Why a family trip to the cinema can cost a blockbuster £120

Mission Unaffordable! With tickets as much as £23 and hotdogs for £10 – why a family trip to the cinema can cost a blockbuster £120

  • The cost doesn’t appear to have put Barbie or Oppenheimer fans off, though

With the Barbie movie and silver-screen epic Oppenheimer following hot on the heels of the latest Mission: Impossible and Indiana Jones films, it’s lining up to be a blockbuster summer.

But brace yourselves – a family visit to the flicks comes with a blockbuster price, too, hitting £120 at some venues.

The eye-watering cost doesn’t appear to have put film fans off, though. Cinemas had a bumper day yesterday as the school holidays began and rain forced many Britons to look for a way to entertain their children indoors.

As a result, many showings were sold out. Such was the demand that there was even a virtual waiting list simply to get on the Vue cinemas website.

However, those who go to cinemas less often may not realise how much it will set them back. For the first time, the typical price of a family visit has exceeded £100.

Mission Unaffordable! Brace yourselves – a family visit to the flicks comes with a blockbuster price, too, hitting £120 at some venues

The eye-watering cost doesn’t appear to have put Barbie fans off, though

Such was the demand for Barbie and Oppenheimer that there was even a virtual waiting list simply to get on the Vue cinemas website

Fancier seats such as sofas push the price up – with an adult ticket costing as much as £23 – not to mention the bill for food and drinks, including £10 hotdogs.

To research how much a family of two adults and two children might pay, we looked at the typical cost of a cinema outing in different regions at the main cinema chains – Odeon, Vue and Cineworld.

Rishi votes for Barbie

He seems an unlikely fan, but outnumbered by his wife and daughters perhaps Prime Minister Rishi Sunak didn’t have much choice when he took them to see Barbie at the cinema yesterday.

He tweeted this photo of himself holding film tickets and posing with his wife Akshata, 43, and daughters Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, nine.

In the post, Mr Sunak wrote: ‘The family vote was only ever going one way….Barbie first it is #Barbenheimer.’ The #Barbenheimer hashtag on social media refers to the release of the movies Barbie and Oppenheimer on Friday.

Although it isn’t known where Mr Sunak saw the film, social media users joked that the multi-millionaire MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire could have watched it in his own private cinema.

If special tickets were available for a family of four or an adult and child we used those. The price for food and drink included two 500ml bottles of Coke, two 500ml bottles of water, two nachos, two hotdogs and two large boxes of popcorn.

The Leicester Square Odeon in Central London charged the most – with tickets for a family of two parents and two children costing as much as £70. 

The nearby Cineworld also came in at £70, or £76 for the Imax screen. 

At the neighbouring Vue cinema a recliner cost £59.96. In the Midlands, the Odeon at Birmingham’s Broadway Plaza it costs £66 for ‘recliner-plus’ seats, which are marketed as offering the best view of the screen. 

On top of that, the food amounted to £43.34. Drinks for everyone would cost another £9.76 – making a total of £119.10, assuming parking was free. 

Last night, Jennifer Howze, editorial director of the parenting website Netmums, said: ‘Prices like these have taken the family cinema trip from something that might be once or twice a month to something far less often. It is even harder for families since they have even less spare money due to the higher cost of living in the past year.

‘We are seeing families that want to go to the cinema having to cut back on other things to afford it – or just not do it. What used to be a nice, modestly priced day out is out of reach for many families.

‘Bringing your own snacks can make a real difference, and looking out for certain times of the day or certain days when it is cheaper, is a way to bring the cost down.

‘Having said that, it can be hard to say no to kids when they want the things that are really a key part of the experience – the hotdog, the popcorn, the pick and mix. After all, what is going to the cinema without the popcorn?’

In Scotland, we found that a family of four could expect to pay as much as £105.10 at Glasgow’s Springfield Quay Odeon. Ticket prices were lower than the chain’s Birmingham venue, but food and drinks cost the same.

Odeon said: ‘We offer a range of prices, offers and promotions to ensure value for money and choice for all our guests.’

Vue said it offered the chance to see ‘every film, every day, every screening at £4.99 when customers buy a Super Saver ticket online for many of its venues across the UK’.

Cineworld did not respond to a request for comment.

Extortionate… especially when most of us can just stream the films at home 

By Matthew Bond, Mail on Sunday Film Critic 

The coming week is a huge one for the future of the cinema industry – a major test of whether audiences who fell out of the habit of going to the movies during lockdown will return.

Few could blame them if they decided not to.

With the cost of a typical family outing having gone beyond £100 – during a cost-of-living crisis – it’s getting out of reach for most people. Add in the fact that most new movies swiftly become available via an online streaming service (where there is a massive choice of other films anyway), and many families will question whether those exorbitant ticket prices can be justified.

That’s why so much now hangs on the performance of ‘Barbenheimer’ – as the joint release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has been termed. Both were released in cinemas on Friday, joining Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part One.

The consensus among industry experts is that if these much-hyped blockbusters can’t lure audiences, the sector is in big trouble.

It’s by no means a guarantee that they will attract people to cinemas. The revival of Indiana Jones, starring the hugely popular Harrison Ford in The Dial Of Destiny, failed to meet expectations.

However, if any film-makers can bring audiences back, it’s Nolan and Cruise.

Both are passionate advocates of the idea that big films should be seen on big screens, not on televisions at home. Cruise is famous for performing his own spectacular stunts, while Nolan is renowned for his authentic staging of big action sequences live rather than relying on computer-generated visual effects.

I certainly hope this pair of titans succeed. But I have concerns.

Oppenheimer, for instance – the story of ‘the father of the atomic bomb’, J Robert Oppenheimer – is very, very good, but it’s also serious, wordy and three hours long.

Barbie, by contrast, is frothy, pink and a lot of deceptively clever fun, but it may struggle to attract couples or a male audience.

Even Tom Cruise will not be able to stop his latest epic from running out of steam eventually.

The UK cinema industry desperately needs a hero. Let’s just hope it finds one – and fast.

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