See you at the movies

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

In more ways than one, the big screen is back

I don’t know about anyone else, but the past couple of years have broken my habit of going to a theater to see movies on the big screen.

But I get a sense that is going to change. And I get a strong feeling that, in both senses of seeing fewer in-theater movies and getting ready to see more, I am not alone.

Many of us have become comfortable, if not semi-permanently ensconced in front of our own home screens for lots of obvious and compelling reasons.

From the cost, to transportation and logistical issues, like parking, it takes more and more unique big screen features to pry us off our couches.

Let the movie marketing begin

To put it mildly, the movie industry was hit hard by the pandemic the past few years.

Many theaters did not survive. Nationwide, and locally, we saw a record number of closures of chain as well as independent theaters.

Those that remained are regrouping and some are proposing new projection and pricing strategies.

AMC, America’s largest movie chain announced that the prices of a ticket will now be based on seat location, meaning seats in the front will be cheaper while more desirable seats in the middle will cost more. The new ticket pricing policy will roll out at all of its roughly 1,000 movie theaters by the end of 2023.

Live theater has had this policy for decades – but will it work with film?

Subscribing to movies?

A one-time, all-you-can-eat model of movie-going has been attempted by several movie chains, and of course Movie Pass.

The idea is simple, and works much like grocery store loyalty program with special deals or other incentives for consistent customers. For those who see movies on the big screen on a regular basis, these can be a great deal.

If you have a favorite theater, you might look into one of these.

AMC Theatres, for example, offers a tiered movie subscription program for ages 16 and older, based on the number of theater locations where you’ll be watching movies. This AMC specific movie pass even applies to IMAX movies and opening nights, and there are no blackout dates.

You can see up to three movies a week, 10% off most concessions and a free large popcorn on your birthday for about $20 a month.

Regal Cinemas’ movie subscription plan is tiered, giving you access to a greater number of theater locations where you can watch movies. You can only sign up for this subscription via the Regal mobile app. With Regal, you can view an unlimited number of movies for under $20 a month.

Cinemark Movie Club costs about $10 a month, but you can only see one each month.

Contact your preferred theater for current details. Circumstances can change quickly.

The return of Movie Pass

For a truly all-you-can-eat movie experience, you can’t beat Movie Pass.

Movie Pass first emerged a few years ago, and like a lot of film related businesses faltered and folded in the difficult years. But it’s coming back. Eventually.

Movie Pass is not tied to any particular theater chain or region.

It is even accepted at some independent theaters – in fact you can use it at more than 4,000 theaters across America.

The premise, at least for moviegoers, is simple; for a set fee, you buy credits which are then used to see movies.

For $10 a month you can see up to three movies. And if you don’t use your points, they accrue. For $40 a month you can see a movie every day – up to 30 movies.

At this time, Movie Pass only applies to 2D movies. Adjustments for 3D are coming.

You can see a state by state listing of theaters that accept Movie Pass here.

For the movie fan in your life, I can’t imagine a better gift.

Did you know China has the most moviegoers in the world?

Throughout 2021, box offices in China sold over 1.15 billion movie tickets. That figure surpasses those of the United States, India, Russia, and Japan combined. (

Movie friendly cities

For lots of obvious reasons, some areas are more suitable for attending movies.

As you might guess, New York and Los Angeles are the top movie-going cities.

San Francisco and Chicago are at numbers three and four. Portland, Oregon is at number seven and Seattle at number nine.

Of 200 cities, those with the lowest movie attendance were with Worcester, Massachusetts (No. 196), Hialeah, Florida (No. 197), Killeen, Texas (No. 198), and Toledo, Ohio (No. 199), ranking alongside Pomona, California, in last place. Tacoma was ranked at number 103.

You can see the details and the survey criteria here.

Oddly enough, cities with the highest level of theater attendance also tend to have the best streaming quality.

Editor’s note: A few years ago I attended a film just outside of Los Angeles. There was a couple sitting in front of me that worked in the film industry. I usually hate it when people talk during movies, but in this case it was absolutely fascinating. They had friends or family members who had worked on many scenes as set designers, extras or helpers of some kind.

I could tell that this film was like a community project for them. A movie, after all, is far more than the few actors in the headlines. The credits at the end show how many people it takes to put together a movie worth seeing.