Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Let’s talk about cinemas, ticket pricing and also Scotland Loves Anime

I love going to the cinema. If I get the chance to go see a film I love on the big screen, even if I’ve already seen it before at home, I’ll try to do it. It’s a shame that it’s getting particularly money-grabby and pricing it way out of the pockets of some. But anyway, let’s talk.

So first of all, as I said at the start, I love going to the cinema. The number one reason I go, apart from the improved picture and audio quality and size, is the fact that you can share the experience of watching the film with other people who, most notably, are typically there because they want to watch the film too. While there are of course exceptions where people have been dragged along by their mates and end up talking through the film, or spend most of it on their phone because they have nothing better to do, the vast majority are there because they want to see the film in the best possible way. I have witnessed occasions where people have been ejected from the cinema by other audience members for messing on their phone or talking a lot, so there’s definitely some passionate people out there. But the number one moment for me was going to see the Love Live movie in Scotland. People came from all over the UK and beyond to see that film and filled out the cinema. Throughout the film, everyone reacted in a variety of different ways to scenes in the film, but they all meshed together to create an incredible atmosphere that I don’t think will ever be recreated for that film again, especially not at home on a TV.

I also get to concentrate on the film, without getting distracted by Twitter, etc. I can’t begin to explain how often I start watching an episode of a TV series, let alone a film, and it takes me an hour or two to watch one 24 minute episode because I keep pausing it, flicking over to Twitter with a thought or a screenshot, etc.

For both of these, I make the yearly trip to the “Scotland Loves Anime” festival in either Glasgow or Edinburgh to watch a bunch of films with people who are into anime and want to experience films that they’re interested in seeing too. I typically see upwards of 6 films, though I have been for the whole week before now and seen 10 or so across the week.

A complaint I heard about the films at “Scotland Loves Anime” I have heard is that the films all have advert and trailer reels at the start, and that other film festivals they have been to didn’t have them. Well, I don’t know what film festivals they’ve been to, but the tickets at SLA are fairly cheap for cinema tickets, plus discounts for buying multiple in the festival. Then you have the fact that these films probably cost a fair amount to get from Japan for theatrical release at all, and I can’t really blame them for wanting to subsidize the cost somewhat. To be quite honest with you, the adverts at SLA have become somewhat of a running joke with the people I talk to. As we see the same ones so often across multiple films, we make jokes about some of the particularly bad ones, and even got a standing ovation for the final screening of one particular advert one year (looking at you Kevin Bacon) because we were so glad to never see it again.

One complaint I will accept about SLA is the timing of the films. If you are watching almost everything like I usually do, and I know some others do too, you don’t really have much time in-between films in the evening to have a meal. I have known people to bring in a pizza into the film screening before now!

So I mentioned pricing. Let me talk to you about the price structure at major cinemas.

I went to see Deadpool on the weekend of release, on a Saturday, at the Liverpool One Odeon. Here’s the price breakdown:
Base ticket price for an adult at peak time: £10
IMAX: £5
“Premier Seat” (aka not awful seat and good view): £1.80
BLOCKBUSTER PRICE (charged because they feel like it): £1
Total: £17.80

Most important to note here is the fact that there’s an extra charge for wanting to see a film near release. This was applied all week. The seats at Odeon are particularly bad, so paying extra for a good seat, plus wanting a good view, means you have to drop that £1.80 as well to be honest.

When you add on a drink or a snack (unless you manage to sneak in some of your own stuff, which I highly recommend doing by the way) it gets north of £20. So here’s where Odeon’s pricing gets even more complicated:

We paid £25.75 each for our tickets to Deadpool.

So Odeon have a thing called “The Gallery” at some of their cinemas. Base ticket price for this is £20.25 at peak times, plus £5 for IMAX plus 50p because I don’t know (maybe a discounted blockbuster ticket? I have genuinely no idea where that 50p comes from). This gets you access to a lounge with unlimited soft drinks, nachos and popcorn (all self-serve, so grab whatever you want), a bar where you can buy alcoholic drinks and massive seats with a direct view of the screen and a little table on the armrest to put your popcorn/nachos/etc. For the IMAX screen, you were on a balcony above everyone else facing dead-centre of the screen. For an extra £8, it’s only really worth it if all of the above matter to you. If you don’t eat lunch and really like nachos and popcorn, well this will probably work out for you haha! I wouldn’t bother doing this for any films, but if it’s a super long one, then it will probably help to have access to the drinks and comfy seats, plus there’s also a toilet right outside the doors to the screens, so you can be in and out without missing much of the film at all.

Back to the point I originally wanted to make in that it’s really complicated buying tickets for films. It’s like RyanAir, charging for everything they can get away with. If you didn’t go IMAX, for example, there’s D-Box (the chair moves and vibrates, etc for £3.55), 3D film (+£2) and 3D glasses (+£1).

Odeon just launched a pay monthly and watch unlimited 2D films package nationwide. Still have to pay extra for premier seats, IMAX and The Lounge, but it makes things a lot easier. Cineworld have had an unlimited card for years and gets you a discount on food and drink, but Odeon have way more cinemas to choose from. Will have to see how things pan out, as both require a 12 month minimum contract.

This has been a very rambly blog post. Apart from cinema ticket pricing being super complicated, I don't think I really had a point to make haha! See ya.