Rival chain Landmark is adding recliners to theatres at no additional cost for movie goers.
Read in 1 minute
Competition does funny things to companies. Often, it makes them lower prices.
It’s happening in the case of Cineplex and its VIP cinemas – or at least it is in one specific location so far.
Here’s what Cineplex’s regular pricing looks like at its Queensway VIP theatre in Toronto, for example:
Most of the company’s other 15 VIP theatres across Canada have similar $20-and-up prices, although here’s Westmount Cinemas in London, Ont.:
Why the discount of more than 50 per cent?
It seems Cineplex – which has about 80 per cent of the Canadian movie theatre market by revenue – has some competition in London.
The city is one of the few in Canada where Cineplex has overlap with Landmark Cinemas. The Calgary-based chain, which has 45 theatres across the country to Toronto-based Cineplex’s 163, is the second-biggest movie exhibitor, with 10 per cent of the market.
While Cineplex was first with the VIP experience, which includes comfy recliner chairs, in-seat service and alcohol, Landmark is catching up. The company is eschewing seat service and booze, but it is installing recliners.
Most importantly, Landmark isn’t charging movie-goers extra for it. At the London location, general admission – with the better seats – is $10.99. Landmark is also adding recliners to its locations in Calgary and Hamilton, Ont.
“It undermines the whole value of what they’re doing,” says Landmark chief operating officer Bill Walker of his company’s rival.
A spokesperson for Cineplex says the company cut its London VIP pricing in September. Ticket prices depend on a variety of factors including theatre location, local wage rates, real estate, operating costs and local taxes.
“We have never applied a one-size-fits-all solution as we look at each theatre on an individual basis as it relates to pricing, programming and staffing,” the spokesperson said.
Landmark is also partnering with Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup Atom Tickets to deliver a mobile app that lets movie goers order popcorn and drinks on their phones, to be picked up at a dedicated kiosk at theatres.
The app, which is now live across the chain, also boasts social features for organizing group movie outings. Landmark and Atom also plan to test variable pricing, where tickets during low-demand times might be sold at a discount, later this year.
Cineplex had an eventful 2015. The company shrunk the size of its drink cups but kept prices the same and devalued its Scene loyalty program, effectively doubling the number of points required to buy a VIP ticket.
Cineplex also attempted to shrink popcorn sizes for VIP guests while keeping prices the same, but quickly fixed the “communications error” after the change was discovered.