The largest global movie theater chain, AMC Theatres, continues to make changes to try and draw customers to the cinema in an era of on-demand streaming. AMC stock prices dropped quite a bit in 2022, and in 2023 the company is implementing a new pricing system. How will AMC's charging by seat location work?
Whereas buying a ticket to a movie theater typically costs the same for every seat sold for the same showing, now AMC plans to charge much like venues for live theatrical performances. In other words, the best seats will cost more. AMC stated that the cheapest tier of seats will cost the same as a traditional ticket.
What is AMC's new pricing plan?
AMC calls its new plan for pricing tickets Sightline at AMC. With this new initiative, standard seats will cost the same as a traditional ticket, and AMC says those seats are the most plentiful in its theatres. The company stated that this pricing arrangement is similar to that of other entertainment venues and that it offers more choice to moviegoers.
The three movie ticket pricing tiers will be Standard, Value, and Preferred Sightline. AMC hasn't specified the starting prices for each of those levels yet. However, it said that Preferred Sightline refers to seats in the middle, at what it called a "slight premium to Standard Sightline seats."
Value Sightline seats will cost slightly less than Standard Sightline seats and are located in the front row of a movie auditorium. Other select ADA seats will usually be included in the Value Sightline tier. The pricing plan seems to be a permanent one, unlike the Black History month specials that sell $5 tickets to all for select movies and dates.
Will all AMC movies now charge with the new pricing tiers?
Not all movies will have this pricing, and it isn't at all AMC locations yet, either. AMC's press release says that it has already rolled out at select locations, though it didn't specify where. Sightline tickets will be "expanded to all domestic AMC and AMC DINE-IN locations by the end of the year."
Also key to recognize about the new AMC pricing change: it isn't for all movie showtimes across the board. Sightline pricing will only apply to shows beginning after 4 p.m. and it won't apply to Discount Tuesdays. Therefore, if you wanted to avoid tiered pricing, you could try to go to the movies in the early afternoon instead.
What are people saying about the AMC prices based on seat location?
Predictably, many took to social media after the announcement to air their grievances about AMC's new pricing system. One Facebook commenter stated, "I got the Firestick, no need to go to AMC! You wanna charge more for tickets... Bye!"
Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood criticized the movie theater chain as well. As Variety reported, Wood wrote, “The movie theater is and always has been a sacred democratic space for all. This new initiative by AMC Theatres would essentially penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income.”
Variety also quoted John Rocha, YouTube film critic, as saying it was a "classist" move. “IMAX, 4DX, 3D, Screen X charging more makes sense since you’re getting the film in a new way."
Some people liked the change in ticket pricing.
Not everyone appeared upset after hearing about the pricing tiers. Some seemed happy about the chance to reserve a seat they prefer, which is what AMC stated as a priority, saying that some moviegoers prioritize seating while others prioritize simply going to the movies at all.
We'll provide updates on the ticket pricing plan as they become available. We'll see if AMC continues to expand the number of locations that use the pricing plan and how moviegoers react to the change.