AMC Abandons Plan to Charge More Money For Better Seats at its Movie Theaters

AMC Abandons Plan to Charge More Money For Better Seats at its Movie Theaters

AMC Entertainment will not be moving forward with its program that charges customers variable prices depending on which seats they prefer in its movie theaters, CNBC is reporting. The chain announced yesterday that the program would end at participating locations in the coming weeks.

The decision comes after the company initially announced its Sightline pricing strategy in February. The company tested the program out in select locations in three U.S. markets. AMC, which is the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., had originally planned to roll the initiative out more broadly by the end of this year.

The program charged moviegoers more for the best theater seats, which AMC referred to as its Preferred Sightline seats. Those seats included select locations in the middle of the auditorium that are preferred by some moviegoers.

The program also included Value Sightline seats in order to offer a discount to patrons who didn’t wish to pay the extra fee for the Preferred Sightline seats. For the Value Sightline, the company reduced the price of seats that many patrons deem less desirable, such as those located in the front row of auditoriums.

Many criticized the pricing plan when it was first announced, including Lord of the Rings franchise star Elijah Wood. He shared his disappointment with the program on Twitter at the time.

“The movie theater is and always has been a sacred democratic space for all and this new initiative by @AMCTheatres would essentially penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income,” the SAG Award-winning actor said in his tweet.

The decision to discontinue the Sightline pricing strategy comes after the company tracked its AMC Stubs members’ seating preferences over the past five months. The company wanted to see if the patrons adjusted their seating choices in light of the new program.

The results showed that moviegoers still had little or no interest sitting in seats in the front row, even though their prices were reduced. The company also found that most moviegoers continued to choose the seats they preferred, even at higher prices.

AMC Entertainment added in a statement that it decided to end the Sightline pricing strategy in order ensure its ticket prices remain competitive. Other theater chains, including Regal, are not charging higher prices for better seats.

The change comes as the movie theater industry suffers through a sluggish summer blockbuster season. Theaters are hoping that this weekend’s new wide releases, including the acclaimed and anticipated films Barbie and Oppenheimer, will bring in more patrons into theaters.

Shares of AMC Entertainment fell less than 1% yesterday as the news was first announced. The stock is up more than 5% this year, lagging the broader market.

The cinema chain also said its focus will now be to add more comfortable, spacious recliners in the front row in select locations in the U.S. later this year. Patrons will be able to “lay all the way back and relax” in the new seats, whose angle will make it easier for guests to watch movies, according to AMC. The company didn’t mention if these seats would have a different cost than those in other rows.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.


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