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Low Cost Cinema Through Dynamic Pricing 385

Posted by michael
from the pack-'em-in dept.
cinesprocket writes "EasyJet, the European pioneer of LowCost airline travel has broadened its horizon into the entertainment field. easyCinema is to open tomorrow in Milton Keynes, England, offering cinema-goers cheap rate tickets as low as 20 pence (33 cents) using the same formula that made their airline company revolutionise the industry in Europe. However, according to the the BBC, easyCinema is being given the bird by Hollywood who will not allow it to show it's high cost movies for a low price for fear that it will create a domino effect in the future, like the airline industry has felt (in Europe). Given that easyCinema is willing to pay the movie producers the same price as the other multiplexes, it shouldn't matter what price they sell on the tickets at for we poor folk? Their success depends upon showing the big films and their lawyers are reported to be already mounting a case. Given that the case will be heard in England, where the MPAA have less of a hold on the government, it will be interesting whether they can bring the behemoth to its knees."
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Low Cost Cinema Through Dynamic Pricing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:07AM (#6029443)
    Tickets to the Matrix 2 would've cost $5,402,302.49 each.
    • Tickets to the Matrix 2 would've cost $5,402,302.49 each. easyCinema is to open tomorrow in Milton Keynes, England. That's £3,294,893.32 to you.
    • I think that's a little high, but I have no problem with a theatre charging $50 or $100 for an opening weekend. If a movie sells out at $7 a seat, then you'd be a nut if you didn't start charging $10.

      Wouldn't it be nice to get in to see LOTR part 3 on opening weekend without having to deal with people who weren't really dedicated to seeing the movie? I stood in line behind two 13-year-olds who spend like 3 hours tryiong to explain the first movie to their grandpa. The whole time i was thinking "what a w
  • Wha lawyers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Have Blue (616) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:10AM (#6029456) Homepage
    Courts? Why are there courts involved? Is easyCinema trying to force the MPAA to sign a contract? Is the MPAA trying to get easyCinema shut down even though they aren't doing business with each other?
    • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Throatwarbler Mangro (584565) <delisle42@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:35AM (#6029549) Homepage
      Yes, easyCinema, in their way, is trying to force the MPAA into signing a contract.

      If, like most /. readers, you follow[ed] the myriad Microsoft court cases (or browse practically half of the YRO section) you'll remember that there are some things that ordinary companies can do that monopolies can't.

      Normally a company can decide who it wants to do business with. That's just common sense, not to mention an important facet of the free market. A monopoly, on the other hand, by virtue of being the [near] sole provider of a resource cannot be allowed that luxury. To make a borderline facile analogy: Suppose a pharmaceutical company developed a cure for cancer, and cornered the market on same. Also assume that have, for our hypothetical purposes, a near-infinite supply of same. Would we allow that company to refuse the cure to certain people, even if they were willing to pay the specified price? Obviously, this isn't an exact analog to the situation (this situation would probably be brought under charges of discrimination, rather than monopolism), but it servers the purpose.

      Is the MPAA a monopoly? While I'm sure a large percentage of Slashdotters have a very strong opinion on that subject, ulitmately it remains for the courts to decide.

      • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:5, Informative)

        by blowdart (31458) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:15AM (#6029790) Homepage
        Yes, easyCinema, in their way, is trying to force the MPAA into signing a contract

        No they're not. The MPAA is American. Easycinema is in the UK. I didn't realise that we were offically another american state (although these days it does appear that way).

        As for lawyers, well Stelios likes them. As he owns EasyJet, EasyRentaCar and others, he has a nasty tendancy to sue for any domain name that starts with Easy* and Easi*. When ICANN started ruling against him in domain disputes he stopped using it, and starting using the UK courts instead. He's got great PR, but underneath it all he wants his own monopoly on domain names. He finally backed down in the case of EasyArt [theregister.co.uk]. You may want to read up at easyprotest2.com [easyprotest2.com] and consider if this is the sort of person geeks should be backing.

        • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Throatwarbler Mangro (584565) <delisle42@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:32AM (#6029809) Homepage
          Oops. The American bit at the end of MPAA really should've given me a clue... Whatever the UK-specific lobbying group is called, it still represents the same faction: Hollywood studios.

          Interesting link, as well. It also brings up an interesting problem; when you hate both sides, who do you root for? Stelios may be a total wanker, but I'm gonna' pick price-fixing over domain-name squabbling as the greater evil. That's a judgment call on my part, YMMV.

        • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by matthewp (19841)
          blowdart wrote: You may want to read up at easyprotest2.com and consider if this is the sort of person geeks should be backing.

          True, but we should also be able to move beyond tribal politics and recognise that we can support someone on one issue, and oppose them on another.

          There's a wide variety of views here at Slashdot (though it's sometimes tempting to assume everyone thinks the same), but many here don't have much time for abusive monopolies. It's entirely consistent to support easyCinema on this, w
          • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld (263942) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @08:20AM (#6030290) Homepage
            True, but we should also be able to move beyond tribal politics and recognise that we can support someone on one issue, and oppose them on another.

