Archive for the ‘HOLLYWOOD’ Category

New york universal 003

The price tag would impress Donald Trump.

Universal Studios revealed on Thursday that it had invested $200 million to rebuild its New York Street back lot, along with the King Kong attraction, both of which burned down two years ago.

Universal executives wouldn't say how much of the cost was covered by insurance, but described the rebuild as the largest set-construction project in Hollywood history.

"This is a proud day for Universal,'' Universal Studios President Ron Meyer said during an unveiling ceremony attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — who shot several movies on the property in his acting days — and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "The opening of New York Street shows the company's commitment to film and television production in Los Angeles and to supporting filmmakers worldwide."

The back lot's closure was a blow to the production community because it was a fixture in Hollywood for decades and was used in scores of TV shows, commercials and movies such as "To Kill a Mockingbird,"  "Back to the Future" and "The Blues Brothers."

Redesigned with the help of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his longtime production designer Rick Carter, the new back lot features taller buildings, narrower streets and more interior spaces to cater to current film-making needs.

The set spans 13 city blocks and includes 15 distinct shooting locations representing such areas as Wall Street, the Broadway theater district and Central Park, as well as a London section and a Paris square. Universal worked with L.A. County Fire officials to include fire safety features in the facades.

Studio executives thanked local firefighters for their efforts to contain damage from the 2008 blaze and showed their gratitude by presenting a $100,000 check to local firefighting departments.

— Richard Verrier

Photo credit: Universal Studios

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As I read Nicole LaPorte’s lively new history of DreamWorks, “The Men Who Would Be King,” I found myself transported to a time long, long ago, an era so far gone that when DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg once complained to titular DreamWorks production chief Walter Parkes that he didn’t have anything resembling a tentpole action extravaganza on the production slate, Parkes calmly replied: “If this is the kind of place where you need to have a big summer movie, well, maybe I’m not the right person for the job.”

Ah, those were the days. Founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Katzenberg when they were three of the uber-titans of the entertainment business, DreamWorks was supposed to be the studio that would transform the movie business, a modern-day media behemoth with its tentacles in music, TV, video games and all sorts of other gaudy new media arenas.

Instead of making dumbed-down comedies and  throwaway programmers, DreamWorks would offer glossy, sophisticated films that would appeal to quality-conscious moviegoers — and still make plenty of money in the process.

It didn’t pan out. For all the hoopla about DreamWorks being the studio of the future, it was very much a studio steeped in the past. Its aspirations had far more in common with the MGM of the 1930s and 1940s than the Pixar of the 21st century. DreamWorks turned out to be nothing more than just another struggling new movie studio — and quite a whopper of a dysfunctional studio at that — with its admirable output of quality fare ultimately outweighed by a host of costly live-action misfires and a mixed bag of animation releases.

In short, when you look back at all the high expectations, it was a pretty big disappointment. 

DreamWorks 2.0 is back in business, now run by Spielberg and Stacey Snider with its films being distributed by Disney. But as LaPorte’s book makes abundantly clear, the original DreamWorks was doomed from the start. Parkes’ reaction to Katzenberg’s initial concerns about the studio’s mandate is especially revelatory on several levels. Even back in the late 1990s, when the exchange occurred, studios were already turning themselves into franchise engines, filling up their slates with tentpole movies and tons of sequels.

But Parkes was simply reflecting the attitude of his real boss – -Spielberg, who as the book reveals, was so in awe of Parkes’ Ivy League erudition, good looks and certitude that as one observer put it, “If an alien from space landed in a room with Steven and Walter, it would think that Steven worked for Walter.” So Parkes was reflecting Spielberg’s vision for the company, as an artist-oriented studio that would do good works, an admirable vision, but not one that entirely reflected the views of Geffen, a man with a fierce desire to win, and Katzenberg, who having worked for years under Michael Eisner, had both feet firmly planted in the camp of making crowd-pleasing entertainment.

As the book also points out, the tension between Katzenberg and Spielberg, via Parkes, wasn’t just about a different attitude toward class versus crass. It also reflected Katzenberg’s not always unspoken feeling that after years of studio experience, he was far more qualified to run DreamWorks’ live-action division than Parkes, a talented writer-producer with, well, zero actual experience running a studio. But to Spielberg, Katzenberg may have been his partner, but he was still a schlepper. Parkes had good taste. So when “The Peacemaker,” DreamWorks’ first live-action film, went into production, shooting in Slovakia, its star, George Clooney, was furious to discover that he was always having to learn new lines faxed in from L.A. by Parkes, who it turned out wasn’t just the studio chief and a producer of the film but its rewrite man as well.

This sort of thing happened all the time at DreamWorks, which never managed to have any clear divisions of authority, except for the fact that Katzenberg had full sway over its animation wing. A series of production chiefs came and went, including such highly touted talents as ex-HBO executive Bob Cooper and ex-New Line production chief Michael De Luca, none of them lasting very long, quickly discovering that Parkes and his wife, Laurie MacDonald, were the real powers behind the throne.

