‘Movie Tickets $150,’ Lucas And Spielberg Say: Here’s Why They’re Wrong

Movie Tickets At 150, More Reason To Leave Theater For TV

Movie tickets could climb to $150, according to filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, who predicted a film “implosion” in the near future.

The comments were made at a University of Southern California panel on Thursday, Good Morning America reports.

Spielberg observed that the next Iron Man film “will cost you $25,” while in typical Lucas-overdoing-it fashion, the Star Wars creator went big, suggesting that doozy of a number in the headline.

While Spielberg’s dire take was considerably more realistic than his long-time friend’s, no one should confuse their creativity, imagination, and filmmaking skills, with any kind of business insight.

In short, they’re completely wrong about movie tickets reaching $150 (or even $25), and here’s why:

1. Going to the movies isn’t what it used to be.

First of all, my wife and I already feel guilty taking money out of the family budget to go see a “normally” priced movie because with two evening movie tickets, we pay $17. Sharing a large popcorn and drink — big spender here — we’re up to $30. God forbid we add candy to the tab. After spending all that money for just two people, we fight for our seats and worry about someone in the audience acting like a jackass or answering their phone, which could also fall under the “acting like a jackass” header, so just combine those two, will you?

(And if you do this, I’m afraid we can’t be friends.)

Secondly, 3D movie tickets are a tough enough sell at $13 or $15. What makes George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, or anyone from Tinseltown, think we’re willing to go higher than that?

For those prices, you would expect the technology to turn a crappy movie into a good one, but surprisingly, it doesn’t. Nor does it add to the enjoyment of a quality motion picture. If anything, it distracts.

Case in point, if I go to the movies and want to see anything, I have to wear my glasses. (I’ve never been comfortable cramming a contact lens into my eye.) Needless to say, going to see 3D, I feel like an idiot sitting there with the extra hardware on my skull. Incidentally, my wife wears contacts, and she doesn’t like 3D either.

But if that’s not enough to convince you, let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

A trip over to Box Office Mojo reveals that the top 10 highest grossing months in the history of cinema have been as follows:

Movie Ticket Prices At 150, Actuals Give A Skewed Account Of Success

As you can see, 2004 through 2012 have dominated. But in the upper right-hand corner of the above image, you’ll see a drop menu that says “Actuals.” We’re going to click that arrow and change it to “Est. Tckts,” or estimated number of movie tickets sold. Let’s see what happens:

Movie Tickets At 150, Estimated Ticket Sales Say, 'Think Again'

Wow. The most recent year in the top 10 is 2011, and it comes in at number nine. Most of the slots date back 10 years and beyond. The number three slot goes to January 1982 in which 187.17 million movie tickets were sold. According to NPG.org, the US population at that time was close to 232 million compared to about 310 million today. This brings us to the next point:

2. Consumers have choices.

As Academy Award-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris) recently noted, the quality projects are now going to television. (Bertolucci cited Mad Men and Breaking Bad as examples, and we heartily agree.) Characters like Walter White, Dexter Morgan, and Don Draper, have time to develop, and by the end of a season, you feel like you’ve read a really good novel.

Spielberg himself admitted on Thursday that his Oscar-nominated film Lincoln was almost an HBO joint.

And television doesn’t cost nearly as much as a trip to the movies, plus you can watch it in the convenience of your home at your own pace with HD resolution, surround sound, $1 to $2 movie candy plus a $1.50 two-liter bottle of soda from wherever you buy groceries, and no obnoxious patrons.

Plus, watching TV through Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Crackle, to name a few, allows you to more easily personalize content so that you’re only paying for the kinds of things you want to see, and you’re doing so with little to zero commercial interruptions or restraints on content.

3. Hollywood needs youth, but…

Young people have the ability to turn any stupid idea into a blockbuster hit. (We won’t name names, but they’re probably some of the same movies that popped into your head.) Unfortunately, record high student loans, parents’ financial hardships, an increase in automation technology for jobs that a young person could once do to make extra spending money, and a faltering education system that no longer prepares young people for the real-world job market, mean that Hollywood won’t have their go-to meal tickets much longer.

Besides, young people “get” technology more easily than us old fogies, and as a result, it’s much easier for them to pirate whatever they can’t afford. And on that note:

4. Piracy will become more prevalent in response to higher prices, and Hollywood is inept at fighting against it.

In an interview with Stuff, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said it best when he offered this advice for how to fight piracy: “The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options. One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the Internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.”

But does Hollywood listen to the industry that’s kicking its butt? No, they hire a team of lawyers to issue an 84-page report calling for Congress to legalize spyware, malware, trojans, and ransomware, so they can root around on your computer looking for evidence of illegally obtained files.

Hm. So we’ve established Hollywood is pretty thick-headed in how it deals with the movie-going public. With that in mind, maybe movie tickets will go up to ridiculous levels, but they certainly won’t stay there. It’s non-sustainable. And hopefully, that’s something even they can figure out. The industry’s survival will depend on it.

[Image via Voxxi]

About the author

Chase H. Williams

Chase H. Williams is a writer, serial entrepreneur, professional procrastinator, dreamer, explorer and risk taker. He’s been weightless aboard a NASA C9-B aircraft and his head hasn’t quite come back down from the clouds. Visit his website @ chasewritescopy.com