            The economic model that Stelios is trying is called penetration pricing. You sell at a loss, capture the market and then you jack up the prices once there is no competition. In the US where antitrust law is weak that is legal unless you are a monopoly. In the UK it is illegal regardless.

            There is a lot of ownership overlap between distributors and cinemas, but that has been invesigated by the monopolies and mergers commission and ok'd.

            It is not very likely that a UK court is going to decide that the distributors have no rights over the type and quality of the venues where their films are shown.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Why? The MPAA is NOT in the business of making and distributing movies. The have never made a single commercial film in their entire existence. The MPAA is an organization of movie studios with the aim of promoting their interests. Movie studios are the ones who are in this business, and there a lot of them. More than one. Really. When's the last time you saw a movie that was brought to you by the MPAA? This is like saying the OpenGL consortium has a monopoly on OpenGL business.

        Once again, Slashdot shows i
      • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:5, Informative)

        by oolon (43347) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @04:42AM (#6029946)
        Yes and no, he is trying to get the film manufacturers to sign a fixed price contract so he knows how much to charge but they only want to sign the normal one were they get a share of the takings. Historically this agreement has been good and bad, it HAS ment that poor cinemas and low volume ones could take films they otherwise could never justify. Some cinemas would have never been able to afford the upfront cost (and infact risk). In the days of multiplexs and chains it has also been used laterly to milk big hits. I got to see Matrix reloaded at my local multiplex (I have 2 walking distance from my house) and didn't think that the 3 pounds (4.5 dollars) was alot to pay for my ticket, that would have bought me one pint of Guiness in london and lasted ALOT longer (some might say two long....)

        James
    • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by citog (206365) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @02:08AM (#6029635)
      The courts are involved because the film distributors are creating a monopoly that keeps ticket prices artifically high. You could probably accuse the cinemas of operating a cartel also. easyCinema are prepared to pay the going rate to screen the movie but are going to allow the ticket price to be determined by market forces. However they are prevented from doing so because a monopoly is profiting from the exclusion of market forces. Therefore this is a case for the courts (in the UK and other EU countries) because consumers are impacted.
      • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by KewlPC (245768) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:51AM (#6029839) Homepage Journal
        Except you forget that the movie's makers get their money from ticket sales, at least they do here in the US.

        Even if easyCinema offered to make up for the difference in ticket price (which they aren't; they're just saying they'll pay the same amount for the right to show the film as the other theaters, which is very small compared to the film's actual budget), easyCinema's price for everything else (candy, drinks, etc.) would skyrocket (why do you think theaters charge so much already? When you only get 50% of the ticket price, you've got to make your money elsewhere).

        Typically here in the US, the distributor gets 50%, and the theater gets the other 50%. The distributor then takes their 50% and divides it up amongst all remaining parties according to their contract(s) with said remaining parties.

        And the MPAA isn't a monopoly. It doesn't make movies, it doesn't distribute them, and it doesn't advertise them, therefor it can't be a monopoly. The whole point of the MPAA originally was to be a non-governmental regulatory force (here in the States, it's the MPAA that gives the movies their (voluntary) rating; it was also the MPAA that decided the dispute between New Line Cinema and MGM over the name of Austin Powers: Goldmember), but its purpose has been extended a bit since then.

        What's more, the member studios compete against each other, and none of them are monopolies.

        If ordered that since they allow other theaters to exhibit their films they must also allow easyCinema to, it could be very likely that the major Hollywood studios would simply not distribute their films in theaters at all, since they don't make much money in the UK anyway (even non-fluff, non-action films make only a few million in the UK).

        Ultimately, I think that this will hurt everybody: the big Hollywood studios, the UK studios, and the independents, since 50% of a 33 cent ticket price is only 16.5 cents. At that rate, even if everyone in the United States (population is approx. 280 million) saw a film, it would only pull in 46.2 million. And since the percentage of any country's population that see a particular film is incredibly small, films would make far less.

        But how would this hurt the moviegoing public? Simple: far fewer films will get made (if any), they will be much shorter, and of far lower quality.
        • Ah: so businesses should collude to keep prices high.... why again? Can you explain what deviation from free market theory you're talking about here: why wouldn't an equilibrium be reached, whereby people's demands for quality movies would be represented accurately in how much they are willing to pay?
        • Perhaps you should consider actually reading the referenced article before posting. First, easyCinema isn't going to sell refreshments of any kind, so it's hard to see how they can jack up the prices. Second, 20p is the minimum price, for those who book well in advance at an unpopular time. They're expecting an average price of £1.50 per ticket, which seems more viable.

          And in any case, even if Hollywood only made $500,000 profit from distributing a blockbuster in the UK, why wouldn't they do it? It'

          • Re:Wha lawyers? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by KewlPC (245768)
            They wouldn't do it out of fear that the idea would catch on among American theaters. So they'd just not distribute films in the UK (at least for a while), to make a point.

