IMAX Worse Than TicketMaster?

With some truly big movies out this summer, most notably The Dark Knight, IMAX once again is the place to see movies. Or at least so I’ve been told.

I’ve actually never seen a “real” movie at the IMAX, i.e. a Hollywood production; the only IMAX movies I remember are the ones from my childhood, like Beavers and Everest. Those are all fine and good, but after missing movie after movie after movie on the big IMAX screen, I decided it was time to finally to make my move and hit up The Dark Knight on the lauded format.

The nearest IMAX is in downtown Seattle, about 25-30 minutes from where I live. Take parking and walking to the theater into account, it’s probably a 45-minute trip one-way. That being said, it doesn’t make much sense for me to spend my time and money to drive to the IMAX, buy my tickets at the box office, and return home. So, I did what I presume most people do when they decide to buy tickets to the IMAX – they go to the website.

Now, I hate ticket surcharges. It’s not necessarily the cost (though it is in this situation), but the principal of the matter. I understand perhaps a $1 fee here and there, as most ticket-sellers are essentially middle men and deserve to profit from being such. With Fandango, though, the per-ticket fee is not cheap, making it much more worthwhile to drive to the local theater and pick up the tickets myself. Actually, I just checked, and it’s only $1.25, but that’s per ticket, which means things add up quickly. Don’t even get me started on TicketMaster, which should be sued by the government a thousand times over.

Anyway, back to IMAX.

So I decide to go see The Dark Knight with a couple of friends. Two of whom I’m buying tickets for. I go to the site, select three tickets, which, understandably, are slightly more pricy at $10.75 a pop. That’s fine. But wait, what the fuck is this? A $3/ticket charge? Three fucking dollars per ticket? Are you fucking kidding me?

Now let me digress. Let’s say a company such as IMAX decides to build their own e-commerce system. I bet it could be made for $1,000, but for doubt’s sake, let’s say a system costs $100,000 to make, maintain and keep secure.  At $3 per ticket, that means it would take 33,333 tickets sold before breaking even. The Seattle theater alone seats 405 people, which means 82 sold out showing. The Dark Knight has four showings a day, which means that it would take them 21 days of showing Batman to break even. We’re on day 18 of the film’s release, and almost all of the showings have been selling out.

In other words, assuming the ridiculously overpriced cost of $100,000, a one-time fee, it would take the IMAX just over three weeks of convenience charges to pay for their entire system. Even if they had to pay that every year – which they don’t – they would be immensely profitable. Of course, IMAX outsources their e-commerce, which means they pay a small fee for each ticket sold, but it’s probably like 25 cents, which means $2.75 extra profit per ticket.

Oh, and there’s also a $2 order charge to top everything off.

And IMAX is saving money because their “convenience” charge is not for us but for them, as they don’t have to pay people to manually sell tickets to us moviegoers.

Bottom line: I paid nearly $15 per ticket, and IMAX is making nearly $5 of pure profit off my transaction. Fucking scam if you ask me.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Miscellaneous
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