THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

The Price Of The Ticket - Another Rant!

I just purchased my tickets for the Sunday 7:30PM screening of Melvin Van Peebles's latest opus, Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha, at the ongoing Tribeca Film Festival. I'm going with a couple of friends, but offered to purchase tickets online, ahead of time, for all us, since I heard that one of the screenings had already sold out!

So, I went through the motions on the website for the Tribeca Film Festival, clicking on my selection, the time slot and the number of tickets. By the time I got to the page on which you're asked to enter your credit card info, I noticed how the price of each ticket had suddenly jumped from the initial $15 (a number I think is already a little high for any festival screening) to a final price of $18.50 for each ticket.

"WTF?" I said to myself immediately! I know there are no taxes on these tickets, so what makes up the additional $3.50?

After a little investigating, I discovered that there's some cryptic $2 "festival charge" that I still can't find a proper explanation for, as well as an additional $1.50 convenience fee for being able to buy my ticket online. So, what really should have been a total of $45 for 3 tickets (again, I think a little high for the experience) ended up totaling up to almost $60!

"This is bullshit!" was my next thought! Mofos are trying to get as much money out of the user as possible to fatten their profits! Nothing new about that concept, of course... we do live in a capitalist society, and they are very much part of industry, like every other business. However, it's still bullshit!!!!! And I have a right to vent about it ;o)

In short, I think this actually hurts festivals, because they're making it unaffordable and thus unappealing to the average film lover - their target audience. It's not an elitist affair, and shouldn't be. I know $18.50 for a movie ticket doesn't necessarily cry out elitism, but it certainly keeps groups of people away who may have otherwise patronized the event, but instead choose to opt out due in large part to "The Price of the Ticket" (summoning James Baldwin's words).

I live in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in America, so, I certainly expect to pay a little more than what most others would. However, I'm not wealthy... I'm doing ok... things could be worse... can't complain about my socioeconomic status. BUT, that doesn't mean I want to be taken advantage of and bled for every penny in my piggybank!

In comparison, "regular" movie ticket prices are quickly surpassing the $12 price at some NYC theatres. I remember not so long ago, when I could enjoy stadium seating, mammoth screens and THX sound effects for around $8. I miss those days. But I know I'll likely never see them again. It's only a matter of time until when Tribeca's $18.50 charge per ticket will become the standard for all theatrical events. And after that, how much higher we go is anyone's guess. What did Buzz Lightyear say in Toy Story again? Oh yeah, "To Infinity... And Beyond!"

I found this bite of info from an article on indieWIRE.com, an indie film site I frequent. It says it all...

"The price of seeing a movie at the annual Tribeca Film Festival is increasing dramatically in an area of New York City where the cost of daily life seems to be on a continual incline. At a time when the cost of living in Manhattan continues to push many people to outer boroughs... the price of a ticket at the emerging Tribeca Film Festival is increasing by 50% this year. While most tickets for last year's festival were sold for $12, this year tickets for the majority of screenings are priced at $18. The cost is higher than all other festivals in major American urban cities but perhaps not totally surprising to those who face some costly cultural event prices in New York City where a ticket to MoMA infamously hit $20 and the price of a ticket to a Broadway show often exceeds $100.

Tribeca festival organizers defended their move to $18 movie tickets saying that they offer a major cultural event unlike the typical trip to the multiplex in Manhattan where ticket prices linger around $11 - $12. (TAO says: "Oh really")

"Seeing a film at the festival is not just seeing a movie at the local theater," explained Tammie Rosen, director of communications for the Festival, calling the event a "unique experience that cannot be re-created." She emphasized that TFF tickets are on par with the cost of going to a festival in other international cities with a similar cost of living, like London. In that city, tickets to the London Film Festival range from as high as about $17 U.S. dollars to about $14 USD in other London festival venues (and local London movie tickets currently cost about $13 - $14 USD in Leicester Square). Elsewhere in Europe, tickets for the annual Berlin International Film Festival in Germany are priced at about 7 -8 Euros and 11 Euros for gala screenings.

Numerous organizers from other American film festivals privately expressed surprise at Tribeca's dramatic move and a few spoke with indieWIRE about general ticket pricing, noting that festival ticket costs are typically set at or near the cost of a regular movie ticket at local multiplexes and arthouse venues (TAO says: "exactly - thank you very much" ).

The event's general ticket prices top the Sundance Film Festival, which charges $15 for tickets and the costs are essentially rivaling the New York Film Festival, the famously selective uptown Manhattan event that charged $16 and $20 for tickets to Lincoln Center screenings back in October (and $10 for Walter Reade Theater screenings, before discounts). The Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA's New Directors/New Films series, currently running at the Walter Reade Theater and the Museum of Modern Art, charges $12 for tickets to showings."

Boo-hoo! I should reconsider my purchase and instead spend the money on improving my love life and lasting longer, with the product on display below :o)

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3 comments:

  1. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    And I read this about TFF just yesterday on Guardian Online:

    "This year's event has reduced the number of feature films from 157 to 121. Following accusations that ticket prices were too high, the basic cost of admission has been trimmed from $18 (£9) to $15 (£7.50)."

    I guess they figured there'd be other ways to get their money back while still showing willing on the face of it... Count yourself lucky you don't live in the UK (London especially) - everything's twice as expensive as it is in NY and we get ripped off as a matter of course for everything!

  2. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Oh, and hope the film is worth it... Though the trailer doesn't seem too appealing.

  3. theblackactor.com said...
     

    Some how, some way, they'll prolly blame the ticket cost on the cost of gas, no doubt.

    But it is really too bad b/c it will price some people out of attendance at the festival, like you said.

    Enjoy it... the festival, that is. :)

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