AMC Theatres is facing backlash after announcing its new Sightline initiative, which changes ticket pricing based on seat location within the auditorium. “The Lord of the Rings” actor Elijah Wood is already one of the initiative’s most vocal detractors, taking to social media to condemn the decision for potentially hurting moviegoers with lower incomes.
“The movie theater is and always has been a sacred democratic space for all,” Wood wrote. “This new initiative by AMC Theatres would essentially penalize people for lower income and reward for higher income.”
Wood, who can next been seen on Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” Season 2, was joined by many others in criticizing AMC Theatres, the largest exhibition chain in the U.S. “Look, this is some classist shit,” wrote YouTube film critic John Rocha. “IMAX, 4DX, 3D, Screen X charging more makes sense since you’re getting the film in a new way. BUT this is not the way. Poor people, you sit in the poor section and you rich folks please move the velvet ropes around the…”
As Variety reported, the Sightline initiative kicks off on Friday at select AMC locations in New York, Chicago and Kansas City and will be expanded to all domestic AMC locations by the end of the year. The exhibitor is offering three different seat-pricing options: Standard Sightline (“seats that are the most common in auditoriums and are available for the traditional cost of a ticket”), Value Sightline (“seats in the front row of the auditorium, as well as select ADA seats in each auditorium, and are available at a lower price than standard sightline seats”) and Preferred Sightline (“seats in the middle of the auditorium and are priced at a premium to standard sightline seats”).
AMC noted in its announcement that AMC Stubs A-List members will be able to reserve seats in the Preferred Sightline Section at no additional cost. Value Sightline pricing is only available to AMC Stubs members, including the free tier membership.
The Sightline initiative is the latest AMC Theatres experiment when it comes to movie ticket prices. Last year, the exhibitor made headlines after it boosted ticket prices during the opening weekend of Warner Bros.’ comic book tentpole “The Batman.” AMC charged customers about $1 to $2 more for “The Batman” opening weekend tickets compared to other movies playing at the same time.