Saturday, December 6, 2014

The $20 threshold has been crossed

I've paid $20 to go to the movies before.

The first time it happened was nearly five years ago -- has it been that long? -- when we watched Avatar in IMAX 3D on one of the world's largest screens in Sydney, on what was then merely a vacation in Australia. I believe two tickets to that show came out to around $52, when various surcharges and upcharges were factored in.

In fact, just a month ago I paid more than $20 to see Interstellar, but that was on some kind of "big" screen (they are toying around here with upcharges on "big" screens, known as Xtreme screens) so I didn't really blink at it.

However, not until Friday night did I pay $20 for a straight-up, no-frills, regular-admission evening ticket.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was the movie, and the Hoyts at Hightpoint Shopping Centre was the venue.

I gave them a fifty, and I got thirty in change.

Now, when I was in the U.S. last month, I regularly regaled people with the whimsical tidbit that it costs $19 to go to the movies in Australia. I didn't round up to $20, because somehow the accurate price of $19 seemed more descriptive for the point I was trying to make. If I had just said "It costs twenty bucks to go to the movies," they might have thought I was just throwing out an exaggerated number, or factoring in other movie-related expenses like parking and popcorn. By saying $19 -- the standard ticket price at Cinema Nova in Carlton -- I was quite clearly delivering an exact ticket face value.

But as it turns out, $20 would have been more accurate.

Not sure how long ago this absurd price point was breached, because I almost never pay full price for movie tickets. I usually make sure to go to cheap movie night at Nova or Cinema Kino on Monday ($9) or Hoyts on Tuesday ($13). Every other time of the week has been deemed far less than optimal for a movie outing.

But on Friday night I had Christmas shopping to do at what I call "the night mall" -- Highpoint is only open as late as 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays -- so it was a given that I would combine that trip with a movie at the Hoyts, especially since the theater stays open well past when the rest of the mall closes.

In fact, I mightn't have recognized the increase to a leading 2 on the price last night either, as I originally intended to take in an 8:50 show (against my better judgment) of Exodus: Gods and Kings. I was going to make it my first 3D movie since, I believe, Gravity, so I would have shelled out the $24 or $25 (against my better judgment) without noticing it, not bothering to be sure the exact price of a 3D up-sell. I'd have swallowed hard, I'm sure, but I wouldn't have necessarily noticed that a price Rubicon had been irrevocably crossed.

But my shopping occupied me for longer than that, so the 9:20 Hunger Games was my better option. And it awakened me to that realization that pricing has crossed another milestone of ridiculousness.

Well, no matter. This time of year, when finalizing my year-end rankings is little more than a month off, I'll (somewhat) gladly pay an additional premium to cram in some movies that won't make it to DVD in time for me to see them that way.

After all, there are only so many Mondays and Tuesdays between now and January 15th.

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