3D movie tickets set for epic price hike

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ticket prices will be going up at movie theaters across the country this weekend as the entertainment industry looks to cash in on growing demand for 3-D movies following the success of "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland."

Starting Friday, prices for adult admission to 3-D movies will increase an average 8.3% at box offices nationwide, according to market research conducted by investment firm BTIG. Ticket prices for IMAX movies are expected to jump 10%, while prices for regular 2-D movies will rise about 4% on average.

The price increases vary by region and will be in effect at theater chains operated by AMC Entertainment Inc., Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) and others.

At one AMC theater in New York, the price for a family of four to see a 3-D screening of Dreamworks Animation's "How to Train your Dragon" this Friday will be $63 before popcorn, soda or candy.

Adult ticket prices for 3-D movies will jump to $15.50 from $13.50 at one theater operated by AMC near Boston. At a Regal theater in Seattle, 3-D ticket prices will rise to $15 from $13.50 for adult admission.

A spokesman from AMC declined to comment, and Regal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"These are major prices changes for an industry that has historically instituted gradual prices increases," said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield.

Greenfield said the price hikes reflect a growing belief among theater owners that consumers are "hungry" for 3-D content and are willing to pay more for an enhanced movie-going experience.

Box office sales nationwide are up nearly 10% so far this year, due in part to the record-breaking success of 3-D blockbusters like "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland."

James Cameron's "Avatar" became the highest grossing movie ever, bringing in over $2.5 billion, after it concluded an extraordinary 3-month run in March. "Alice" brought in a record $116.3 million when it opened earlier this month.

With numbers like that, expectations are high for a host of other 3-D films due out this year, including Warner Brothers' "Clash of the Titans," which comes out next month. (Warner Bros. is owned by Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500), the parent of CNNMoney.com).

However, some industry analysts warn that the price hikes could spark a backlash among consumers still struggling in the weak economy.

"They're probably over estimating the appeal of 3-D," said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo, a Web site that tracks ticket sales. "It's more of an industry push than an audience push, at least currently."

Gray warned that 3-D technology has come and gone in one form or another over the last five decades, and the current popularly could prove to be nothing more than another fad. Much of the success or failure of this year's 3-D fare will depend on the quality of the story, he added.

Still, the stakes for the industry are high and it's possible that 3-D could pay off if the films resonate with audiences.

"If consumers absorb the price increases without issue, we believe it bodes well for the pricing power of the movie exhibition industry, particularly their highest quality product," Greenfield said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,131.97 100.83 0.59%
Nasdaq 4,552.76 33.86 0.75%
S&P 500 1,998.98 14.85 0.75%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.00 -0.08%
Data as of 5:50pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 100.86 -0.77 -0.76%
Bank of America Corp... 16.71 -0.03 -0.18%
Yahoo! Inc 42.71 0.16 0.38%
Alcoa Inc 16.16 -0.23 -1.40%
Facebook Inc 76.08 1.50 2.01%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL's biggest sponsors, says it is disappointed with how the league has handled recent controversies. More

Scotland's independence vote is too close to call but those who want to keep Britain united won this year's campaign funding race by some distance. More

The FBI's new facial recognition system lets local police easily identify you. It will one day spot you from your iris, voice and the way you walk. More

Y Combinator president Sam Altman is teaching a startup class at Stanford with Silicon Valley heavy hitters as guest lecturers. Bonus: All the videos will be available for free online. More

What do all 401K millionaires have in common? Christine Romans explains what it takes to be a member of the club. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.