No Money Honey
A Synopsis of the Box Office Slump
by Melissa Minners
Out of all the movie blockbusters hitting the theaters, which one do you go to? Thatís right, I said choose! Because, if youíre a poor schlub like me, thatís what you are forced to do. The cost of movie tickets keeps rising while the quality of movies keep falling. Itís a rare occurrence that I find myself completely satisfied after spending two to three hours in a theater, which is why I think twice before going to the movies lately. I just plain cannot afford to bother with seeing a mediocre movie Ė not with the rising costs.
Consider the average movie-goerís plight. Nine dollars buys you one movie ticket to one showing of one flick. Gone are the days when you could watch a movie three times for the same fee. Nowadays that movie could range from 80 minutes to three hours. How fair is that? Do I really want to spend money on a movie that is over before I can get through a box of Sno-Caps? At least if I spend nine dollars on a three hour movie, I feel like Iím getting what I paid for. After all, three dollars per hour isnít bad even though I may be bored to tears.
Once upon a time, there were matinee showings where you could save a buck or two on ticket prices. You could go to any showing before 5pm and get a fair price. Now, itís the first showing or youíre screwed.
Now, I make a decent salary. Letís talk about the poor folks who work for minimum wage. Does it seem fair that movie ticket prices are upwards of two dollars more than minimum wage gives employees for one hour of work? How can you ask someone to give up an hour and fifteen minutes of hard labor to see an 80 minute movie?
The industry says that the rise in movie ticket prices is due to the latest downloading / pirating craze. I say that the latest craze is in response to the rise in ticket prices. Consider the fact that it would cost the average family approximately fifty dollars to see a movie and it makes it relatively easy to understand why people would rather rent or download. Iím not saying that I agree with downloading movies, but I can most certainly say that there are many movies I refuse to see in a theater when I can rent them for 1/3 of the price and watch them numerous times in the comfort of my home with food that costs me ľ of what Iíd pay at a concession stand.
If downloading were the real reason behind the rise in ticket prices, explain the dramatic doubling of ticket prices between the 1980ís and 1990ís, when downloading movies was impossible. No, I say itís greed. Much like in the sporting industry, where one player is paid a million dollars to play a year and another player says, ďHey, I play better than him!Ē Then, he demands a higher salary, and so on and so on, resulting in higher ticket prices.
The movie industry continues to pay actors exorbitant amounts of money for even the tiniest of roles. Some actors make hundreds of thousands of dollars for parts that amount to Ĺ hour of a movie. Never mind the extra pampering going on at the set level! If the industry cut back on actorsí salaries, Iíd bet they could cut back on production costs, eh?
Hereís another thought for you: Is the industry cutting off its nose to spite its face? The industry cites downloading and piracy as the reasons the prices have to be raised. The main reason people cite for downloading is the cost of tickets. By raising them higher, is that going to get you more sales? Business sense says no! People look for fair prices. When they canít get fair prices, they wait for sales. But the industry doesnít show two-for-ones anymore. You canít watch one movie all day for one fare. You donít even get a cartoon before the flick anymore!
I say, the movie industry should conduct an experiment. Summer is prime movie time. Have a ticket slash sale for one month. If tickets only cost five dollars apiece, people could afford to go numerous times. Instead of being picky and choosey, theyíd see movies that they wouldnít ordinarily go to. People on minimum wage would spend less than one hourís salary for a little entertainment! What a novel idea!
And donít get me started on concession stands where one bottle of Aquafina water that costs 75 cents on the street is three dollars. Hell, if Iím that thirsty, Iíll drink water out of the dirty bathroom tap! Five dollars for a bag of popcorn that I could pop at home for 50 cents, absolutely ridiculous! Especially when you consider that most theaters donít even pop their own popcorn anymore. They receive huge bags of pre-popped corn and all they have to do is reheat them. These bags stay in storage for who knows how long Ė yuck! Some concession stands sell tacos, hot dogs and other such fast foods. The majority of the people I know who have eaten such meals at theaters were sorry for it Ė pocket-wise and stomach-wise.
And whatís with the numerous commercials I have to sit through long before previews even begin? Isnít this the stuff most people fast forward through when they rent flicks? If I wanted to watch 15 minutes or more of commercials, Iíd view them for free on television, in the comfort of my own home.
In closing, the movie industry is suffering. They are claiming that the box office is in a slump. Well, pay attention folks! The movie-goers are telling you why youíre in a slump! You and your theater owners are keeping us away with exorbitant prices and substandard products. Donít blame us for looking for other alternatives Ė you can blame yourselves for forcing us to.