Shortly after De Luca arrived, LaPorte writes that Parkes and MacDonald took him around town to introduce the new studio president at the top talent agencies. But over and over, De Luca and the other DreamWorks production execs were made to wait outside until Parkes and MacDonald finished the most important piece of business — offering a presentation of the movies they were producing themselves. “It was unbelievable,” one agent told LaPorte. “The writing was on the wall, right there. [Their] agenda was first, and Mike was an afterthought.”

After I finished reading the book last week, I asked LaPorte the obvious question: What went wrong? She has some intriguing theories about the company’s failure to live up to its high expectations. Keep reading:

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After the coffee. Before wondering if “Saturday Night Live” will get Abe Vigoda to host next season’s opener.

“Iron Man 2” huge but not HUGE. We’re all so jaded that the news for some press is that “Iron Man 2” took in $133.6 million in its opening weekend but didn’t set a new record. It only became the fifth-biggest opening of all time. Even with the inflation factor, that still seems somewhat impressive. As my dad, also a journalist, once said of the craft: “Behind every silver lining is a cloud.” Anyway, box-office analysis and spin from the Los Angeles Times, Hot Blog, Wall Street Journal and Hollywood Reporter.

More laughs at NBC? That’s laughs at NBC, not laughing at NBC. The network’s prime-time entertainment head, Angela Bromstad, tells the Hollywood Reporter that the peacock network will consider adding another hour of sitcoms on its schedule beyond Thursday night. That’s about the only tidbit in the interview. Oh, and sorry “Chuck” fans, she wouldn’t say whether the show would be coming back. Variety offers us a broad overview of network TV’s week ahead, including issues facing CBS (Charlie Sheen) and NBC (nailing down a deal for another season of “Law & Order”). Could Sheen walk? Anything is possible, but the cynic in me still says he gets a deal done by next week.

iTunes tax? The Wrap looks at a battle between North Carolina and over whether the online retailer’s customers in that state owe sales tax and wonders whether it will extend to iTunes and other Web-based merchants. If a state can tax it, the odds are it will try.

CBS to play with iPad. lands an interview with Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president of CBS Interactive, who says the network will have a heavy load of content on Apple’s iPad come this fall.

If you think “Family Guy” is obscene …: Take a look at some of the salaries at Fox parent company News Corp., including the paycheck of chief executive Rupert Murdoch. Hey, we’re not calling Rupert’s base salary obscene (anyone who still believes in news is OK with us), but that was the word used by one executive pay analyst. More on how media executives continue to pull in big paychecks while the industry struggles from the Los Angeles Times.

Forget “American Idol,” buy ads in “Chuck.” Advertising Age’s Brian Steinberg does some analysis of Nielsen’s IAG rankings, which looks at how engaged viewers are with the shows they’re watching and finds that cult shows such as ABC’s soon-to-be-history “Better off Ted” has a higher viewer engagement than “American Idol.” No surprise that the show with the most engaged audience (lunatic is the word that comes to my mind) is ABC’s “Lost.” NBC’s “Chuck” and ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters” also have obsessed followers. In theory, these folks are also more likely to recall the commercials they’ve seen.

Thank you, Robert Bianco. The USA Today TV critic dares to pan Betty White’s hosting duties on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.” He’s not anti-White mind you, he’s against lame writing, which “SNL,” as usual, offered up. We get it, watching a sweet-looking 88-year-old with a soft voice talk dirty is funny — the first six times or so, but a whole night of it? The show did do very well in the preliminary ratings, as Deadline Hollywood notes. Final ratings for “SNL” won’t be out for several more days as Nielsen apparently runs numbers about as fast as Betty White runs.

Keeping tabs. One of the biggest challenges of doing this roundup (besides getting up at 5:30 a.m.) is keeping up with all the reporters who routinely have interesting takes on our industry. A few have found new homes, including the Wrap’s Joe Adalian, who is going to New York magazine’s site Vulture; Claire Atkinson, who leaves Broadcasting & Cable for the New York Post; and Peter Lauria, who left the Post for The Daily Beast. I realize the Morning Fix is read as much by other reporters as industry folks and wanted to let the industry know where some of the folks they read are going or have gone. And for all the writers out there, I can’t find everything, so if you have a clip that you think is Morning Fix worthy (and Lord knows I’ve set a high bar), then send it my way.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The FCC has given a green light to the movie industry that could lead to movies premiering in the home when they premiere in the theater. Soft-core adult entertainment is still a staple of pay cable.

— Joe Flint

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After the coffee. Before some snarky remark about the pill’s 50th birthday.

