Cineplex charges extra at some Star Wars screenings

Fans are getting a surprise twist at the box office with extra $1 charges for assigned seating

Cineplex Inc. is giving Star Wars fans a surprise twist at the box office by charging an extra dollar for assigned seating at some showings.

The country’s biggest exhibitor has tacked on a surcharge at select regular screenings of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” across Canada in hopes moviegoers will be willing to pay more for not waiting in line.

It’s a move the company says makes it convenient when a screening is sold out, which often leaves latecomers hunting for empty seats.

While reserved seating isn’t entirely new at Cineplex, the cost has usually been built into ticket prices for the company’s premium Imax, VIP and UltraAVX theatres. The exhibitor also experimented with charging an extra $2 for “prime seats” at the centre of a few of its busier theatres.

But it has not previously rolled out the concept at what it calls “regular” screenings — movies shown in traditional auditoriums without the additional costs associated with 3D or a larger screen.

With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” likely to be the biggest film of the year, Cineplex wanted to gauge how audiences reacted to the concept on a wider scale. The company says about 20 per cent of its Canadian locations are testing the $1 fee for reserved seats at regular screenings.

If the concept is received positively, it’s likely Cineplex will revisit the reserved seating at regular screenings for other event movies expected to draw huge crowds.

The move comes as Cineplex and other theatre owners hunt for ways to boost profits at a time when a night at the movies competes with a raft of other convenient entertainment alternatives, like Netflix.

Screenings of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” have put an extra financial squeeze on North American exhibitors after Disney revealed a number of unusual requirements for any theatre wanting to screen the film.

Disney told exhibitors it would pocket about 65 per cent of the box-office revenues from Star Wars tickets. Traditionally, distributors take about half of the box-office revenue for a movie.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Disney’s move cuts deeply into exhibitor profits for the biggest movie of the holiday season.

It was widely expected that theatre owners would look to recoup their lost share in other places, like hiking the price of concession items and boosting ticket prices wherever possible.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One dead in Balfour house fire

Police are investigating, calling the fire ‘suspicious’

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

Nelson residents arrive home from quarantine in Peru

Greg Smith, Laurel Conley and Veronica Holman were travelling in Peru before the COVID-19 pandemic

LETTER: Keep smiling and whirling

From reader Allan A. Chalmers

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

B.C. artist erects 15-foot statue and names it COVID

Decades of collecting spare parts culminated in folk art towering over a country road

B.C. jails grant early release for close to 100 inmates due to COVID-19

The move, which impacts offenders serving intermittent sentences, is to prevent spread of virus

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read