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Watching 3-D in Imax: It will cost you

May 20, 2010 |  7:00 pm
Coming to a theater near you: higher ticket prices.

Yes, the price of admission is going up yet again.

And at least one industry analyst thinks theater owners may be going overboard as they seek to capitalize on the crush of 3-D films, especially those offered in Imax wide-screen format, which have become increasingly popular thanks to movies like "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland."

In a March 24 survey of 10 theaters nationwide, analyst Richard Greenfield of investment firm BTIG found that average ticket prices had jumped nearly 10% for Imax 3-D screenings and 8% for regular 3-D viewings. Friday, those same theaters will raise their Imax 3-D prices by an additional 2.3% for adults and 2.8% for children, Greenfield wrote in a follow-up survey.

He noted that at an AMC theater in New York the price of a 3-D movie ticket for DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek Forever After," which debuts this weekend, has climbed to a whopping $20, up from $16.50 in late March.

"Theater owners increasingly believe that consumers are so 'hungry' for 3-D content that they will not mind paying ever-higher prices and that for the best 3-D presentation (meaning Imax 3-D), even greater ticket price premiums are achievable,'' Greenfield wrote.

Indeed, the National Assn. of Theater Owners reported this month that the average ticket price in the first quarter of 2010 climbed 8% from the same period last year -- the largest such yearly increase since the association started tracking quarterly ticket price data in 2001.

"If the summer movie slate proves successful and consumers absorb the dramatic price increases, it is clearly positive for the movie exhibitors and for Imax," Greenfield said. "However, with the state of the economy remaining questionable, we worry pricing is simply moving up too quickly, especially kids' pricing, which is increasing at a faster rate than that of adult tickets."

-- Richard Verrier


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