Ticket prices raised again in the debate over Oz films

06 November, 2014 by Don Groves

Would lower ticket prices encourage more people to see Australian films in cinemas?

That question has been raised several times in the debate over the inability of  local films to connect with moviegoers. The answer is a resounding yes, according to some respondents to the latest informal survey on social media.


However exhibitors and distributors have rejected calls for variable pricing for Australian films. “If you ask people about value/price, they always say that items are too expensive, however Gold Class and other added-value offerings continue to be extremely successful,” Paramount Pictures MD Mike Selwyn tells IF. “Cinema is good value entertainment considering the quality of the infrastructure in Australia.”

Producer Annie Kinnane asked on Facebook, “If Australian films at the cinemas had a ticket price of $15 compared to the big American films at $19.50 would you see that as a way of supporting our Aussie film industry – or would you think the Aussie film mustn't be very good if they've discounted it?”

Actor Gemma Kaye responded, “I reckon I'd go more actually. Even at $15.”

Connor Van Vuuren, who co-created ABC2’s Soul Mates with brother Christiaan and Nick Boshier, said, “I think the price makes a difference. But the missing ingredients are fun and excitement… also 'high concept.' I think we need some films of that nature as palete cleansers after so much darkness.”

Film industry electrician Tobias Andersson opined, “I have been arguing for a while that it's through the average punter’s wallet you get them to take a chance on Australian films. Theatre and musicals have different ticket prices, so why not film?”

Director, writer, producer Matthew Holmes said, "Finally this is being considered! I've been saying this for years- why are $5m films the same ticket price as a $200m film? There is no logical explanation for it. In every other business it's different. A cheaper product always costs less than a top-of-the-range product. Should apply to cinema prices. Trial it at least to see if it works."

In the opposing camp, advertising executive Josh Bryer argued, “Some Aussie films are up there with the best. Pay full price for them! Support their makers financially too.”

Stills photographer Jasin Boland, who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road, The Mistress and Dracula Untold, said, “I'd be more likely to see them with a decent marketing campaign instead of "this is an Australian film you must see it." That's all we ever hear, who cares! if it's a great film market the damn thing right and bums will be on seats. Trust me the problem doesn't come from the filmmakers, look at how many Australians go global.”

EOne MD Troy Lum opposes any lowering of ticket prices, arguing that would devalue Australian films in the minds of moviegoers.

“Once you start playing with prices you are saying ‘our cinema is worth less than other kinds of cinema,’” Lum told C J Johnson, host of ABC radio’s Movieland.

Johnson had suggested eOne’s Son of a Gun might have sold more tickets if they were cheaper than US blockbusters. Lum responded, “I don’t believe you get a lesser experience out of Son of a Gun than an Avengers 4. It’s a different experience.”

The producer/distributor renewed his calls for a flexible release model for Australian and other independent films, as IF had reported. Lum said it costs $1 million- $1.5 million to market multiplex films and it’s hard, if not impossible, for most Australian films to gross $5 million so the distributor can recoup.

EOne spent $300,000 on P&A for Son of a Gun, which has grossed just $136,000. Lum said he could have taken a punt on Julius Avery's thriller if he’d been able to release it on DVD two weeks after its theatrical run and a week later on digital platforms.