I know movie theaters aren't set up for this yet, but how hard would it be to change? Fast food restaurants have the technology. Sure, they might have to set up improved security on the theater doors to make sure those going into the expensive movies actually paid for them. Maybe some sort of turnstile scanner like they have on subways these days. Or just throw a minimum-wage kid on the door for the expensive films (which they already do on opening weekend for big movies) and don't worry about the rest.
OK, so if variable pricing is too big of a leap, how about coupons? A movie's not doing well, so put a coupon for $1 off in the paper/online. It works for other markets, why not movies (or music for that matter)? If studios want to stop the declining attendance at the movies, they'd better start thinking about making changes like this real soon.
Pricing sends a signal. People have come to believe that “you get what you pay for.” If you lowered the price of a movie, people would immediately infer from the low price that it's a crappy movie and they wouldn't go see it. If you had different prices for movies, the $4 movies would have a lot less customers than they get anyway. The entertainment industry has to maintain a straight face and tell you that Gigli or Battlefield Earth are every bit as valuable as Wedding Crashers or Star Wars or nobody will go see them.He could be right. But we won't really know the effects of such a change unless we test it out. There might be markets where you don't want to do this. Or times of day. Or certain movies. But ultimately if the movie studios aren't happy with the way things are going, they should start testing out these sorts of things real soon.