Starting Feb. 10, AMC Theatres changed their ticket prices in select cities and will continue to do so across the country by the end of the year. The new change is called “Sightline,” and it involves pricing tickets based on the seat location in the theater. This allows viewers to pay varying prices for different viewing angles, similar to concert or theater seating.
‘Standard Sightline’ is the title of the ticket that encompasses the seats in the back. These tickets will be sold at the traditional ticket cost and are projected to be the most common choice. ‘Value Sightline’ encompasses the seats in the front of the theater and select seats within the auditorium.
The ‘Value Sightline’ seats are only available to AMC Stubs members, including the free tier membership. ‘Preferred Sightline’ is in the middle of the theater and is labeled as premium seats. AMC Stubs A-list can reserve seats in this section at no additional cost.
Sightline will be available after 4 p.m. with a detailed seating chart. Eliot Hamlisch, executive VP and CMO at AMC Theatres, provided a statement in a company release on the AMC Theatres website.
“Sightline at AMC more closely aligns AMC’s seat pricing approach to that of many other entertainment venues, offering experience-based pricing and another way for moviegoers to find value at the movies,” Hamlisch said in the statement.
Hamlisch wants to ensure that Sightline will give AMC viewers the best experience possible.
“While every seat at AMC delivers an amazing moviegoing experience, we know there are some moviegoers who prioritize their specific seat and others who prioritize value moviegoing,” Hamlisch said. “Sightline at AMC accommodates both sentiments to help ensure that our guests have more control over their experience, so that every trip to an AMC theater is a great one.”
Michael Eaton, professor of film, said he does not have much faith in this new strategy.
“I honestly think this strategy will backfire,” Eaton said. “I also believe that it is likely being driven by investors and board members of the company who nearly declared bankruptcy a few years ago during the pandemic.”
Tania Brooks, freshman film production major, does not agree with the new system as she thinks it will
negatively impact moviegoers’ experience.
“This could ultimately affect how many people want to go to the theater,” Brooks said. “As a person who really loves going to the theater, I know that one ticket is already more expensive than they used to be. I do not see why there should be an adjustment in cost. Everyone has a different opinion for which seating area is the best, so to make someone pay more or less based on locations seems unreasonable.”
The new seating arrangement will change how we see movies and how much we are willing to pay for the best seat. With massive box office-earning franchises like Marvel and Avatar, what will it look like in the future for those ticket sales?
“I think that they are really banking on the fact that Avatar and the Marvel franchise movies are going to bring in full houses,” said Dr. Melissa Croteau, professor of film studies and literature. “Do I think it will affect the ticket sales of big blockbusters? Probably not.”
While big franchise movies most likely will not be hit by this new Sightline system, the smaller, independent movies may not fare well.
“I think the movies that are not very popular would have more of a problem with people wanting to see it in the theater because of the location seat prices,” Brooks said.
With the new seating arrangements, is it a good idea to have tier-level seating?
“While it seems like it might work to use the concert ticket model of different pricing for movie ticket sales, it’s a major adjustment for the consumer in an already struggling industry,” Eaton said.
According to Investor Place, it is possible that AMC might go bankrupt. Through the pandemic, it has been difficult for movie theaters to bounce back. This new system could help them stay further and further away from shutting the doors.
“Already there was a step toward this hierarchy of pricing when most of the major theater chains including AMC started to have patrons choose their seat when they purchased their tickets,” Croteau said. “I think this step ladder to where AMC is at with establishing this new pricing structure was the ‘choose your own seat’ model, which has become more popular.”
The Sightline system is just an extension of the “choose your own seat” model but with a tier system of different prices.
“I think it’s not good for customers,” Brooks said. “It will be good for AMC Theatres, but I do not like the change they are trying to make.”
This change to how movies are viewed at AMC could change the future of how other theaters function across the nation.
“If AMC does this and it works, then everyone will follow suit because they are the biggest chain in the country,” Croteau said. “If it makes them able to keep the doors open, then maybe the best thing for everybody is they charge a little more for special seats, so maybe all of us get a chance to see a movie in that environment.”