Few people like sitting in the first row of a movie theater, necks craned up to see only fleeting glimpses of action. (Did Vin Diesel just drive a car over a cliff?) But what if you could save a few bucks that way? Alternately, what if a seat with a perfect view of the screen cost more?
That’s the slightly dystopian scenario being offered by AMC Theatres, which plans to introduce a tiered ticket pricing structure that depends on your line of sight.
According to NPR, AMC has dubbed it Sightline at AMC. If moviegoers want to sit off-center, they’ll be charged the standard ticket fee, or Standard Sightline. If they want to sit in the middle with a good view of the screen, they’ll be in the Preferred Sightline area at an upcharge. Seats in the front are considered Value Sightline and come at a discount. Tickets prices could fluctuate up or down by $1 to $2. (Standard ticketing prices apply before 4 p.m. and during all showtimes on Tuesdays.)
Roughly 40 AMC locations in New York, Chicago, and Kansas City will be the first to participate. AMC theaters that stick to conventional pricing will be considered the control group. If tiered pricing works, the chain will roll out the program in other markets throughout the year, with all locations participating by the end of 2023.
Amid a tumultuous box office landscape, AMC has experimented with various offers. The theater screened 2022’s The Batman by charging up to $2 more than standard pricing. Recently, 80 for Brady was offered by several theater chains at matinee prices regardless of the showtime.
Variable pricing is nothing new: Most theaters charge less for matinee screenings during the day, while discount theaters offer fewer amenities or movies that have been out in wide release for a reduced fee. It’s also common in live entertainment, where front-row seats are costly. But if you can wait for a movie to hit home video, you’ll get the cheapest seat possible: your couch.