Ah, the glory of working at a movie theater. Nothing sticks out in my mind more than the rare times that I would be asked to work at the box office. And inevitably, the question would come up with every few people, "Did the prices go up?" or "This is ridiculous. Way too much." (As they'd hand over their card, as well.) Sometimes the prices had, sometimes they hadn't. Yet, they continued to purchase tickets.
Eventually, though, people stop. Despite the perceived quality of movies being better in 2008 in comparison to 2007, movie attendance is still down 5% according to the Associated Press. But ticket prices continue to rise. What seems to be happening is studios, and by extension individual theaters, are raising prices, and knocking more people out of the ability to see movies. Revenues are similar year-to-year, but attendance is down. Could it be that these rising prices are pricing people out of movies in general? Could it be possible that by keeping prices relatively static, that you would in effect have MORE people coming to see movies? I don't know the answer to that, but if it were me, and I was running the studio, I'd probably want more people to see my movie and have more potential from that customer in the long term, than to get them the one time they go out.
Arguments made when the complaint of expensive movie tickets are brought up over how much more of a value going to the movies is as opposed to going to a sporting event or a concert. Well, yeah, obviously. When you go to a sporting event, whether basketball or baseball or football, whatever, every game is going to be unique. There will never be two games that will be played out in exactly the same way. They are playing live in front of your face. This is an experience that cannot be replicated. Therefore, the barrier to entry is going to be much more expensive.
Movies on the other hand are unique in their own right. They can inspire, elicit emotional reactions, excite, entertain, all of that. But you can replay those effects over and over again. A movie, while often times a dynamic experience, is a static form of entertainment. No matter how many times you go see The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader will always admit to being Luke's father. So of course movies need to be much cheaper. The great thing is that it allows you to see movies again and again. There's always something new to be seen.
And let's not forget the potential of having a ruined experience. Loud patrons, kids running around, poor presentation can all bring something a feeling of rushed excitement to a screeching halt. All things that need to be looked at in the future.
Sure, home theaters, surround sound systems, and high definition televisions are getting closer to recreating that silver screen adventure, but they aren't quite there yet and probably never will be. Nothing compares to having your entire vision engulfed to the point where you find yourself fully immersed in this world placed in front of you.
While movies will probably still continue to go up, along with their delicious counterparts at the concession stand, I hold out hope that one day they will slow up their expedient rises and bring people back to the theater where they can best experience a movie.