/ Travel & Leisure

Do cinema ticket prices ruin your film-going experience?

A row of red seats in a cinema

Are you put off going to the cinema due to the cost? Elicka is. She’s a student currently doing work experience at Which? – read why she won’t be watching the latest release on the silver screen.

I’ve always loved going to the cinema. It’s the perfect place to escape for a few hours, relax and watch Vin Diesel in yet another car race.

That’s why I’m gutted I can’t afford to go anymore. Why? For me, the tickets are far too expensive.

Prices have rocketed so much in the past few years. A few years ago I could purchase a ticket at my local cinema for £5.50, but now I have to grit my teeth, smile and hand over £10.79. All the while I’ll be trying to dismiss the thought I’ll be able to download the film or buy the DVD for the same price six months later.

The cost of going to the cinema

When my friends and I used to chat about what to do together at the weekend, someone would always suggest going to the cinema. Easy, enjoyable, and affordable; we could purchase the ticket with whatever money we’d earned that week and still have spare change for snacks. Now, going to the cinema is something that’s only mumbled with guilty reluctance. And recent stats show we’re not alone in this either.

Figures from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association in 2014 showed that ticket prices have risen by 26% in the past seven years, and even now they continue to creep higher and higher. I know that my own family goes less often because of this, so I’m sure many others have also learned to think twice before proposing an evening out.

We might approach a Leicester Square cinema with excitement and enthusiasm, but that soon turns to a dazed look when we see the £55 receipt for two adults and two children. And remember, this is the receipt before you’ve bought popcorn and ice cream (don’t think your kids will let you go without!).

At the end of the day, I have to wonder whether it’s really worth it. Going to see the latest Fast and Furious release represents a huge chunk of my money, but just 137 minutes of entertainment.

Have higher ticket prices meant you’ve made fewer trips to the cinema? Do you think the joy of going to the cinema is actually worth the cost? Personally, I think I’d rather just wait for the DVD release.

This is a guest post by , student and currently doing work experience at Which?

Comments
Member

Its worth remembering that the film distributor takes about 40% of the ticket price – it doesnt all go the cinema !

Member
Lynn says:
16 April 2015

Yes and just think those poor millionaire actors really need the money, lol.

Member

Last time I went to the cinema was something like 15 years. I took my daughter and we saw 2 films. I can still remember thinking I’ve got better sound on my TV at home, I haven’t been back since.

And no I don’t miss the people talking/eating or generally not actually watching the film.

A bluray and a pizza all washed down with a nice cup of tea wins every time for me. With the added bonus of being able to switch on subtitles or pause/ rewind it should the need arise.

Member

Hi Elicka, It’s certainly bothered me in the past – The prices are extortionate! I’ve thought about registering to one of those cinema memberships where you can go whenever, for like £15 per month…but can I really justify the monthly cost and make the most use from it…

Member
Martyn says:
16 April 2015

The price was annoying but as i was using the “Orange Wednesday” option and splitting it between 2 people it wasn’t too bad. now that Orange Wednesday has been discontinued i will not be going as often

Member
Gillian Reid says:
16 April 2015

Compare the Meercat deal is good and apparently a single trip GB travel insurance can be had for less than £2 so you can buy one get one free same as Orange Wednesday 🙂

Member

They may well removing the travel insurance as a way to get the offer, since its now been very well publicised

Member
Marcia K says:
16 April 2015

Our local Welwyn Garden City cinema is much more affordable than the larger chains, although we do have to pay for parking. I look out for special offers and sometimes get free tickets to preview screenings from ShowFilmFirst. I don’t buy popcorn, sweets or drinks at the cinema’s extortionate prices either!

Member

I used to go to the cinema quite a lot but not anymore. This is indeed because of the ticket price, but also like William says because of people talking and generally not watching the film. Last time I went someone had their smartphone on throughout and the light was very bright and distracted from the screen! They obviously could afford to waste money. Now unless I think a film is extra special and worth paying £10+ for, I’ll simply wait until it comes on the telly.

