AMC Theatres Has Abandoned Their Plan To Charge More For The Best Seats In Movie Theaters

BY RYAN SCOTT/JULY 20, 2023 2:40 PM EST

AMC Theatres is not going to roll out its variable pricing model for seating nationwide. The initiative, called "Sightline," was announced earlier this year, with the idea being that users would pay more to sit in the better seats in a given theater, while undesirable seats, namely in the front row, would be slightly cheaper. However, after testing out the program in a few markets in the U.S., the nation's largest exhibitor decided not to move forward with the plan.

The news was confirmed by AMC in a press release, in which the company shared its findings from the program. While they certainly tried to paint it in a rosy way, moviegoers will not have to endure higher prices for better seats. That's the key thing to take away. The company said the following about their findings from the pilot program:

The initiative was originally announced in February as a means to try and drum up more revenue per customer. While it sounds like the good seats were indeed filled, the "modest" reduction for the not-so-great seats didn't help move the needle. So, AMC will try something else instead.

What comes next for AMC?

Certain moviegoers feared that this variable pricing model for seats in movie theaters would catch on. If it had worked out very well, odds are, other exhibitors such as Regal and Cinemark may well have followed suit. That didn't happen. As AMC outlined in its press release, they are opting to stick with the rest of the industry in pricing, while working towards making the front rows in its theaters far more desirable.

This, for my money, feels like a much better move. Nobody wants to sit in the front row for a movie, generally speaking, because it's just too close to really soak in the experience. But in a heavily reclining seat that had a lot more space to relax? That might be appealing depending on how well it's executed.

It's hard to blame AMC for trying something new. The company is saddled with billions in debt, in no small part due to the pandemic. That's probably why they started selling AMC-branded popcorn in retail stores earlier this year. Maybe that initiative is actually panning out for the company because this one sure didn't. Fortunately, a not-great idea didn't catch on and moviegoers who buy tickets early can get those good seats without fear of being upcharged for the privilege. Just as nature intended.

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