The head of AMC Cinemas in the US has been addressing the backlash over premiums being charged for ‘sightline’ seating.
After it was reported back in early February that the AMC chain in the US was planning to introduce a ‘sightline pricing’ model into its US cinemas, there was no small degree of pushback. None other than Frodo Baggins himself, Elijah Wood led the charge, calling it an invasion of a ‘sacred democratic space for all’ and claiming that it would ‘penalise people for lower income and reward for higher income.’
The sightline model would see a higher price charged for seats with a better view of the screen.
Reaction online from pretty much all corners has been equally negative, to the point where the company’s CEO, Adam Aron, has been forced to speak out about the unpopular strategy. His rationale, as you can probably imagine is not going to make your Thursday a happier day:
‘“We are in inflationary times,” said Aron, “and inflationary times cause costs to rise”.
“Under the pre-Sightline structure of the industry, if we wanted to raise the price in a theatre, the only choice we had was to raise the price on all the seats”. Now thought, “if we felt the need to raise prices, we might only do it in the most popular seats in an auditorium and actually hold the line and not raise prices on other seats. So, it is a way of increasing the price now, but preventing a price increase later on.”
So there you go. If you want to sit in a more ‘popular seat’ (by which we suspect he means around 80% of the auditorium), then prepare to pay more because the company is actually doing you a favour by not simply raising all seat prices. The most nebulous part of this claim is that this strategy could prevent a ‘price increase later on.’ Why didn’t he just say that before? If patrons knew that they might be facing increased prices at some unspecified point down the line, I’m sure they’ll welcome paying more now and embrace a system which looks to separate people based on their income.
Or perhaps not, unsurprisingly. The backlash continues and this is a controversy that looks set to rumble on as AMC face a shareholder vote in March that will address the strategy, not to mention that Deadline is reporting that lawsuits to block the movie have been issued. We’ll let you know more as we hear it. You can find our take on other ‘clever’ ways AMC could gouge cash from its loyal customers, right here.
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