Cineplex to test surcharge for best movie seats | Toronto Star
Premium seating charge. Fuuuuuuuck that.Cineplex to test surcharge for best movie seats
Later this year, at the Odeon Varsity, the company will launch a pilot project in which patrons pay an extra $2-$3 for the prime seats in the middle rows of the theatre.
Later this year, at the Odeon Varsity location, Cineplex will launch a pilot project in which patrons pay an extra $2-$3 for the prime seats in the middle rows of the theatre. CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO
By: Ashante Infantry Business reporter, Published on Wed May 14 2014
Never mind getting to the theatre early and lining up for a chance at the best seats, Cineplex is going to start charging moviegoers extra to sit in them.
Later this year, at the Varsity location in Toronto’s Manulife Centre, the company will launch a pilot project in which patrons pay an extra $2-$3 for the prime seats in the middle rows of the theatre.
“We’ve had great success with our UltraAVX cinemas ($3-$5 surcharge) as well as our VIP cinemas ($7-$12 surcharge) which both offer reserved seating; and so people really like that opportunity,” said spokeswoman Pat Marshall.
“It’s really about providing our guests with choices when they go to the movies . . . I sort of position it akin to an aircraft where you have your regular coach seating, then you might want a bit more amenities, so you go into business class, and then you have a first-class.”
The airline analogy may not sit well with consumers already feeling nickelled-and-dimed by the airline industry, which now routinely charges for once free snacks, blankets and headsets.
“It all hinges on whether they see value in sitting in that particular area,” said Brock University marketing professor and pricing expert Eric Dolansky, when asked whether consumers will embrace the Cineplex concept.
“I’m an avid moviegoer myself. I prefer to sit there. Would I pay extra to sit there? It’s difficult to say.
“I don’t perceive myself as seeing $2-3 worth of value unless there’s something special about those seats. If I can sit in the fourth row up for $2 less I would rather do that.”
And just like on a plane when the door slams shut, imagine the seat dance that will occur if the premium seats are empty when the film begins.
“Guests could certainly occupy those seats, but if at some point later on during the presentation the guests who have those reserved seats arrive they will be asked to move,” said Marshall. “We wouldn’t encourage that because it’s not only disruptive to them in the audience, but it’s also disruptive to all those folks around them.”
Fortunately, not everyone wants to sit in the traditional best in house seats.
“Some people absolutely believe that to be the sweet spot, but I’ve spoken with many filmgoers over the years and often they say the older you get the further back in the auditorium you tend to go,” said Marshall. “If you’re young you tend to be right up front; as you age, you move towards the middle; and as you get older, you want to go to the very back.”
The company is also planning to expand its arcade offerings.
“It represents about $66 million a year to us in annual revenue; it’s a lot of money and we see that there are opportunities to grow that business,” said Marshall.