AMC is abandoning plans to charge more for movie seats, depending on their location. But higher mid-seat prices at theaters where AMC has been testing the concept will remain in place this weekend, when “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are expected to draw crowds.
AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, said on Thursday it would “spin away” from a controversial initiative called Sightline in which seats at evening shows had three price levels, ending the long-held movie theater practice of charging the same amount for every seat in the theater. a theater. (Discounts of $1 to $2 were offered for the neck-craning front row, raises of $1 to $2 were charged for center-middle, and the status quo remained for the rest.)
The concept was rolled out in theaters in New York, Illinois and Kansas in March to loud protest from some moviegoers. AMC always labeled it as a test.
The experiment will end sometime in August, according to an AMC spokesperson. But the company plans to launch a new trial of front-row seats, which often go unsold. Later this year, AMC said it would remove traditional front-row seats and replace them with “large, comfortable lounge-style seating areas where guests can recline all the way back.”
AMC and other theater chains, after steadily increasing the prices of their concession stands, have started to focus more on seats for revenue growth. Increasingly, for example, multiplexes have forced customers to purchase premium-priced tickets for screenings with oversized screens or upgraded sound systems.
Adding to the pressure is that attendance numbers have still not recovered from the early pandemic, when many theaters were closed for months. So far this year, ticket sales are about 20 percent behind the same period in 2019.
AMC said Sightline didn’t turn out the way it hoped. Notably, the company saw “little, if any, increase in front row attendance, even with a price reduction for those seats.” About three out of four customers who previously sat in the middle seats paid the surcharge to continue doing so, AMC said. Some of those people moved to other seats. A small percentage stopped buying tickets from the AMC.
In particular, competitors did not follow AMC in repricing seats, making the company less competitive in test markets.
AMC’s plans to discontinue the initiative were previously reported by Bloomberg News.