AMC Theater Chain to Stop Charging for Better Seats

AMC has abandoned plans to charge extra for movie seats based on location. But the price increases for middle-middle seats in theaters where AMC is testing the concept will continue this weekend, when “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are expected to draw sizable crowds.

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater chain, announced Thursday that it is “turning around” from a controversial initiative called Sightline. Sightline has three tiers of pricing for seats at nightly screenings, ending the long-standing movie theater practice of charging the same amount. any seat in the theater. (We were offered a $1-$2 discount for the front row of heads, a $1-$2 increase for the middle-middle row, and the rest remained the same.)

The concept opened in theaters in New York, Illinois, and Kansas in March, sparking outcry from some moviegoers. AMC always labeled it a test.

An AMC spokesperson said the experiment is expected to end in August. But the company plans to start a new experiment targeting front-row seats, which are often left unsold. Later this year, AMC announced it would be removing the traditional front row seats and replacing them with “large, comfortable lounge-style seating areas that allow guests to lie all the way back.”

After steadily increasing concession prices, AMC and other theater chains are beginning to focus more on seating to boost revenue. For example, multiplexes are increasingly offering their customers premium-priced tickets for screenings with extra-large screens and enhanced sound systems.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that attendance figures have yet to recover from the early days of the pandemic, when many theaters were closed for months. So far this year, ticket sales have lagged about 20% compared to the same period in 2019.

AMC said Sightline did not perform as well as expected. Specifically, the company said, “Despite applying price cuts to front row seats, there was little or no increase in front row attendance.” About three out of every four customers who used to sit in the middle-middle seat paid extra to stay seated, according to AMC. Some of them moved to other seats. A few people stopped buying tickets at his AMC.

Notably, competitors did not follow AMC’s seat price changes, making the company less competitive in the test market.

AMC’s plans to scrap the initiative were earlier reported by Bloomberg News.

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