CHICAGO MOVIE LOVERS GIVE AMC’S SEAT SURCHARGE 2 THUMBS DOWN
Quinton Ford loves going to the movies, and now that he’s retired, he’s catching up to three a week as a member of AMC Theatres’ Stubs subscription program.
But news that the nation’s largest theater chain is planning on charging more money for prime seating is making him and other Chicago movie buffs think twice about taking a trip to the theater.
“I’m a little disappointed; I understand it’s tight, but I think it’s a little bit much to be asking from customers,” Ford said as he walked out of a showing of “80 for Brady” at AMC’s Block 37 location in the Loop. “It’s an impact, definitely.”
This week, AMC unveiled a new pricing scheme in which seat location determines how much a movie ticket costs. Seats in the middle of the auditorium will cost a dollar or two more, while seats in the front row will be slightly cheaper.
AMC said the pricing plan, dubbed “Sightline,” has already been rolled out in some locations and, by the end of the year, will be in place at all U.S. AMC theaters for screenings after 4 p.m.
“I don’t like it,” Gary Monroe said as he walked into the Loop AMC location. “It sounds like a cash grab, honestly.”
He thinks the strategy might pay off financially for AMC as there are many willing to pay a little extra for a better experience.
Monroe said he prefers to sit in the “optimal” middle seat when he goes to the movies, but he doesn’t like the idea of having to pay extra for the privilege every time.
“I could see how someone could look at it and say it’s just a dollar, but if you go to the movies and you’re always paying an extra dollar than anyone else in the theater, that seems a little unfair,” Monroe said. “It’s definitely gonna make me think twice about it.”
Even some movie stars are unhappy with the move. Elijah Wood said in a tweet that the new initiative “would essentially penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income.”
Those who want to pay less for the “value sightline” seats have to be a Stubs member. Ford said he may not be affected, but he doesn’t think it’s fair for other people who love going to the movies and have no other option but to go to an AMC theater.
“I think that they’re kind of one of the only theater companies in town, so it’s kind of a monopoly,” Ford said. “I mean how much more do you need.”