The Multiplex Strikes Back

(Photo: Timothy Vollmer)

In The Knockoff Economy,we wrote about how turning products into experiences is one way to blunt the detrimental effects of copies. Products – especially digital ones – are often very easy to copy. But experiences can be highly copy-resistant.  Just think of music: it’s easy to pirate a song, but it’s very difficult to effectively pirate a live show. Or movies: it’s easy to pirate a film, but it’s impossible to pirate the experience of watching a movie at a premium theater like The Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles.  You can’t cheaply copy the comfy reserved seats, the fancy food and drink, the great sight lines and sound.

All this, of course, comes at a price. But it helps justify the idea of going to a movie theater in an age when home downloads, on a widescreen computer monitor, can be pretty good.

How far can this strategy go? Pretty far, it seems. The L.A. Times reports that the upcoming World War Z movie release will go much deeper, offering a $48 “mega ticket” to zombie-crazed fans:

The package will include an advance screening in RealD 3-D of the Brad Pitt movie at select theaters nationwide on June 19 — two days before its worldwide release — along with one HD digital copy of the movie when it becomes available, a pair of custom RealD 3-D glasses, a limited edition full-size movie poster as well as a small popcorn.

Not surprisingly, the Mega Ticket comes with a mega price of $48.

Nonetheless, Regal, the nation’s largest theater chain, is hoping the jumbo ticket deal will catch on with some patrons.

“Regal is pleased to offer this ultimate fan event at five locations in conjunction with our partners at Paramount Pictures,” Ken Thewes, chief marketing officer for Regal Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “The interest and anticipation for Brad Pitt’s latest thriller is at a fever pitch and this ‘World War Z Mega Ticket’ offers a unique experience for our patrons.”

The announcement comes as theater owners and executives at the major studios have been discussing new strategies to boost their respective businesses. That’s in marked contrast to the bitter clashes that erupted two years ago over when movies would be released into the home. Promoting home video sales in theaters are among the ideas that have been discussed.


I don't know how many commenting here are familar with movie theatres in L.A., but I wouldn't consider any of the Regal theaters to be woth a premium price under any circumstances. The projection staff most certainly and sometimes the sound quality don't match what you get at Arclight or IMAX (even the Laemmle chain is beter than many Regals). I was very interested in the package until I saw the list of theatres that it was offered at. I also prefer glasses with active shutters, which in L.A .only the Arclight has for mainstream blockbuster releases. Last, World War Z wasn't even shot in 3d, it was a post-processing conversion, I simply won't pay extra for that.


What was the result of this? How much money did World War Z make from this $48 special?