            I don't know how things are over there, but here in the US people seem perfectly willing to pay $8.50 for a ticket. As an example, The Matrix: Reloaded made $134 million during opening weekend.

            When it comes to concessions, I wasn't just talking about easyCinema, but rather to theaters in general.

            But as others have said, you shouldn't e
  • MPAA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Soulfarmer (607565) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:10AM (#6029457) Homepage Journal
    should be US-only problem. If something, in this case rights to show a movie in a theather, is sold to europe, MPAA should not have ANY say in the matter. As long as both parties of the deal which gives those rights follow the deal.

    It makes me angry to even think about any meddling from MPAA part on british, or any european film avenue for that matter.
    • Re:MPAA (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      First, the MPAA has a subdivision or something called the MPA, which handles stuff outside the US. Second, the movie studios can sell to whomever they want. It's their movies (or rather, their members movies). I don't quite understand their logic here, but "they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone".
      • Re:MPAA (Score:2, Interesting)

        by malfunct (120790)
        Except (as it has been stated before) in the case that they are a monopoly in which case as the sole provider of the service they have less choice of who they sell to so long as those people are willing to pay the same price as everyone else purchasing the product.
        • Except that the MPA and the MPAA aren't monopolies. They can't be, because they make no actual product, nor do they have anything to do with the distribution terms of individual films.

          It's the MPAA member studios that make the films, and it's up to those studios and their distributors to negotiate the distribution terms for their films. The MPAA has nothing to do with it. What's more, the studios compete with each other, eliminating any chance of there being a monopoly.
          • And this is known as collusion: which is the exact same effect as a monopoly. I guess if all the oil companies get together to agree to keep prices high, that's not a monopoly, since they are all competitors, right?
  • Understandable. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m_chan (95943) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:10AM (#6029458) Homepage
    The money for the release locations is in concessions. Get the body in the door, then make your dime. Ticket price is not the principle motivating factor in the business model of most theaters, regardless of whether they are first-run mega-plexes or indie houses. SUre enough tickets are revenue, but that's not your profit center when you run a theater.
    • Re:Understandable. (Score:4, Informative)

      by SchnauzerGuy (647948) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:20AM (#6029493)
      RTFA...
      "But that's not the only radical idea behind this venture. At Easycinema there is no popcorn stand, hot dog stall or pick 'n' mix concession. In fact, there is not even a box office."
      ...
      "The sign above the old pick 'n' mix concession remains, but the fittings have been stripped out and it will stay empty. We don't aspire to be professional caterers, we aspire to show films people want to see James Rothnie, Easygroup The same goes for the old refreshments counter. If customers want popcorn at Easycinema they will have to bring their own, says Mr Rothnie. "When you look at the cost of serving popcorn it's actually quite expensive - you have to buy it, cook it, employ people to sell it, get a health and safety person to check it's at the right temperature. "Then you have to employ someone to clean it up after the show. We don't aspire to be professional caterers, we aspire to show films people want to see." "
      • Re:Understandable. (Score:5, Informative)

        by m_chan (95943) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:50AM (#6029584) Homepage
        Whether or not the parent post gave complete credence to their business plan doesn't matter. Your cut and paste from the fine article does not change the fact that movie theatre profit is generated principally from concessions, and should their model prove successful, others will copy it but won't mind paying the "high cost" of popcorn serving.

        It [howstuffworks.com] is [thedesertsun.com] documented [didntialre...smovie.com] concessions are the principle motivator in the venture of showing feature releases. If there is sufficient demand for popcorn when the bodies arrive, it will be understandable when they will sell popcorn.
    • Re:Understandable. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:24AM (#6029511)
      Ticket price is not the principle motivating factor in the business model of most theaters

      I disagree. I was visiting in Texas when X-men came out. Saw it in a first run, nice theater in the Dallas area. Matinee tickets were 2 bucks for an adult, Saturday evening tickets were $4. Back here in North Carolina the same tickets were $5.75 for the matinee show and over $8 for the evening show. Clearly the local theater was charging that to make extra profits, and their concession prices are so high that most people avoid them. Other local theaters (different chains) charge similar prices.

      • Re:Understandable. (Score:4, Informative)

        by KewlPC (245768) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @04:05AM (#6029860) Homepage Journal
        Ticket prices vary from area to area. It has nothing to do with what the theater wants or what the market will support, at least not directly. It's very rare that the individual theaters get to decide what they charge. Rather, the corporate suits are the ones who decide. There is constant arguing/negotiating between the MPAA members and the NATO members (no, not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but the National Association of Theater Owners) over how much to charge for each area.

        And the matinee prices don't really matter, since relatively few people see a movie during matinee hours.

        Don't bitch about $8. In New York the prices are something like $10. Here in Phoenix, AZ they're $8.50.

        I have a hard time believing that there exists a decent theater in a decent-sized town that still only charges $4 for a non-senior/child, non-matinee ticket.
    • Re:Understandable. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bmcphall (560577) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:26AM (#6029518)
      If you go to their site, it proclaims that there is "NO rip-off popcorn". They encourage to bring your own, just do not make a mess.

