Dear The Board,
Could you please speculate on how the film industry would change if the cost of movie tickets was determined by movie length? To start, I assume all box office records would have an asterisk next to them. Would we see more short films being made, or would all the studios try to woo the likes of Peter Jackson and James Cameron? Would theaters sell movie passes with time on them?
That is an extremely interesting proposition. I think a lot of it would depend on how much ticket prices were changed. Let's look at two scenarios (I'm taking a lot of liberties here, and as a disclaimer, I have no experience working in film. I simply love movies and speculating).
In the first scenario, let's say that the average cost of a movie ticket stays the same. Per the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average price of a movie ticket in the US as of 2016 was $8.65. Without worrying about who gets what percent of the revenue, that would mean for every 1,000 people the film would make $8,650. Let's say that the price of a ticket for The Last Jedi, with a run time of 2 hours and 35 minutes, is raised to to $10.65 and the price of a ticket for The Greatest Showman, with a run time of 1 hour and 45 minutes, is dropped to $6.65. I think the biggest question would be whether or not the 1,000 people who went to go see TLJ for $8.65 would be willing to pay an extra $2.00 to see the movie? Since many theaters are already charging that much for movies, I'm going to go with yes. I also think that more people would be willing to go see TGS because of the reduced price. Thus both movies would be able to turn a bigger profit. Basically, I don't think much would change with the movie industry if the average price of a ticket remains constant.
In the second scenario, let's say that shorter movies, like TGS keep the same $8.65 price tag, whereas longer movies, such as TLJ, are hiked up to somewhere around $20. Suddenly, longer movies would become a larger gamble for studios. Like the first scenario, the question would be whether or not theater-goers would be willing to fork out the extra money to go see TLJ or other movies with extended run times. Because this could make longer movies more hit and miss, I think that eventually only franchise films would fall under this category. Movies like Star Wars, The Avengers, Justice League, etc. can often sell tickets based on anticipation and hype alone. So I think you would see those movies continue with their longer run times, whereas unknown commodities would become shorter.
Let's just hope it doesn't happen. I'm very content going to see Avengers: Infinity War for $9, thank you very much.
Probably more "Eclipse Part 1" and "Eclipse Part 2" kinds of garbage.