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Some movie lovers aren't happy about AMC's plan to charge according to seat placement

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Almost nobody likes to sit in the front row of a movie theater, and AMC knows it. The cinema chain plans to roll out a new pricing structure. Those willing to crane their necks will get a discount. And, yes, the better seats will cost more, as NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Sightline at AMC is the name of this new pricing scheme.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "80 FOR BRADY")

LILY TOMLIN: (As Lou) It's just a reveal.

SALLY FIELD: (As Betty) Of what?

BLAIR: Of what isn't exactly clear. AMC hasn't said how much tickets will cost, but the prices will be broken down by section - value, standard and preferred. The cost of your ticket will depend on the quality of your seat.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Treat them as our brothers and sisters.

BLAIR: Treating all consumers equally is not what this is about, as far as actor Elijah Wood is concerned. On social media, he complained that a movie theater is a, quote, "democratic space" and that AMC's new pricing would penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: It may cause a little consternation with a lot of consumers who are very price-sensitive.

BLAIR: Paul Dergarabedian is a senior media analyst with Comscore. The movie industry suffered during the pandemic. It's on the rebound but hasn't fully recovered.

DERGARABEDIAN: I mean, it seems like a time where it would be best just to let it ride and keep traditional pricing because now we're getting more back to, quote-unquote, "normal" box office.

BLAIR: On the other hand, he says there are a lot of big movies coming out soon.

DERGARABEDIAN: "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One," "Indiana Jones 5," "Barbie," "Wonka." I mean, there's - I could go on and on. So there's a really strong slate of films set for 2023. And AMC may feel like, look. We're going to have a great lineup here for you, so we can get creative with the ticket pricing structure.

BLAIR: It helps that AMC is the largest theater chain in the U.S. AMC did not respond to a request for comment. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.
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