      They make their money by cutting the overhead:

      "The efficiency of easyCinema starts at the box office which we have quite simply removed. Seats are booked online or by phone (soon to be available on a premium rate line), and the earlier you book the less you pay."
      They also try to get a larger quantity of people:
      "On average across the whole cinema industry and across all showings the average occupancy of cinemas is currently only 20%. Four fifths of cinema seats are going empty and yet cinemas continue to charge high prices. What we are doing at easyCinema is lowering the price in order to get more customers. We will make money as a business and more members of the public will get to see more films more often."
      It crazy enough it just might work.
      • Except that no matter how little you charge, there are always going to be empty seats during the day, during the week, and for films that have been out for a while.
      • Seats for free (Score:2, Informative)

        by klang (27062)
        If they are going to run theatres as they do the airline company, it doesn't matter if the seats are cheap. Cheap is still better than Zero, which is exactly what the cinema industry seems to get on 80% of their seats. The actual, base line, cost of showing a movie, or flying a plane remains the same no matter the number of occupied seats .. THAT's why this will work.

        Don't think that EVERY seat is going for 20p .. some will, but certainly not all!

        /klang
    • EasyJet is not as cheap an airline as it is cracked up to be. All other companies in the UK advertise an inclusive price so the comparison is ruined when you compare prices with EasyJet's exclusive price. He also runs a car hire business along the same lines. I do not use either as I prefer to know where I stand and get given an inclusive price that is not going to have loads of additions later. There are many low cost options here so it is not hard to find alternatives.

      I already wonder how the cinema
  • and (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisMG999 (308536) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:12AM (#6029468)
    If theatres in the States were willing to do this (Highly Unlikely), I would be much more willing to go see movies in the theatre rather than downloading them.
    • Yes, in this way more people go to theatres, but MPAA still gets the same amount of money from each theatre, and theatres probably won't have much better profit (maybe a little better) on account of the lower price, so they can hardly pay more to MPAA. The end result is that you enjoy better quality films, the big guys have no more profit than they currently have, and their lobbying becomes less effective because piracy seems to be not that important after all. In short, you gain a little and they lose a
  • pricing (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:14AM (#6029474) Journal
    I don't know about Europe, but in the US, the movie theatre pricing is royally fucked up.

    First week, distributor gets 90% of the ticket sales, theatre gets 10%

    Second week, distributor gets 80% of the ticket sales, theatre gets 20%

    etc.

    The only way a theatre can make money is if the movie is so popular people want to see it 2 months later (star wars (original one!)), or by selling overpriced popcorn.

    • Re:pricing (Score:5, Informative)

      by asparagus (29121) <koonce@g m a i l . com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:40AM (#6029560) Homepage Journal
      You forgot the 'nut', or the weekly minimum theatre take. The numbers vary from film to film, but in a typical eight week run the split between exhibition/distribution is closer to 50/50. Or, in other words, the theatre ends up with $5 of that ten dollar ticket, no matter what they're telling you about the evils of the MPAA. European numbers are similar.
    • That isn't royally fucked up.

      How exactly do you propose that filmmakers recoup their costs? Especially independent filmmakers, who don't have a large studio backing them up with product placements and toys and deals with McDonalds?

      And I don't think this idea would work well in the US. Over here, people want service. If the picture is fucked up, they want to be able to tell a human being about it. If some asshat won't STFU, they want an actual human to throw the dickhead out. And they want their popcorn an
      • Re:pricing (Score:3, Informative)

        by elvum (9344) *

        How exactly do you propose that filmmakers recoup their costs? Especially independent filmmakers, who don't have a large studio backing them up with product placements and toys and deals with McDonalds?

        They'd still get paid for the rights to show the film, just via a different system. In fact, the new system could be *better* for independents, since the current one means they get next to nothing if their film flops.

        And I don't think this idea would work well in the US. Over here, people want service.

  • distributors make money out of box office, cinemas barely keep themselves staffed and the doors unlocked on the ticket margins they recieve. Thats why coke and popcorn are so expensive and only come in two sizes: Xtra Large and INSANE!
  • Just imagine... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Code-Ex (655722) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:18AM (#6029485)
    - Frequent viewer miles - Standby viewings - Movie ticket scalping - Last minute rushes for extremely low prices - Progressive/preferential seating and all those other "niceties" ^_^
    • Re:Just imagine... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cheshiremackat (618044) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:47AM (#6029578)
      You know what... there is a cinema in Toronto that offers *First Class* stlye services like on an airline... the tickets are 50% more, BUT you get a seat in a smaller theater, with Lay-Z-Boy type seats, free coat check (a nicety for Winter in Toronto), and a cinema Peon to fetch your popcorn and water (still have to pay though)...

      So although it costs more, and I feel like a snob going, it actually becomes more reasonable everytime I see a movie at the *regular* (coach?) seating... Before the Matrix was 30 minutes of commercials, 5 (!?!) movie previews (1 good 4 crap), and waiting for the movie to start (before the lights dimm) there were slideshow ads on the screen...

