$55 for two people to see a hit movie?


Terri Akman - The Philadelphia Inquirer



A Wonder Woman fan as a kid, I couldn’t wait to see the movie. My husband reluctantly agreed to join me, so we headed to the theater for a late-afternoon show. When I asked for two tickets, the clerk rung up $34.56. I thought she was mistaken. Alas, it was after 3 o’clock (we saw the 4:10 show) and it happened to be in 3-D, which is an upcharge.

Incredulous, I gasped but handed over my credit card.

Of course, we couldn’t cheer on Wonder Woman without some snacks to munch on. We chose a small bag of popcorn to share, a bottle of water, and a medium seltzer water. Ka-ching … an additional 20 bucks.

When did the cost for two people to see a movie hit $55? How do the parents who also need to pay a baby sitter, or who choose to get dinner with their movie, afford the night out? Or the parents who take their kids along and are now spending upwards of $100, depending on the size of their brood?

And ticket sales aren’t the only source of revenue — commercials in theaters are also now a given. “Wonder Woman” has earned $710 million at the box office so far, so why do theaters need to run ads before the main event? I get the cute bit with the dancing popcorn and soda, designed to tickle your taste buds into buying snacks. But a full-on commercial for a car is as insulting as it is annoying when I realize I’m paying to watch the ad.

After throwing in a few commercials, the coming attractions started. I’m not against a few coming attractions, but when they come rapid fire — I think there were seven — it became excruciating. Where was Wonder Woman?

I feel very old and crotchety as I write this.

For me, though, it’s about the customer experience. You get cozy in your seat, excited for the movie, but then realize you have to pay to play. First it’s the ads, then the coming attractions — by now you’re a half-hour in and the movie hasn’t even started. And I hate when I’ve finished my popcorn before the opening credits. When the movie finally did play, it was on the longer side at 2 hours and 21 minutes. That’s a long time to sit in one place.

On the positive side, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Gal Gadot was charming, Chris Pine enjoyable, and it was fun to see Robin Wright kicking butt. My childhood hero didn’t disappoint. I loved cheering on a female superhero and the story kept my attention despite the movie’s length.

I’m not sure the 3-D at $4 or $5 more per ticket was necessary. Maybe the thrill of 3-D has worn off, or I’m just no longer impacted by arrows that seem to shoot right at me. I would have thought that with so much action, 3-D would have added a lot to the experience, but I think the plot was strong enough that the special effects weren’t necessary.

I suppose there are options. I could go to a pre-3 p.m. matinee or surreptitiously smuggle in my own snacks. Or I could wait a few months and pay $5.99 for the whole family to watch the movie on-demand on my big-screen TV from the comfort of my couch.

But I know the popcorn wouldn’t taste quite as good, and the fun of going to the movies is getting out of the house.

And what would I talk about at the water cooler when everyone else is raving about or dissing the latest blockbuster?

Terri Akman

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Terri Akman is a writer in Philadelphia. Readers may send her email at terribakman@gmail.com. She wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Terri Akman is a writer in Philadelphia. Readers may send her email at terribakman@gmail.com. She wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer.