The price of movie tickets is soaring and prospects for the future are pessimistic to say the least. Attending a conference at USC in June, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted that the admission tickets could reach levels as high as $100 in years to come. If a bit exaggerated, the trend is nonetheless undeniable. Spielberg also foresees price variances at movie theaters. In other words, the admission prices will differ according to the films’ mainstream appeal value. An action-packed all-star summer blockbuster will cost more to watch than a small independent film with no big names. The bottom line is that it’s more and more difficult to make personal movies that do not necessarily appeal to the mass. The three-time Oscar winner added that he was very close to making his award-winning epic Lincoln for HBO, after facing major difficulties to get it financed by studios.
Early in the summer, Paramount already started selling ‘mega tickets’ for World War Z at Regal theaters in 5 different cities (Houston, San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Irvine, Calif.). At the astronomical price of $50, this package deal not only included the possibility to see the film two days prior to its general release, but also one pair of World War Z custom RealD 3D glasses, a small popcorn, a limited-edition movie poster and, finally, an HD digital copy of the film once it is available for home video release. According to studio marketing experts, the interest of people in owning DVDs wanes overtime after the film’s original theatrical release. By intervening upstream and pre-selling digital copies, studios attempt to revert the trend. If the logic behind this strategy makes sense, it seems a bit absurd to pay 3 or 4 months ahead of time to own a movie which hasn't been seen yet.
As a result of the increase of movie ticket prices, it doesn't take an expert to predict a meltdown of the film industry caused by a considerable decrease in theater attendance. People would rather stay home to watch popular shows and discover upcoming releases through Netflix or online streaming instead. What can be done to prevent a system implosion? Who is to blame? The astronomical production and marketing costs are mostly responsible and the unbelievable star salaries. A solution could be to make movies with computer-generated actors, but the intricate digital technology behind it might actually end up costing more than hiring real actors. Or perhaps should production companies rely on inexpensive actors and skip A-listers, diverting the audience’s attention from it by emphasizing higher entertainment values and eye-catching tricks (3-D technology being one of them).
Whatever direction the film industry might take, things look pretty grim for Hollywood’s future.