      Paying first class is certainly worthwhile, just to avoid all the advertisements!

      _CMK
      • Same sort of deal: cushy seats, free popcorn and soda, you have to be 21 to get in, but each ticket costs about $18. I'd say totally worth it except that my car window got smashed in their parking lot during the X2 opening night.

        To be fair, they share the lot with the Multiplex that is part of the same building, but when I asked managment "Where are the cameras for the parking lot?", they said "The landlord won't allow them." I called the landlord and they said "What? They can have cameras if they want. I

      • wow, you've just described what all the theatres are like here in Saint Petersburg, Russia. the difference is the price: i saw the Matrix Reloaded for 150 roubles, which comes out to exactly $5.

  • Where is the MPAA or the MPA (international version) mentioned in the BBC article? Or Hollywood for that matter?

    Easycinema says it is being denied the rights to screen the blockbusters because film distributors are opposed to the company's radical pricing policy.

    In short, they don't want to see their big-budget releases being sold for a song.


    It's probably a safe assumption that the distributors are in the UK. Nice try at pushing buttons though...it did get your article posted. Next time throw in
    • Though I'm not an expert on the film business I recollect just a few months back seeing a section on 'The Money Program' on BBC about the film distribution industry in Britain.

      From what I remember one US-based distributor (Vista? or a name something like that) controls something like 80% of film distribution in Europe. Even the films that are locally financed in the UK have to use them for distribution as they have a stanglehold on the cinemas.

      That will be why Easy are talking about legal action - it IS e
      • That's Buena Vista. Owned by everyone's other favorite Evil Empire, Disney.

        But the MPA and the MPAA have nothing to do with distribution.

        It's doubtful that they'd be ruled a monopoly, since Buena Vista (via their parent corporation, Disney), only makes a handful of films. The rest, and the conditions under which they can be distributed, are determined by the company that actually makes the film.
  • Dominos are cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:21AM (#6029497)
    I sincerely hope that easyCinema appears, enjoys a lot of success, and causes exactly the domino effect that the MPAA fears. I want to see movie prices come down, and more importantly, I want to see this change affect the music industry as well. Finally, I hope that such a powerful domino effect causes laws like the DMCA to get taken out of the books.
    • Ha! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Micro$will (592938)
      Yeah, when Bill Gates decides to release the NT source code and license it GNU. Just like the record industry, the movie industry enjoys it's little spot at the top, and it will take a lot more than a few entrepreneurs to make them let go.

      The only way to make the MPAA and RIAA listen to customer demands is if there is an all out boycott. No CDs, no singles, no DVDs, no movies, no tapes, no bargain bin, no radio, no downloads, nothing... not one more penny enters their pockets, and not one byte to blame o
  • by philipgar (595691)
    what I don't understand is how this company claims to be able to make any profit. The motion picture companies have the right to charge what they want for a movie, after all how else are we going to get 200 million dollar blockbusters? What doesn't make sense is selling tickets this cheap. Sure if you plan on making money off concessions you can get away with it. But their website even said that they encourage people to bring their own sodas and popcorn. They mentioned that most theaters are only 20% f
    • by SagSaw (219314)
      It makes plenty of sense. Lets say you have a theater with 100 seats. Lets also assume that a particular screening of a film fills 75 of the 100 seats. Any money you can bring in for the remaining 25 seats increases my profit (or decreases my loss). The trick is you still want to make the people who want to see the movie regardless pay full price. Also, IIRC in some (most?) cases, the licensing is by the size of the venue not the number of attendees. At least that was the case when student government s
    • ok this place sells tickets based on how close to movie time you are buying it. Yes a ticket purchased a month in advance may cost you $.33 but how much do you think one purchased an hour before the movie costs??
  • Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Viceice (462967) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:24AM (#6029507)
    As it stands, in some parts of the not so rich world , movie tickets are just about equel that in value.

    So what if the lowest possible ticket price is 33 cents? it's just like booking a really cheap flight.. teh cheapest one being the 3 a.m flight which you have to book 6 months adead for.

    Why not have it like in a real theather, where the better seats, say smack right in the center, are more expensive then the left most seat in the front row?

    You get to advertise cheap and you have the option of paying less for a crappy seat.
    • The movie industry relies on first come first serve seating. I think assigned seating would spawn a whole new fad of calculating the end of the 15 minute advertisement and preview spiel so you can well, avoid wasting 15 minutes of your life as a zombie/whore. The MPAA would NOT stand for this either.
      • Not where i'm at. We get a ticket with a number on it. but you're free to change seats if you want to when the show starts, and theres space.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Funny)

        by hswerdfe (569925)
        I've taken to boycotting the ads.

        when the ads start, I pull my shirt over my head, and plug my ears.

