In the heart of London, the flagship Odeon theater in Leicester Square has been closed for eleven months as it underwent a massive, multi-million dollar renovation. It’s finally set to re-open later this month, but some moviegoers are balking at the ticket prices: the theater has announced it will potentially charge over £40 (approximately $52) for its most premium seats.
The Leicester Square theater is selling tickets for the anticipated Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns, but people online haven’t taken kindly to the prices:
That highest tier, which Odeon describes as their “best ever seats,” places customers in the “Royal Box,” where they’ll sit in a fully reclining chair that provides extra width and extra legroom, and each seat in that section comes with an individual table. Having partnered with Dolby for the renovation, the theater now also has laser projection and a Dolby Atmos sound system installed. But still, the highest price in that tier translates to $52 – and that’s for a single ticket.
Responding to public outcry about that pricing, Odeon released a statement (via BBC):
“With tickets starting at just £10 for every show… it offers fantastic value compared to tickets for other popular destinations like the theatre, concerts or live sports. Price choices vary and flex depending on a number of factors including seat type and location in the auditorium, what we’re showing, time of day, and the number of people booking at one time. The first week of the biggest film of the year during the festive season is obviously peak, and guests can expect prices will flex throughout the year.”
The comparison between going to the movies and attending a concert/sporting event is a flawed one – just because you leave your house and pay to see a thing doesn’t automatically put all of those events on the same playing field.
I love the theatrical experience and will argue for theaters to remain up and running until my dying breath, but paying $104 plus the cost of parking for two people to see a movie is patently ridiculous. And that’s not even factoring in concessions or other food. I haven’t been to an Odeon theater yet myself, but that chain is partially owned by AMC, so it strikes me as plausible that Odeon theater managers may respond in similar ways to disruptive viewers who talk or text throughout a screening – by doing absolutely nothing about it.
Again, this high price is during a peak time and doesn’t represent the cost of a standard ticket. But is there any scenario (barring the ransom of your loved ones) that could convince you to pay over $50 to see a mainstream movie in a theater?
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