PHOTO: The Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne is one of the cinemas to start charging $20 for tickets. Photo: Louie Douvis
TTN: Going out is becoming harder still for Australians as two prominent Sydney cinemas put their normal adult ticket prices above $20. Norton St Leichardt’s Palace Cinema’s chief executive, Benjamin Zeccola, said price-conscious consumers need to shop around, whilst Amalgamated Holdings, the publicly listed, Packer-run owner of Event Cinemas, still claim tickets are under-priced.
Movie tickets hit epic levels as they cross $20 barrier
In what could a psychological barrier for movie-goers, the top price of an ordinary cinema ticket has hit $20.
Two Sydney cinemas have pioneered the price increase — the Cremorne Orpheum and Palace Norton Street in Leichhardt — and others are expected to follow around the country soon.
“It’s just a question of a short period of time,” said the chief executive of Palace Cinemas, Benjamin Zeccola, who blamed increases in wages, rent and maintenance and energy costs.
“Ticket prices need to keep pace with rising costs. It’s horrendously expensive running cinemas.”
The top price for a traditional 2D movie at other cinemas in Sydney and Melbourne remains $19.50, with the major cinema chains charging more for “premium” sessions — 3D movies on giant screens cost up to $26.50 and Gold Class-style cinemas cost up to $42.50.
But as prices increase, cinemas are also heavily discounting to drive ticket sales.
The Orpheum offers students $5 tickets on Monday nights and the Palace chain has $5 tickets for members of the industry union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, this weekend.
And some cinemas have started discounting tickets during the final days of a film’s run.
The deputy general manager at the Orpheum, Alex Temesvari, said tougher deals from film distributors had contributed to higher ticket prices.
“Even for some art-house or more limited releases, the terms are going up if they’re going through a major distributor,” he said.
‘Ticket prices go up every couple of years but it still ends up being the cheapest form of entertainment overall.”
David Seargeant, the managing director of Amalgamated Holdings, which owns Event cinemas, believes cinema tickets are “still a little under-priced” compared to other entertainment.
“We’ve been well over the $20 mark for some time because of the surcharge for 3D and Vmax [in cinemas with bigger seats and screens]. If you’re watching a film in Vmax, you’re going to pay another $3 or $4 depending on the location and that’s a very popular option …
“We don’t get very much, if any, negative feedback on our Vmax pricing because it’s such a great experience.”
Even as prices hit $20, discounting means the average ticket at Norton Street costs $12.50.
“If you’re price conscious, there are so many ways to access a cheaper ticket,” Mr Zeccola said.
“You just browse the websites, look for movies clubs and discount days and there are special offers all the time.”
The increased prices come after national box office dipped 2.3 per cent last year to $1.1 billion.
The chairman of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, Marc Wooldridge, said Australians continued to be among the world’s most frequent cinema-goers but piracy was threatening the business.
Currently ticket prices in Canberra are $15-$18 (excluding “cheap Mondays” and loyalty card memberships). But once online booking fees are included, tickets at some cinemas are $19.50, just shy of the $20 mark.
Basic adult tickets in Perth range from $17.50 to $19.50, while Brisbane CBD remains the cheapest at $17.50.