        I'ts not 100% effective, not even close, but it's I kind of see those ads the same way as I see spam.

        the screen's to big to ignore,
        and you can't show up late and get a good seat.

        plus it has the added bonus of confusing the people next to me...:D
  • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @01:32AM (#6029539) Homepage Journal
    This is yet another venture by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the seventh of his easy* ventures [stelios.com]. One of these is easyJet, but he's no longer involved with the management of that company.
  • Ok.. man has a vision of creating a profitable enterprise where users pay a small sub $1.00 fee to see a movie, and is willing to pay moolah for big name hollywood films.

    This sounds terrific.

    the "domino effect" I see is in order for such an enterprise to make a profit, many people will have to go see the movie, which given the cost this still sounds great

    sooo... as a result... other theaters might actually have to lower ticket prices to attract more people

    What's the big fucking deal?

    More people watchin
    • The big deal is that the studios, contrary to all evidence and public opinion, aren't necessarily always stupid and short-sighted. At least not in this instance, since it's in their best interest.

      The "domino effect" you speak of is the competition of the free market. If a few theaters are drastically cheaper than the others, they will start to attract more business. The other theaters will all have to follow suit to maintain customers. The inevitable price war will whittle margins down to nothing.

      What

      • The "domino effect" you speak of is the competition of the free market. If a few theaters are drastically cheaper than the others, they will start to attract more business. The other theaters will all have to follow suit to maintain customers. The inevitable price war will whittle margins down to nothing

        So, what you are saying is that studios are anti-free market and are creating an enviroment where artifical price fixing is the practice, and damned anyone who actually has an inovative way of presenting t
        • Pardon me if I don't agree with you on the whole.

          I hope you'll extend me the same pardon for being slightly shocked at finding a slashdotter who isn't entirely jaded and cynical in regards to the entertainment industry. It's almost...refreshing.

          I see movie piracy and bootleging being a very large thorn in the side of studeos.

          I think this is an entirely different issue to the topic on hand. This is a case of a company wishing to purchase redistribution rights at the going rate. No one is infringing

          • No, because now you have 22x the maintenance costs (i.e. 22x as many to people to clean up after, attend to, print tickets for, provide bathrooms for, etc.) for the same profit. There's a point of diminishing returns. If half the price brings in triple the customer, then you might have something. But at this point, I think that's mostly a mathematical quibble.

            Well as illistrated in the post to begin with.... part of cost cutting would be end users printing their own barcoded ticket. That point is moot.
    • Furthermore, atleast in my little part of america, there is a drastic lack of things sub(-)21 year olds can do (legaly). Rather then wondering the streets causing trouble, they could catch a film on pocket change.

      From the looks of things, they needs ta' worry more 'bout gettin' sum good english books for skools 'round them parts.

  • open tomorrow in Milton Keynes, England

    Is that next to John Maynard Friedman, England?

    ba-dum-dum
  • am I the only one who sees the myriad of scalping possibilities with this plan? go in, buy a ticket at the cheapest possible price. The movie doesnt start for an hour or whatever, so you leave and come back. That is what I assume they expect for the cheapskates, as they dont have any reason to stay, its no frills.


    But if you are enterprising, you just grab a small business card scanner, turn it into a image and duplicate it ... clip and sell for late commers at 10% of the now higher price.. works great fo
    • Yes, because obviously the theater would never ever notice thousands of people using the same ticket, nor would they do anything to prevent people that from happening like, say, invalidating a ticket after its first use.
    • Hence the ridiculously low ticket price. Do you want to have the hassle of trying to search for a valid bar code ticket for a movie online, then print and cut out copies for all your friends, hoping that it'll actually work when you get there, all to save yourself an amount of change you would probably not pick up off the ground if the opportunity presented itself? Scalping? Scalp a 33 cent ticket for 36 cents? You spend more than that on chewing gum. If you sold 200 of them every hour you'd rake in a
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @02:29AM (#6029679) Homepage Journal
    1. Sell movie tickets for a loss.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!!!

    Tell me again why people who think the airline industry is a good place to turn a profit have a viable business model here?
  • by miyako (632510) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [okayim]> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @02:32AM (#6029692) Homepage Journal
    ...would be to not only have cheap tickets

    but to sell those super duper jumbo sodas really cheap
    ...and then charge $20 to use the bathroom

    seriously the only time you ever have to pee worse than when you wake up in the morning is right after sitting through a movie in the theatre, or is this just me?
  • by FattMattP (86246) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @02:33AM (#6029700) Homepage
    They should show some films from independent filmmakers. There are a lot of good films out there and few of them originate in Hollywood.
  • let me get this straight. They're going to follow the model of the airlines. Does that mean they'll charge less for movies that suck ass?
  • by Elentar (168685) <slashdot.ultraviolet@us> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:02AM (#6029760)
    So, if they're following the airline business model, does that mean that you can watch the movie for free, but you have to buy a ticket in order to listen to it too?

    -Elentar
  • by maxpublic (450413) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:14AM (#6029789) Homepage
    The boys presenting this scheme have a good, solid idea which has been used to before by some other industries (e.g., the airlines). Fact is, actual attendance is dismally low compared to seating when you adjust for all times, around 1/5 of the theater seats available. Decreasing price results in increasing attendance; Econ 101 tells you that in many cases the improved attendance will actually result in *more* profits, not less. That is:

    Fill 20 seats at $7 each = $140
    Fill 50 seats at $4 each = $200
    Fill 100 seats at $2.50 each = $250

    And so on.

