Hiking up ticket prices will lead consumers to theater alternatives

The days that grandparents talk about when movie tickets cost only a nickel, are long gone. Today, ticket prices starting at $6 for students are more common. So why are movie prices still on the rise?

According to CNN, ticket prices rose 23 percent in the last five years while inflation in those years was an average of “just 2.5 percent annually over the past 5 years and just 1.2 percent over the past year.” Ticket prices are therefore not rising at a proportional pace.

One argument raised by the movie industry is that the industry is losing money through movie piracy. As some students may very well know, entire movies — of good quality — are now available for download on the Internet within days of the movie’s opening in theaters — and, in some cases, even before.

But if this argument holds true, then the prices are being raised too much, even if such “losses” are figured in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie industry made “$10.85 billion last year” worldwide, “a 5 percent increase over the previous year.” So if they made more than the year before, why are prices raised?

Like the Recording Industry Association of America’s argument that CD sales are down because of rampant piracy, this seems almost too easy an answer to hold true.

Last year didn’t just bring movie audiences critically acclaimed movies. It saw the release of such box office bombs as the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez vehicle Gigli (rated the 15th worst movie ever made on the Internet Movie Database), as well as clunkers such as the American Idol tie-in From Justin to Kelly (rated the 6th worst movie ever on IMDB.com).

While the quantity of movies does not seem to be going down, something can be said about originality and quality.

If the increase of DVD sales are an indication, more and more people are opting out of the theaters altogether and would rather wait for the DVD release to watch the movie at home.

To simply jack up the price of a movie ticket when sales are seemingly down a la the RIAA cannot be the answer.