When it does come on the telly, the add-on is that I can check the Radio times and see what they think of it and decide if I want to give it a go or not. I used to watch Barry Norman, whose opinion I trusted and who was my guide to cinema releases, in Film [year] assiduously for years until he moved to Sky. (I still enjoy reading his critiques in the Radio Times) For a start he appeared to always be more interested in the subject than in himself, which I don’t believe is the case with the people who followed in his footsteps on BBC. But that’s another subject.

Member

Agreed – it’s far too expensive, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been in the last few years.

It’s frustrating though that every now and then they’ll be a film I simply have to see. For example, I can’t wait for Jurassic World – I definitely want to see it as soon as possible, but I’ll have no choice but to pay the extortionate ticket price + getting there + food and drink as there are no alternatives.

I’ve also found that there are plenty of cinema offers to accommodate children, students and families – none of which helps me at all.

Member

But look at ticket prices for the theatre, a classical music concert, a pop concert, football, ………They are all extremely expensive and for many people out of reach or simply a treat.

I haven’t been to the cinema for years, mainly because the sort of films they churn outr – sex, violence, computer animation, outlandish special effects – don’t generally appeal to my sense of entertainment. I’d much rather watch a proper film, like “Some like it hot”, “The money pit”, Those magnificent men in their flying machines” and the early james Bond. What a stick-in-the-mud 🙂 But I’ve got these on DVD.

Both my son’s have produced “cinema rooms” with big screens and a computer projector. 3D and surround sound on tap for an investment of just a few hundred pounds. And cheap snacks and drinks!

Member

I went to a cinema in Central London, which I thought was cheaper, but they’d just put the prices up to £15 a ticket. The woman serving us literally apologised as she said the price.

Member

There are lots of pleasures in life that are unaffordable but at least with films curbing impatience saves a lot of money and you get to see it within a reasonable time of release.

Member
Dave E. says:
16 April 2015

Considering that most cinema staff are on zero contracts and minimum wage the cost of a ticket is outrageous.

Member
Lynn says:
16 April 2015

I don’t go very often, partly due to costings and partly due to the fact I am old enough now to have seen the original films they are now all copying. I must time my visits better than most of you because usually there are very few people there. Usually I think watching a film on a big screen is so much better than a tv screen. Going of topic slightly my main objection is the widening of the rich and poor of society, the millions that some actors are paid for not a huge amount of work is obscene in my view.

Member

While I think it’s expensive to go to the cinema, I don’t really have any issues with paying. I’m a big fan of films and feel that the £11.50 (cost at my local cinema) is well worth the 2 or so hours of entertainment – especially when you consider how much work goes into a great film. I’d prefer to pay a bit more than to see cinemas disappear altogether!

Member

Worth looking for an independant cinema , our local independant one charges £5.50 to £6.50 with usual discounts and even a family ticket.

Member
Alison says:
16 April 2015

Utterly ridiculous price nowadays. Over £10 for a standard ticket nearer £15 for 3d or IMAX… I don’t go unless I’ve got a bogof or cheap ticket somehow. Now orange Wednesday has stopped it’ll happen even less often.

Member
Brian O'Connor (The real one). says:
16 April 2015

And people wonder why bootleg dvds and illegal downloading are rife.

Member
Brian O'Connor (The real one). says:
16 April 2015

P.S. Unless you’re a tennager, if you pay to see ‘fast & furious 17’ {or whatever}, you need your head boiled.

Member
Dalila says:
16 April 2015

Our Cinema in Wigan has a cheap night Tuesdays and an Orange wednesday on Tuesday its £3:95 plus a free ice cream before 8pm and wednesday is about same price. I think that is a reasonable price for an evenings entertainment. We can go to the Indian for about £8:50 and its take your own drink, then the cinema for £3:95, thats a total of £12:50 for a night out, what on earth is she complaining about, bet she spends more on a couple of drinks in the pub

Member
Brian O`Connor says:
17 April 2015

Great point re people`s priorities. As a teatotaller I was shocked to hear that you can pay up to £6.50 for a pint of beer here in London.

Member

Our local (provincial) cinema costs, for the cheapest seats, for a family £22-£26 and an OAP £5.60 – £6.60 depending whether a late afternoon or evening visit. Doesn’t seem too bad. Just avoid the popcorn, sweets and fizzy drinks (and you can’t take your own in).