    But the MPAA isn't interested in the basics of the free market. What they're interested in is control, pure and simple - and price fixing is one very obvious, and very effective, method of maintaining control. If you can no longer enforce price fixing then you lose one of your more important tools for controlling not only the theaters that run your movies, but also of moviegoers.

    How's that? It's really very, very simple: the higher the price the less movies the consumer can afford. Because the consumer can only see x number of movies, advertising can be used to 'herd' the consumer into spending his limited movie income on movies the MPAA chooses to push. The higher the price, the more limited the options, the more likely the consumer will spend his money on something being heavily promoted by the MPAA.

    Lower the price and the consumer can now make more movie choices. The consumer, blast his heathen soul, might decide to use some of this disposable income to see movies *not* promoted by the MPAA - perhaps smaller, independent films. The consumer, that communist scumbag, might actually begin to believe that he has a more options - he might even take some of that 'movie money' and spend it on something else! After all, if all he wants to see are two films a month, and they're now half the price that they were, he might spend the other half of the money on something radical, like a book.

    Bad, bad consumer!

    In any event, remember that the MPAA is at the top of the heap. Like any organization that's king of the hill, change is a threat to the status quo and one that must be quashed regardless of the possible upside. To the invested, change is evil and must be prevented at all costs.

    This particular change takes some power out of the hands of the MPAA and puts it into the hands of the consumer. Despite the fact that it would most likely increase overall profits, the loss of power is simply unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Price-fixing *must* be maintained.

    For organizations like the RIAA, the MPAA, or monopolies like Microsoft, profit takes a big back seat to power. The free market is of no interest whatsoever to these folks; in fact, the less free, the better.

    Max
    • For organizations like the RIAA, the MPAA, or monopolies like Microsoft, profit takes a big back seat to power. The free market is of no interest whatsoever to these folks; in fact, the less free, the better.

      They'd stab democracy in the back if it served their needs. And I'm not sure they haven't already...

      Wish upon them bitter days and bitter defeat.

  • Multiplex history (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toxcspdrmn (471013) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:31AM (#6029807) Homepage
    Milton Keynes was the first place in Britain to build a multiplex cinema. [bdp.co.uk]. The Point [powernet.co.uk] opened in 1985, but (I have heard) is having to close as it is has been unable to compete against the new Xscape [mkweb.co.uk] cinema/indoor ski/health centre.

    Incidentally, Milton Keynes is also home to probably the world's only herd of concrete cows [concretecow.com].
  • Comfy chairs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davesag (140186) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @04:20AM (#6029894) Homepage
    <opinion informed="true">I just hope that the seats they have in these easy cinemas are more comfortable than the seats in EastJet planes. If you've ever flow EasyJet you'll know that they have the most horribly uncomfortable seats. So much so I'll not fly them again. Also to fly easyjet you have to get both a train and a bus from central london all the way out to luton - adds a heap to the ticket price. then there is no allocated seating so you just have to scramble for a seat, with entry order based on the order you arrive at the airport and check in. they often delay and cancel flights at the very last minute because there are not enough seats filled. imagine this with cinema - you turn up but they don't start the show until the seats are 90% sold. so an 8:30 screening will almost always start at 9:30 or later. in the meantime you'll be watching ads. and sure they won't sell popcorn but bet your sweet ass there will be soft drink vending machines at £2 per can - or £2.50 for a bottle of water.

    nah sorry i'm all for cheaper ticket prices - but hell, go to the prince charles cinema in soho if you want cheap prices. most films there are only £2 per screening, and you can buy tickets at the box office - no need to go out and buy a printer just so you can print out your internet issued bar code.

    bollocks to that.

    also, i am in bulgaria right now and paid a grand BLV5 (= approx £1.80) to see the matrix reloaded, in english with bulgarian subtitles, in a pretty decent cinema. in the UK the cinemas in leicester square charge around £10 = £12 per ticket last time i looked, and you have been able to buy them online too for years. only you don't have to print out a stupid bar code, you just turn up, stick your credit card in the slot and it spits out your tickets. incidentally this is how BAs online flight tickets work and it rocks. you buy your tickets online and just turn up to the airport, stick your card in the slot and use the touch screen to choose your seats, answer the basic security questions and it spits out your boarding passes. then you just hand over your bags at a special desk reserved for e-ticket holders and bingo you are off. takes less than 5 minutes usually.

    all easycinema will do it force real cinemas to cut costs and that's a good thing for consumers. but only kids or the homeless would put up with their special brand of easyservice. on given this willl be a staff-free cinema i expect the kids and the homeless will get on just fine - trading glue and drugs for wood alcohol</opinion>

  • DivX vs. easyCinema (Score:2, Interesting)

    by klang (27062)
    Actually, I would say that this easyCinema idea can be used to battle DivX versions of movies .. I mean, would you bother to download a crappy version of a movie you could go see for next to nothing?

