AMC’s Dynamic Pricing Plan May Not Create New Moviegoers, but It Should Cash In on Existing Ones

More than half of frequent moviegoers said they’d be interested in paying more money to see blockbuster Hollywood movies in theaters
March 16, 2022 at 12:01 am UTC

American consumers are used to fluctuating ticket prices for flights and concerts, but are they ready to pay more to see “The Batman” and other major releases in movie theaters?

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the biggest theater operator in the United States, is banking on just that after introducing a dynamic pricing model for select films, starting with the Robert Pattinson-led superhero flick. The idea, which is already popular in Europe, is simple: Consumers pay more for in-demand movies and, in turn, less for ones with a smaller expected market. AMC CEO Adam Aron also said the chain could charge more for “the best seats in the house,” just as concert and sports venues do.

The company hopes that will boost revenue as it continues to recover from the pandemic. Early box-office returns for “The Batman” are encouraging, but it’s still unproven as a long-term strategy. New data from Morning Consult indicates that dynamic pricing is unlikely to entice new customers — but it very well could help AMC better capitalize on its existing base.

More Than Half of Frequent Moviegoers Would Pay More for Blockbusters, Premium Seats

Respondents were asked if they were interested in paying more for a movie ticket if it included the following:
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Survey conducted March 9-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,208 U.S. adults, including 641 frequent moviegoers, with unweighted margins of error of +/- 2 percentage points and 4 points, respectively. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

What the numbers say

  • One-third of U.S. consumers said they are interested in paying more to see Hollywood blockbusters. That share climbs to 56 percent among frequent moviegoers, or those who go to the movies at least once a month. 
  • Forty percent of adults said they’d pay more for a premium seat at movie theaters. Sixty-two percent of frequent moviegoers said the same. 
  • Thirty-seven percent of frequent moviegoers said they’d pay between $11-20 for a ticket to a newly released movie. As of 2019, the average price for a U.S. movie ticket was $9.16, according to data from the National Association of Theatre Owners. Roughly one-third of adults overall (32 percent) said less than $10 is their ideal price range for a movie ticket for a new release. 

Audiences Are Ready to Pay More for 'The Batman,' 'Black Panther' Sequel

Share of respondents who said they were “very” or “somewhat” interested in paying more than the standard price to see the following movies in theaters:
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Survey conducted March 9-11, 2022, among a representative sample of roughly 300 frequent moviegoers who are interested in paying more than standard price to see certain films in theaters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 6 percentage points.

More on the numbers

  • Released March 4, “The Batman” was the first film to be included in AMC’s pricing experiment, and it was also the film audiences were most interested in paying a premium to see. Sixty-three percent of frequent moviegoers said they’d pay extra to see the film. Sixty-two percent said the same of the upcoming Marvel film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” 
  • Respondents had less enthusiasm for next month’s blockbusters, including “Morbius” (45 percent), and the Harry Potter spinoff, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (43 percent).

The impact

Consumers are well accustomed to paying more for certain entertainment options as demand fluctuates, but it’s a relatively new concept in the American moviegoing industry. Will audiences balk at paying more to see the latest blockbuster in the best seat in the house?

Morning Consult data shows that the general public is lukewarm to the idea, but the core moviegoing base is quite accepting of it. The strong box-office showing of “The Batman” — $134 million in its opening weekend — suggests the concept could have legs. But questions remain about how much audiences are willing to pay, and whether or not movie theaters want to test that just as they are starting to welcome patrons back. Expect them to at least see what increases they can get away with without alienating their most loyal customers. 

Survey conducted March 9-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,208 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Sarah Shevenock previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering the business of entertainment.

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