Cinemas are for suckers… like me.

I ventured out to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, along with thousands of other Aussies this week.

The main reason I went was to be convinced, once again, that despite his oddness, shortness, and proboscis, Tom Cruise, is still fantastic in action films.

Seriously, Cruise gets the same look hanging from the world’s tallest building as does a two-year-old in a sandpit.

But, the cinema experience was slightly betrayed by yet another leap in cinema ticket prices. Prices had even risen since I last saw a film… last month.

$21 per ticket. Twenty-One Dollars.

I can accept Australia’s high taxes as we receive great services. Likewise, I can accept Sydney’s preposterous real estate prices because it’s the best city in the world and supply-demand means I’m going to pay more to live here.

But why, when the prices of DVDs are still tumbling (thanks eBay) and my options to watch films are always increasing (downloads, file-sharing, smart-TVs, Netflix, RedRoom, T-Box streaming) does the cost of seeing a movie continue to rise?

Cinemas have had me annoyed ever since I had to confront the manager at Hoyts in Sydney CBD after I spent an entire Batman film sitting in the floor in the aisle. I was not alone in the aisle. The film was so over-booked there was ten or more of us who slummed it just to see a new release blockbuster.

And that’s not the only madness going on at one of Australia’s biggest movie franchises.

Cinema customers wanting to see a film at Hoyts these days must jump through several hoops that did not used to exist.

1. Plan your night early, allowing time to use the glitzy hoyts.com.au website.
2. First-timers must sign up to the Hoyts Rewards Program, which does offer one free introductory ticket.
3. Pay $21 per ticket for any friends you mistakenly thought to invite.
4. Pay a $1 booking fee per ticket.
5. Print tickets to scan at self-serve cinema.
6. Sell soul to devil to partially replenish your bank account.

Although that is only six points, there are several things wrong with this.

Being an avid user of the internet, I can’t help but use a web-based analogy.

If you had to install a Flash plug-in every time you used a particular website, would you return to that website often?

Or, if you like shopping, imagine you had to call Myer to warn them you were coming, prior to any trip. Absurd.

I certainly recieved a good movie on a big screen with loud sound, but, as the cinemas try to deter illegal downloading of films, what more are the cinemas offering me at this grand event?

They’ve replaced the staff selling tickets with vending machines. The toxic choc-tops are still a ludicrous $5. The chips cost so much I had smuggle in my own Cheezels to save $3. Why do I still put myself through this for two scenes that would still look pretty good on my own 42″ TV, assuming I sit really close?

The screen has been given a special name like Vortex or Mammoth-Vision or something.

This cynical strategy is to hide the fact that as prices have increased, screen sizes have reduced. More films can the be shown more often to more people.

In the industry, it’s probably called “Sucker-Churn”.

(It may also explain why the price of my ticket was $3 more than lat week but the website was unclear.)

Be warned: If your cinema screen is not called Senstadium, Mega-Visiontacular, or some such, be sure it’s barely bigger than your wall at home. And at home, you can put your feet up, make your own popcorn and tell people to keep quiet without risking a fight.

Plus, no one has to sit on the floor.

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