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.

Just Posted

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Clear skies and pushing 20 C

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny and warm Easter weekend

COLUMN: Bunnies, sexuality and the freedom to read

A book about a gay bunny has been the subject of challenges

It’s time to Ring and Sing, in spring

The Musaic Vocal Ensemble and the Oliver Handbell Ringers present a concert for bells and voices

British-born recording artist sings the blues for Okanagan critters

Steve Rodgers, son of legendary musician Paul Rodgers is performing a benefit concert Saturday

Parliament Hill 4-20 organizers predict record crowd after legalization

A celebration? Yes, but organizers say concerns remain about the government’s decisions on legalization rollout

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, multiple people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Local Kelowna project tabs restaurant workers for industry fundraiser

The 2nd Hungry Games invites fundraises for local charities

Home Hardware to give away free Reusable Shopping Bags in honour of Earth Day

“We feel we have a responsibility to keep our ecological footprint as small as possible”

Most Read