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Young moviegoers more likely to pay more for good seats: Survey

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Group of cheerful people laughing while watching movie in cinema.

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Young moviegoers don’t mind paying extra fees to see films on the big screen, if it means they get to sit in the best seats in the house, a new survey says.

The survey, from Morning Consult, found that 54% of Gen Z ticket buyers and 46% of millennials found dynamic pricing, a strategy seen in the concert space that charges more for the most desirable seats in a venue, “appropriate” at movie theater chains.

Only 32% of Gen X respondents and 22% of baby boomers felt the same, according to the survey, which was conducted last week. Morning Consult polled more than 2,200 U.S. adults.

The report comes nearly two months after AMC Entertainment announced its plans to introduce “Sightline at AMC,” which will eliminate the one-price-fits-all approach to selling tickets. For example, moviegoers who want to sit in the middle of the auditorium would pay a few dollars more and those who choose the front row would pay a few dollars less.

The initiative, which faced initial backlash from consumers, is expected to roll out nationwide by the end of the year.

Representatives from AMC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“Our data is showing that more than half of Americans have skepticism towards seat-based pricing,” said Saleah Blancaflor, media and entertainment reporter at Morning Consult. “But it also shows that younger generations, such as Gen Zers and millennials, are interested in heading to the theaters regardless of if they have to pay a few extra dollars to get those better seats.”

Blancaflor said these younger consumers are “extremely eager” about the entertainment they consume and are the ones buying the majority of concert tickets, which also have dynamic pricing. In both generations, more than 50% of respondents said they’d be willing to pay a few extra dollars for preferred seats.

Meanwhile, only 36% of Gen X and 25% of baby boomers said they would be willing to pay extra.

However, she noted that while the data could give other cinema chains confidence in altering their pricing, these younger generations do have financial concerns and may balk if it becomes the norm. She also said that movie theaters shouldn’t disregard older generations, who have returned to cinemas in the wake of the pandemic for films such as “A Man Called Otto” and “80 for Brady.”

“While catering towards younger generations is important to the future of moviegoing, they also shouldn’t completely ignore the older generations,” Blancaflor said. “Because they could be missing out on people in those groups that still have an interest in going to theaters but might not be open to these newer initiatives that might be unfamiliar to them.”

Already, cinema chains such as Alamo Drafthouse have said they do not plan to implement dynamic pricing in their theaters.

“We could put more rows in our theaters and we don’t,” Shelli Taylor, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, told CNBC last month. “We purposely sit in every single chair and we look for the most optimal sightlines. So, our front rows are awesome; there’s no reason for us to discount them.”


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