    /klang
  • by j-b0y (449975) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @05:50AM (#6030066)
    I think the easy* people have midjudged what people want from a cinema experience.

    easyJet works because, for the large majority of people (i.e. everybody who has been on a plane at least once before and aren't in >= Business Class), flights are an enormous pain in the ass and only serve as a means to an end (get to where they want to go). Their pricing model is reasonably transparent and you know what you're getting in terms of service (not a lot).

    Whereas the traditional carriers have hideously arcane and obscure pricing models and clearly are charing way over the odds for flights. The cats out of the bag on that one.

    Transpose this to the cinema industry and you find that it doesn't work. People *like* the cinema experience; the upturn in cinema attendance after the collapse in the late 80s (at least in the UK) was due in part to the far higher quality of cinema experience (pleasant environment, better seats etc etc). Going to the cinema is not just a means to an end, it's an end in itself.

    In any case, 'going to the cinema' is right up there in the top 5% of 'impulse activities'. No one is going to book 10 days in advance for a film. Personally speaking, I can seldom decide which film I'm going to see until 10 minutes before it starts. :)

    • >No one is going to book 10 days in advance for a film.

      Hold on there, boss. You're posting to a crowd who's planning on camping out at least twice that long to get the first ticket to the next Star Wars flick.
  • by BlightThePower (663950) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @07:56AM (#6030259)
    First a point of order and then an opinion...

    At the risk of pissing in the wind here... the answer to quite a few questions that are above this are in the article.

    Those confused by the viability of the business model: NOTE: Not *all* the tickets will cost 20p. In fact, probably relatively few. As the article says, you could actually pay 5 pounds, which is more than my local cinema charges now. Sure, the tickets will be on average cheaper but this 20p thing is clearly an advertising gimmick. And as such it seems to be working so far.

    I wonder how succesful this will be. Flying, if the experience as a whole is reduced in quality is fine; its a functional activity getting from A-to-B. (EasyJet=no "free" inflight snack or drink, no "free" papers, the crews do the cleaning etc, you are herded on, you are herder off) You don't fly for the sake of it. Going to the cinema on the otherhand is about more than the film itself. Depending on how far corners are cut (maintenance, technical specs of equipment, cleanliness etc.) it might be a bit unappealing as something you might do for the sake of it.

    Personally I welcome this if only because I can grandly goto a more expensive cinema round the corner and be able to watch in peace without rowdy teenagers annoying me. All for a few extra quid. Seems like a bargain to me. Everyone will be happy :-P
  • by drix (4602) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @08:59AM (#6030369) Homepage
    I am a foreign student currently studying abroad in Europe, meaning that probably I represent one of easy*'s biggest demographics. I (and all my friends) almost always fly easyJet [easyjet.com] to travel, we rent easyCar [easycar.com] to drive to France or Andorra, and we check our e-mail abroad at easyInternetCafe [easyinternetcafe.com]. easy is the real thing--it's cheap as hell, especially if you book really early. On the other hand the "customer experience" leaves a lot to be desired. For example, in an effort to cut costs even further, easyInternetCafe literally fired all their employees except for about 15 at the home office. No actual easyInternetCafe employees, work in the easyInternetCafes. Which is at once dumbfounding and frustrating. If your computer crashes or the machine eats your money when you try to buy time, well, you're fucked. No recourse. Lots of the computers are broken, people leave their trash laying around, there are always wierdos looking at really sick, graphic porn, and worse, the cafes are unsafe. Twice now I have seen people brazenly mugged, in broad daylight, in nearly packed easyInternetCafes. Similar experiences on easyJet; they farmed out the personnel contract (at least here in Spain) to some company named EuroHandling, whose ticket agents are assholes and unwilling to help you out in any way, especially if you arrive after 40 minutes before departure time. So I'm a little skeptical of easyCinema, even though I'd probably give it a whirl if it came to a town near me. But sentences like "All we ask is that you don't leave any litter behind" [easycinema.com] sounds like a sweet way of saying, "we're not paying for janitors, please don't trash our theaters." Personally, I'll gladly pay the extra 2 to avoid sitting on someone else's half-eaten nachos, but hey, that's me.
  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @11:09AM (#6030705)
    I am not the type to watch a movie in the first couple of weeks, so when I do get around to seeing one, the place is usually over 60% empty, sometimes even 90%. Dynamic pricing would allow them to fill seats when movies are no longer "hot", while still charging a fairly high price for first-week blockbusters.

    It really makes no sense that all movies at a given cinema are for the same price, whether it is an opening day blockbuster or a mediocre film in its last week. It is nothing but price-fixing by the motion picture cartels that causes ticket prices to defy the laws of supply and demand.

    This one guy's mistake is that he could increase his profits by selling popcorn and other food and beverages, given that the lower ticket prices would increase the number of people and the amount they are willing to spend on refreshments. Concession stands are profit centers, not costs to be minimized.

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