US ticket prices rise while audience figures drop – What should be done?

Ticket.jpgAccording to the Guardian today, US movie ticket prices rose (as if you needed me to tell you that) while the audience figures dropped throughout 2004.

Higher ticket prices were expected to push takings up to a record $9.4bn (£4.8bn), beating the previous record of $9.32bn in 2002.

However, box office experts Exhibitor Relations said they expected a 2.5% dip in the number of tickets sold from 2003’s 1.54bn admissions.

Time for a change perchance? No such luck, let’s bleed ’em dry seems to be the attitude.

“I don’t think it’s time to panic yet,” Jim Tharp, head of distribution at DreamWorks, told the Associate Press. “It would take another couple of years of this trend for it to be something of concern.”

Either that or they are just incredibly slow learners. What is interesting though is what accounted for the money coming in, five movies are responsible for a nearly a sixth of the project Hollywood revenues. Chew over that fact for a moment or two, that’s quite amazing. They were:

Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2, The Passion Of The Christ, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and The Incredibles

The figures don’t look good, but it looks like the execs are going to take a good two years of this continuing trend before they even think of doing something.

This is just poor business sense, they’ve dropped for a reason, find out the why people don’t want to go to the cinema anymore and attract them back in, oh and don’t try that piracy line again the drop in admission doesn’t correlate with the connection rates to the Internet.

Actually, looking at it another way, it’s excellent business sense. There is a captive marketplace and there is still healthy turnover, whether it’s down on last year or not. So just keep going until the profit edges towards being average and then drop prices, start feeding the marketplace again and pull back the profits.

Am I as cynical as John? Don’t answer that one. Instead of debating whether they are right or wrong to do this, let’s try something else. What can the movie industry do to change? If you were sitting in front of a board table of all the Studio Execs and they were looking to you for a way forward, what would you do?

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