As it comes time to get back into gear for another full-fledged year of school, the movies are one bit of tame entertainment that can break any monotonous routine, except for one fact: they are damn expensive.
I like my movies with a side of cash, but generally all I get is a side of empty wallet and lint-filled pockets.
While this might just reflect my status as a broke college student, I like to firmly believe that it’s really all about the movies being inordinately overpriced.
Sadly, gone are the days of the 25¢ Saturday double feature, way gone I might add. Although, if you adjust that price for inflation, taking 1950 as a base year and using the latest CPI numbers as of July this year, you still only get $2.40. This simply means that people in 1950 were paying what today would amount to $2.40 for their cinema experience.
Obviously, somewhere along the lines something went horribly wrong in the movie industry because we are all getting the business end of the stick.
Granted, there are different expenses involved in the movie industry these days—such as copyright fees, franchise fees, higher real estate costs, utilities maintenance, payroll, and marketing—but I refuse to believe those costs justify movie ticket prices.
Going out to the movies today can be quite expensive with prices varying depending on where you decide to go and whether it’s RealD 3D, XD, DP, IMAX, or whatever other money-stealing mechanism theatre executives come up with.
If you want to do it big and go to an IMAX showing you can pay as much as $18.50 per ticket. If you want to see a movie in XD (Extreme Digital Experience) it may cost $14.25 or if you’re lucky they will have a student price and it’s only $12.50.
In downtown Hayward the general ticket price is $10.50 or $8.50 for students. While comparatively that price isn’t too bad, it is still at least $6.00 more than what equivalent prices were in the 1950s.
Even worse, once you’ve gone through that door of no return and paid for your ticket, the prices inside theatres are ridiculous. Concession stands consistently overcharge for their goods and $14.00 will only get you a medium popcorn, medium soda, and medium candy.
Now imagine it’s date night and you have to pay for two tickets plus concession stand goods; that can ring you up anywhere between $30-$50 easily or, in other terms, approximately five hours working at California’s minimum wage of $8.00.
There is a slew of cheaper options such as theatres that show older movies or ones that show independent films, but no one really likes to see movies late and sometimes “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” just won’t take the place of a real good Hollywood crapfest.
So, what can we do?
Well, we could all just stop going to the movies and force the industry to reexamine their priorities, potentially causing the industry to lose revenue and subsequently lower ticket prices to attract customers.
However, that one will never happen and it’s not like I want to promote an activity that might negatively affect California’s economy, even if the savings people generate in lower ticket prices could be used to boost other economic activities.
Just keeping this between us, I have heard of people sneaking their own candy, sodas, and snacks into movie theatres. Not like that is something I would ever do. Just saying people have done it before and it saves them money. Most theatres don’t check peoples’ bags anyways.
So, with the dog days of summer officially over and real life coming back to haunt us, you can always find a way to mildly entertain yourself on the cheap at the movies. How you do it is up to you.