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TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY

        

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Movies are more expensive than ever. Thank you, inflation. According to the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) the average ticket price nationally is $9.16. And tickets in big cities like New York and Los Angeles range from $15 to $20 ($10 to $12 for matinees), and still more for 3-D shows, IMAX, D-Box and special screenings, such as those offered by Fathom Events. In Salt Lake City, average adult prices are $9.75 ($7.25 for matinees), with upgrades for those showings listed above, plus hikes for Cinemark’s XD auditoriums and Megaplex’s luxury seats. If you investigate, there are ways to save money with discount days, matinees, student/senior prices and some chains’ “clubs,” and the only local sub-run house in town these days, Cinemark Movies 9 (in Sandy) where the top price is — wait for it — $2! Of course, 40 years ago the average ticket price was $2.34, according to NATO, and we still complained about it. Here are a few brief column excerpts from my Deseret News movie critic days (the late 1970s through the late ’90s) to give you an idea of fluctuating prices way back when, which may help you understand what is meant when people of a certain age refer to ‘the good old days,’ including references to some theaters that no longer exist. (And when’s the last time you could get popcorn, Red Vines and a Coke for $10?)

July 15, 1981: The ultimate critic is the person who puts down his $3 or $4 for a ticket (quoting a Paramount Pictures marketing executive).

May 29, 1983: (“Return of the Jedi”) has the distinction of raising box-office admission for adults in the Salt Lake area to the price that has been the norm in larger cities for some time — $5. Whether admission prices for other films will follow suit remains to be seen. If you find $5 too stiff and can wait until July 1, they’ll start taking reduced admission tickets again then (those $2.50 credit-union tickets).

May 27, 1984: This was the last week for Tuesday “dollar days,” when you could get into Mann or Trolley movies for a buck. Whether they will return after the summer remains to be seen but for the time being they have departed. You may have noticed that “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” isn’t even accepting discount tickets. Even the so-called “dollar” houses are $1.50 now. Do I really remember paying 50 cents as a kid? Maybe that was my father.

      

June 29, 1986: Plitt Theaters announced Friday that is now offering bargain-hour prices before 6 p.m. What’s that you say? Big deal? Lots of local theaters have discount prices before 6 p.m.? True. But not seven days a week, including holidays. If you can’t get up in time for that 10 a.m. show Friday you can still see “The Karate Kid, Part II” – or any movie playing at Plitt Theaters for that matter – for less than the regular price, $3 instead of $5. Even on Independence Day. It’s not exactly discount tickets – Mann and Century still have that stronghold for evening discounts during the week – but it’s a move in the right direction.

July 27, 1986: Plitt Theaters still doesn’t have discount tickets but it continues to add discount shows. You know already that you can get into a show for $3 any day (including weekends and holidays) before 6 p.m. Now you can get into those later shows for $3.50 if you have a student I.D. (high school, college, whatever) or if you are a senior citizen. And to take it one step further, you an also get in for $2.50 on Tuesdays – any show, any time, each and every Tuesday. I can remember that. Every other Tuesday is payday around here.

Dec. 6, 1987: So you think the $5 you pay for a movie in Salt Lake City is a bit much? The next time you go to New York, try catching a flick at one of the Cineplex Odeon’s two Manhattan theaters. Admission is $7. At most New York movie theaters tickets are still only $6, as is the case in some Los Angeles theaters. The $7 price is still somewhat experimental in New York and exhibitors aren’t completely sold on the idea, fearing a drop in business. And that’s certainly understandable. At $7 a seat, that’s $14 for you and your date, plus as much as $10 for popcorn, Red Vines and Coke.

         

June 4, 1989: If you haven’t been to a Mann Theater lately you may not know that the admission price has jumped from $5 to $5.50. That’s the standard adult price now at the Cottonwood, Creekside, Flick, Mann 6 and Villa theaters. Children’s and senior citizens’ admissions have also increased, from $3 to $3.50. That’s also the increase for matinee admission prices. But group activity discount tickets will remain at $3 for the time being. Cineplex Odeon Theaters will keep the $5 cap at its theaters but unchanged are the $5 adult admission and the $3 charge for children, senior citizens, early shows (before 6 p.m.) and discount tickets. Cineplex also offers a $3.50 student price for 12- to 16-year-olds. There is irony at work here since Cineplex Odeon was the first theater chain to hit the $7 admission price in New York a couple of years ago. Now there are Mann and Cineplex Odeon Theaters in Los Angeles that charge $7, though most Mann Theaters there are still at $6.50. And if that’s not startling enough, Cineplex Odeon is building a multiplex theater in Manhattan that will have a $10 ticket price! It comes with a guaranteed reservation for weekend shows, allowing the moviegoer to arrive at showtime to avoid standing in line. Maybe $5.50 isn’t so bad, after all. But, of course, $5 is better.

Aug. 6, 1989: Movie admissions in Tokyo are $11 and more, depending on the exchange rate! Japanese ticket prices are the highest in the world and moviegoing is already starting to drop as a result. Eleven dollars seems a long way from the $5.50 top admission prices locally but it doesn’t seem so far off from New York’s $7 at some theaters.