Member

Why should I pay to watch a film and then have to sit through adverts? I occasionally get dragged around and there are people talking, playing with their phones and stuffing their faces with junk food. Not for me, thank you.

I go to orchestral concerts instead, and enjoy myself.

Member

…And they’re always the same adverts. Me and my friends feel like we fully know some of advert scripts. I do enjoy watching the trailers for upcoming films, though.

Member
Wendy Tully says:
17 April 2015

Definately so. Although we can get films from Sky movies, we still like the cinema. Unfortuanately I won’t pay extortionate prices for odeon or cineworld so won’t view movies there. Luckily found Connaught Cinema in Worthing, West Sussex. Works a treat and are regular customers.

Member

I sympathise with students who are finding it hard to afford to go to the cinema, because it’s an essential part of being a student and the cinemas would be empty without them; the film industry should not let this audience escape into the realms of the internet and TV. As others have said, though – it’s a question of priorities, and the smart phone contract seems to be more necessary than a good night out with some friends every week or so.

Cinema price increases haven’t seemed quite so steep as various other forms of entertainment – as Malcolm says, the cost of going to a live show of any sort has shot up into the stratosphere. We don’t go to the cinema that often but we saw “The Grand Budapest Hotel” about a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was an excellent night out for the money at the Odeon in Norwich – a modern and very well-managed multi-screen cinema with a range of other attractions, an alert and intelligent audience as well. The last film we saw was “The Imitation Game” a few months ago and we thought it was well worth the expense [can’t remember how much now]’ although the cinema [Odeon, High St Kensington, London] was a bit of a dingy dump and the audience didn’t seem to be as absorbed as we were, a common aspect of most experiences these days we find, but overall we enjoyed the evening out. Good films used to come along in threes followed by a long gap [school holidays – excuse for screening tosh]. Rather attracted to “A Little Chaos” but can’t say there’s much else that appeals right now or in prospect.

Member
Adam says:
18 April 2015

Our local cinema is £2.50 a ticket for standard, £3.50 a ticket for premium seats, and £1 more for both at weekends, and there are local shops nearby to get snacks for cheap, so that one is quite acceptable. However, we went to the Vue (Better times for us sometimes) and we ended up spending a whopping £45!! Jesus bloody christ, gotta save up for the Vue!

Member
Jan Schmit says:
19 April 2015

Last time we went to the cinema it was spoilt by people texting & talking on mobiles. They ignore the “please turn of your phone” requests – not been since!

Member

This happens in theatres and concert halls as well, sometimes during the performance. Since we don’t need to phone anybody when we’re going out for an evening’s entertainment we don’t have the mobile phones with us. No problems have arisen yet in twenty years of leaving our phones at home or in the car.

Member

Can’t remember the last time we went to a cinema, partly because there didn’t used to be one near us and we invested in our own “cinema” experience.

All the latest releases are on Sky eventually and we can watch them in comfort on our own big screen with surround sound and pause or rewind if we need to.

I don’t miss the uncomfortable seats, the head in front of me obscuring part of the screen, the feet behind kicking me, elbows to the side, the rustle of people eating food, and can only imagine the disturbance of mobiles.

Don’t think we will be going to the cinema again any time soon !!!

Member

A lot of independent cinemas in London have one ‘cheap night’ a week (usually Monday or Tuesday) where you can go for £6 or £7. The Picturehouse cinemas do this, as does my personal favourite, the Barbican. The Genesis in east London and Peckhamplex do full-price tickets for £8.50 and £5 respectively. And seeing a film at one of these indie cinemas is a much more pleasant experience than going to an Odeon, Vue or Cineworld.

There are ways to save with the chains too, though – Orange Wednesdays (or Meerkat Movies as I guess it is now), using Clubcard or Nectar points to buy tickets, or occasional bulk-buy deals where you buy several tickets at once and it works out to about £4 or £5 a ticket (these are quite often done through Groupon).

So there are deals to be had and I think they’re worth seeking out. I’ve only paid £10 or more for the cinema a couple of times in the last few years, while managing to see about 15 films a year. Don’t give up on the cinema!