As Canadian moviegoers return to the movies for the first time summer movie season in three yearssome customers of the nation’s largest theater chain will notice a new unwanted charge added to the cost of their ticket.
This month, Cineplex CGX-T implemented a $1.50 reservation fee for tickets purchased online and on its mobile app. Guests who purchase tickets in person at theater kiosks, box offices or concession stands will not be charged, while members of Cineplex’s Scene+ rewards program will pay $1 per ticket, and members of Cineplex’s new monthly CineClub subscription program the company will not pay the fee in full. .
In a statement, Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s vice president of communications, content marketing and social media, said the new role was necessary to “invest further and evolve our digital infrastructure.”
The surcharge comes as the Canadian theater giant, which operates 1,640 screens across the country, expects a season filled with new blockbusters including Thor: love and thunder Y Minions: The Rise of Grubut also a consumer base wary of inflation.
Last month, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob told the balloon that as gas and grocery costs continued to rise, there were no plans to increase the cost of a movie ticket.
“I think our guests would be more than happy for a nominal price increase, but I’m not in a hurry to do that,” Jacob said. “I want to make sure our guests come back… We want to make the movie experience affordable.”
In his statement, Van Lange noted that online reservation fees “have been in place for many years with our exhibition counterparts globally” and are common at other ticketed entertainment venues, including those that host concerts, plays and live sports.
Landmark Cinemas, Canada’s second-largest exhibitor, is currently “evaluating the impact” of Cineplex’s new fee and “determining what will be best for our business,” according to CEO Bill Walker.
The move to lower the cost for Scene+ members and eliminate fees for CineClub subscribers speaks to Cineplex’s desire to further deepen its ties with consumers. CineClub launched last August, with members paying $9.99 a month (less than the cost of a single ticket) for one free screening each month, plus discounts on tickets and concessions.
Meanwhile, Cineplex and the Bank of Nova Scotia earlier this month he welcomed Empire, the parent company of the Sobeys supermarket chain, as the new co-owner of Scene+. When the successful sequel Top Gun: Maverick opened last month, 50 percent of Cineplex moviegoers used a Scene+ card to purchase tickets and concessions.
One additional charge Cineplex customers won’t see, at least not yet, is “variable pricing” or “dynamic pricing,” a potential game-changer that AMC Entertainment AMC-N experimented with this spring when the American exhibitor charged more for tickets than the batman than other less expected movies.
“The way we do variable pricing is with our premium offerings: If you go see a movie in IMAX, in Ultra AVX, you pay a premium,” Jacob told The Globe in an interview last May. “We haven’t gotten to the point where we have premium prices because it’s an ‘X’ product. We will see and do it if we see that it works. But for us, it’s driven by the experience we bring to you.”
Cineplex has already been more than two months in fully normalized operations throughout the country, without vaccine passports or other public health restrictions. Last month, Cineplex reported that it had trimmed its first-quarter loss to $42.2 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with a loss of $89.7 million, or $1.42 a share, for the year. previous.
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