, it has to be a major film or something I'm really interested in. I've seen more than my share of movies wishing I hadn't wasted the money or time. (Cloud Atlas anyone?)