The great film ticket price problem

Do you ever find yourself visiting your local cinema and thinking: “Blimey, those nachos are a bit expensive!” The truth is, the price gap between the real world and movie-land is vast, a bag of Minstrels in a high street shop or local convenience store might set you back £1.50-£2.00, whereas in cinemas this price jumps up to £2.75 or even £3.00.

Of course, this is nothing new, there are endless ways to cheekily nab money off us these days, but what’s the real reason? Shameless money grabbing, or something more?

Cinemas generally don’t get all the money from the tickets they sell, as you might assume, in fact the figure is closer to 20%, with most of the money going to film distribution companies, not even to the actors and actresses themselves.

When you hear news of Quantum of Solace raking in the most money at the box office in history on opening day then you have to take that into account, since it’s likely Daniel Craig won’t be seeing any of that money, he’s on a fixed contract from Sony for £5million, which goes up to £8million for Bond 23.

Spiralling film budgets from the last few years have only fuelled the fire, with the cost of a typical Hollywood film breaking the $100million mark in 1997, which jumped to over $200million by 2004, but suffered in 2006, when the average Hollywood budget dropped by $2.5million.

The biggest budget film in recent years was Bryan Singer‘s shaky hit Superman Returns which set Warner Brothers back a whopping $268million (£170million), not including the marketing and promotion, meaning the film had to collect over $600million worldwide just to break even.

Interestingly, low budget films continue to be the only area of film making which is consistently profitable, with Saw II taking $4million and turning it into $144million.

The ever-increasing cost of film-making is causing audiences pockets to be left bare, tickets are far more expensive these days compared to the 1970s, when an average adult film ticket was around 61p (£2.20 in 2008 money).

Of course, things are a lot different here up North compared to if you venture into the nation’s bustling capital, where West End cinemas can see tickets rise as high as £12.50 for adults, making it all the more un-appealing to fork out for a tub of popcorn rather than sneaking in some Jaffa Cakes.

In Stockport earlier this year, Adam Glennon was physically thrown out of the Cineworld cinema for taking in his own sweets.

He said he’d bought about £5 worth of sweets, crisps and bottled drink to take in, which would have cost well over £10 if bought inside the cinema, but Cineworld operates a strict ‘no food’ policy.

He told the Stockport Express:

“It costs a small fortune to buy sweets from the cinema and they don’t take this into account when people with little money just want to watch a film.”

Vue specifies in its legal terms and conditions that

“Hot food brought from outside of the cinema may not be consumed on the premises”

but doesn’t saying anything about cold food, such as chocolate, or drinks.

Odeon have no problem with customers taking in their own food, providing it’s not a take-away and there’s no alcohol involved. The cinema giants are more worried about film piracy and people bringing in recording equipment, the results of which are difficult to appreciate when faced with the ever-increasing amount of films available on the internet.

Another pillar of cinema money-making is advertising, which is estimated to create £214million this year, and cinemas will take a fair chunk of that, but its not an astronomical figure when you consider generally 3.5million people visit the cinema each week.

Pearl and Dean, which represents a third of the cinema advertising market, reports that £26.4million so far this year has been spent on car advertising, meaning it isn’t just our collective imagination that car adverts are never-ending, but it comes as no surprise that the oft comical Orange mobile phone adverts are the biggest single earners, handing over £10.9million.

With all this money flying around the industry, it’s easy to feel put out by the ‘evil’ corporations, but in reality a student cinema ticket (fellow students, don’t forget that NUS extra card!) will only set you back around £5, which is about the same as you pay for a couple of pints of beer and a bag of crisps on a typical night, so compared to those West End film lovers; we’ve got it good.

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