Major theater chains turned everyone who saw The Batman into a clown

The Batman

The Batman
Photo: Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros.

Last week, AMC Theaters elicited a lot of offended gasps from movie fans after CEO Adam Aron announced that the company would be jacking up ticket prices for The Batmansomething he explained was perfectly normal in “European theaters” (ooh la la) and is already commonplace in America for sporting events, concerts, and live theater anyway (because buying sports tickets, concert tickets, and theater tickets is always painless, right ?). “How could he do this?” we shouted, our sensitive little hearts appalled by the level of greed on display. “Doesn’t he realize that’s an extremely short-sighted way to make money, and that it indicates that he has very little regard, if any, for his customers?”

Well, the joke’s on all of us, apparently, because The Batman made a whole lot of money this weekend, and an atypically big chunk of that came from AMC. As the company boasted today (via The Hollywood Reporter), its theaters accounted for 29 percent of The Batman‘s market share, which is more than normal (though we don’t know how much more), and eight of the top 10 highest-grossing theaters in the country this past weekend were AMC-owned.

Basically, AMC’s little experiment to see if people would notice or care that they were paying as much $1.50 extra for no reason worked out exactly the way the company wanted. But wait, because there’s an even more insidious angle to this scheme: THR also says that Cinemark and Regal Cinemas, the other two biggest chains, also jacked up their The Batman ticket prices. They just did it without telling anyone! Oh, and they also did it for Spider-Man: No Way Homeand nobody noticed or cared!

Congratulations to everybody who was excited to get back to movie theaters after the pandemic: You’re a chump! You thought Nicole Kidman cared about the “magic” of theaters? She just wanted your money! She’s swimming in a big pool of it like Scrooge McDuck right now!

But movie theaters raising prices is not new, and it’s not the most offensive thing here. That would be the fact that it’s AMC running this game—and Aron’s utter glee over its success. In a statement, he claimed that this past weekend was the “third biggest weekend for AMC in more than two full years,” as if we’re not talking about the same AMC that had to admit in December of 2020 that it wouldn’t survive for another month. The same AMC that only still exists today because it was able to get some last-minute cash on the assumption that people would someday want to go back to the theaters. And how is it thanking the people who are going back? By charging them more money.

Then again, at least AMC is doing it to your face. What Cinemark and Regal did is probably worse, but we haven’t been following every move their CEOs made for the last two years out of an abundance of concern and affection for the existence of movie theaters. That’s on us, though. We should’ve assumed that a CEO would do what CEOs do: Increase profits as much as possible, even if it means taking advantage of people and making the experience for customers worse and worse.

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