Cinema ticket prices have always been above average when compared to other entertainment mediums, and their cost is yet another barrier to more people visiting the cinema for latest films. This is a greater concern as time goes on and the expansion of other, cheaper methods of accessing new films via digital distribution.
For those not aware, the reasons for prices being as they are is down to the percentage split of ticket sales between the cinema chain, the film distributors, and the film makers, all of whom are due a section of the financial pie. This may have changed since the last time I read up on the subject, but at that time the rough breakdown of ticket sales was 25% to the cinema, 25% to the distributor and the remaining 50% went to the filmmaker. So for every £9 cinema ticket sold, the chain will make about £2.67 – not a huge amount. It’s this that explains firstly why each ticket costs about the same as if you waited and bought the DVD on release, and also for the massive mark-up in the cost of cinema foods. The cinema needs to make money in order to keep bringing films in, it’s as simple as that. They’re also hoping you’ll spend a bit of money at the snacks counter while you’re there, but thankfully restrictions on taking your own food into the screen have been relaxed in recent years.
Whilst I appreciate the necessities of the capitalist system and the fact the cinema needs to make money in order to stay open (boosted by their sale of a variety of cinema snacks), the reality is that if you wanted to visit the cinema at least once a week it would cost you over at least £40 a month unless you took advantage of the regular discount deals that the cinema chains offer. If you’re a dedicated cinephile then it would cost even more – in this financial climate it’s not sustainable. So what are the alternatives? Well, as I’ve discussed here before, in the UK there are a number of digital subscription models available, with films released on those platforms not long after the cinema run has ended. The problem there is that, due to licensing issues, there isn’t a one size fits all digital content provider where you can get everything in one place. If you’re really keen on having access to everything then you’ll need to subscribe to multiple services – something that has the potential to cost much more than what you would spend at the cinema.
Is there any way around this? Without turning to piracy, no. For me I’ve found it best to work out what services best suit my film needs and only pay for the services I will get extensive use out of. For now, that includes a discounted Sky TV subscription which includes all the movie channels (On Demand Sky Movies has been particularly useful) and a Netflix subscription for direct to DVD films and the like. I’m also a long time subscriber to the Cineworld Unlimited card and buy films on DVD and Blu-Ray as and when I have the money for it. More than enough, oftentimes too much to stay on top of. If I’d subscribed to Amazon Instant Video and/or Blinkbox or even any of the other subscription services then I’d do literally nothing else but watch films constantly. Not a bad ideal to wish for, but Real Life does require consideration every now and again. On that basis I have no problem with cinema tickets costing what they do – but only provided I can watch a film without it being ruined by other cinema goers. When that happens – very rarely, admittedly – it’s preferable to wait for it to appear on digital distribution and watch it at home.