Fixing Movie Prices

Who doesn’t love going to the movies?  Going to the movies is a classic American pastime.  But there is a problem.  Ticket prices are too high.  In many places it costs $10 for one ticket.  Factor in popcorn and drinks and a night at the movies can cost a family a good sized chunk.  Fortunately there is a solution.

Movie tickets prices are the same for everyone, or to use the proper terminology, prices are regressive.  Movie ticket prices unfairly burden the poor, while fat cats can enjoy a film without paying their fair share.  A more progressive price structure is in order.

Everyone could affix a small sticker, provided by the IRS, to their drivers’ license (though I suppose requiring identification might be racist) indicating their income category.  Borrowing the rough structure applied to federal income taxes we would immediately exempt half the viewing population from paying anything.  We should also consider providing snacks to those in the lowest income group.

The price for the average, middle income movie-goer would necessarily jump to around $25 per ticket.  “Millionaires” (defined to encompass any person with a family income of more than $200,000 annually), would need to pay $75.  The task of footing the rest of the bill would fall to the vile “1 percenters.”  Those rich bastards need to pay their fair share.  Something in the neighborhood of $300 sounds right.

Under this stimulative program attendance at movies – the vast majority of which are made right here in the United States – should skyrocket.  Why wouldn’t it?  Our progressive ticket price scheme means that about 150 million Americans would not have to pay one cent to see a movie, some of them would even get free Jujubes.

Of course the wealthy elite may not want to pay $300 to watch exploding robot cars.  Fortunately many of them have access to key decision makers, so creating a few ticket price incentive programs, credits, and rebates should not be a problem.  Before too long only some rich big shots would have to pay ticket prices, those friendly with the politicians in power would be able to get private screenings. Because, let’s face it, who wants to sit in a theater full of poor people?

Naturally, loopholes for some will create revenue shortfalls for film makers.  That is an easy fix too.  Those who don’t pay anything for a movie would be willing to call on the wealthy to do just a little more, heck we could even get some to stage protests and other public displays of outrage.  It will get great coverage in the New York Times.

Eventually middle class movie prices will rise to $30 a head, while the white collar set will have to pay $82.50.  The fat cats not smart enough to get with the program will see ticket prices of $350.

But, you say, what happens if all those people simply stop going to the movies?

At first film makers will try to tailor story lines to appeal to those ticket buyers, but soon will realize that by doing so they will be discriminating against lower income movie goers.  Obviously the only solution is to mandate that everyone see at least two movies per month, or rather, pay for at least two movies per month.  That is an important distinction because, with their sheer advantage in numbers, movies will be created for the non-paying public – probably films that somehow insult the lifestyle of the $82.50 payers – so the paying customers may try to avoid the movies.

Now, with attendance surging new theaters will need to be built, and someone will have to pay for that.  Best to just add a $5 per head surcharge to each ticket price.

This progressive ticket price structure is a good plan.  It is fair, in the sense that it forces some people to support the film watching habits of other people, and it works, in the sense that we say it works.

Then again, we could just let the market determine ticket values.  That would require a lot less work and would have the side benefit of treating all people equally – and I seem to recall some smart guys saying equality was important and that the freedom to make choices was just.  But, those guys are dead, and they probably had a few character flaws too.


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