Movie ticket prices creep up and this could change some viewing habits

Ticket counter at Cathay Jem cinema. Some moviegoers have kicked up a fuss online after finding out that prices for one of Singaporeans' favourite leisure activities have crept up. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Ticket counter at Cathay Jem cinema. Some moviegoers have kicked up a fuss online after finding out that prices for one of Singaporeans' favourite leisure activities have crept up. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Some moviegoers have kicked up a fuss online after finding out that prices for one of Singaporeans' favourite leisure activities have crept up.

Since the beginning of the year, cinema operators have been quietly raising prices. Lianhe Wanbao and MyPaper reported on it this week.

Catching a 2-D movie at Cathay cinemas now costs $13 from Friday evenings to Sundays, and on the eve of public holidays from 6pm and on public holidays. This is an increase of $2 for a regular title and $1 for a blockbuster title since Jan 9. An example of a blockbuster would be X-Men: Days Of Future Past, currently showing in cinemas.

At Golden Village, the ticket price is $12.50, up from $11.50 since Feb 27, from Friday evening to Sunday, on the eve of a public holiday after 6pm and on a public holiday.

At Shaw cinemas, it is $12, up from $11 since April 25 (Friday to Sunday, eve of and on a public holiday), and at FilmGarde, it is $12, up from $11.50 since last month (Friday to Sunday, eve of and on a public holiday).

On the AsiaOne page on Facebook, moviegoers vented their frustrations. User Janet Tan commented, "Crazy... too expensive", while user Gareth Fong suggested watching movies in Malaysia instead where it costs "only RM17 (S$6.62) for 2D movie".

On its website, Cathay explained why prices have been raised this year. It noted: "There has been a marked increase in operational expenses for the past few years. As such, it is challenging to absorb these rising costs which comprise rental, staff costs, utilities and film hires."

Ms Han Minli, business development director for FilmGarde, told Life! that rental and labour costs have "jumped significantly" and that theirs is a labour-intensive industry which employs ushers, service staff and cleaners.

Golden Village and Shaw also pointed to rising costs on their websites. Golden Village said that "it has proven to be challenging in offsetting recent inflationary costs in overheads such as rent, utilities, film hire and staff hires".

A Shaw Theatres spokesman added: "Traditionally we have been conservative towards increasing prices. Once again we have delayed this for as long as we can."

The price increase will have an impact on the movie-viewing habits of some.

Mr Leow Kwang Heng, 36, who works in banking, told Life! that because of the rise in prices, he is increasingly more selective about what he chooses to watch. He said: "I will only catch blockbusters with special effects, film festival screenings or when I am watching something with a group of friends."

In addition, he will pro-actively seek out credit card and membership card promotions when choosing which cinema to patronise.

This was also a point made by the cinema operators.

Cathay said on its website that as "a commitment to keep cinema-going affordable for all segments of the community", it will continue to offer preferential rates for certain card holders as well as for groups such as senior citizens and students.

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