Reigning in Bruckheimer. Legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer is known for sparing no expense, but even he isn’t immune to having his bottom line scrutinized and making cuts like every other director doing a movie with Disney. In a lengthy interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bruckheimer says he is finding ways to make his next “Pirates of the Caribbean” for less, which includes more shooting on land. Don’t get us wrong, Bruckheimer will still spend over $200 million on Jack Sparrow’s next adventure, but he says the budget will be 30% less than the last “Pirates” movie. Bruckheimer says the audience won’t know the difference. My question is since that is what every producer, director and executive says when they make cuts, what does it take for us to notice? And if we never notice, why were they blowing the money in the first place?

Spielberg switches wars. Director Steven Spielberg, who has directed and produced some of the most acclaimed World War II epics, is now looking at World War I and will direct “War Horse,” a drama set in London during the Great War, according to Variety.


“Dinner” for who? The title for a new Steve Carell movie is causing some headaches. The film is called “Dinner for Schmucks.” (Wait, you know what? When I wanted to use that same Yiddish word to describe a certain type of entertainment industry practice, my editor wouldn’t let me use it in a story, but these guys say it is OK.) Anyway, the word technically means a certain part of the male anatomy, although it is usually used these days to describe a chump, if you will. To read more about word and its history, you can go to the New York Times. Mazel Tov.

Is there an app for that? The FTC and Justice Department are looking into requirements that Apple lays on software developers who are making applications for their products, according to the New York Post. Whether that will eventually turn into an investigation remains to be seen, but no one likes it when regulators start nosing around their hard ball practices business.

Lots of drama at NBC. But this time the drama is on screen. NBC has ordered a new J.J. Abrams drama for next season, and Variety reports that three other dramas are likely to be picked up as well. Throw in the usual assortment of “Law & Order” programs and pretty soon the network will have a pretty full schedule. Just to say it again, don’t mess up “The Rockford Files.”

Sirius marketing. Sirius Satellite Radio is reporting subscriber growth, but Paid Content’s Staci D. Kramer thinks the company can do a better job and offers some tips to its chief executive, Mel Karmazin.

Remember in “Sixteen Candles” when the Geek tells Samantha he’s king of the dorks? Actually he didn’t say dorks, but I am not supposed to use that word either. Anyway, the Wrap’s Joe Adalian captures a smackdown between Spike TV President Kevin Kay and G4 President Neal Tiles over who is hotter with young men. Adalian called it a smackdown, I’ll call it a geekfest. To be fair to both, I rarely watch Spike TV and G4. Spike TV did put on one of the worst shows ever in “Blue Mountain State.” And no, I don’t hate the show because it is so crude; I listened to Howard Stern for 20 years. I hate it because it is unfunny and poorly acted. Anyway, kudos to Kay and Tiles to at least engage in a little bit of trash talk in an age when most executives are afraid to step away from corporate babble about brands, marketing and the phrase “at the end of the day.”

Inside the Los Angeles Times: “Fela!” leads the 2010 Tony Award nominations. Legendary actress Lynn Redgrave dies at 67.

— Joe Flint

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A crew of 600 custodians, painters, gardeners and decorators works 365 nights a year to ensure that the 85-acre park meets Walt Disney’s squeaky-clean ideals.


Visitors on Main Street U.S.A. await Disneyland’s opening after its sprucing up by the night crew, upholding founder Walt Disney’s vision of an immaculate land, free of the litter and grime of the outside world. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times)

By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

May 2, 2010

When the last Jungle Cruise boat docks for the night and lights fade to black on Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the real work begins.

At lush Pixie Hollow, gardeners don miner’s headlamps as they begin uprooting stubborn weeds. On Main Street, custodians scrape chewing gum off the sidewalk. And over at Mickey’s Toontown, painters sand and recoat chipped handrails.

Few see it happen, except perhaps for the dozens of feral cats that emerge from their hiding places to prowl the park after hours, stalking rodents.

Welcome to the dark side of Disneyland.

Gone are Mickey and his friends. In their place are about 600 custodians, painters, gardeners and decorators, working to ensure that the 85-acre park meets the squeaky-clean ideals that Walt Disney himself extolled even before he launched the park 55 years ago.

During a recent overnight shift, Disneyland provided a rare glimpse into the work that goes into maintaining the world’s second-most-popular theme park. Though park officials wouldn’t divulge how much money is spent on Disneyland’s overall upkeep, they said most is spent on the night shift.

And although most guests will never witness the after-hours work, theme park experts credit the park’s continued success to its cleanliness and tidy conditions.

“Disney and many other parks recognize that keeping it clean and refreshed, with all of those little details that you don’t notice until they are missing, are important to the park’s success,” said Gene Jeffers, executive director of the Themed Entertainment Assn., a nonprofit organization of designers and builders of theme parks and attractions.

It’s one of the many reasons attendance at Disneyland jumped 8% last year despite the economic downturn, while the crowd numbers dropped at Southern California competitors like Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm, according to a recent estimate.

To keep the park in good order, it takes a crew that works 365 nights a year, toiling under portable floodlights. “It’s a city that never sleeps,” said David Caranci, the manager of resort enhancement and decorating. “There is something always happening.”

And for nearly every nighttime task, there is a specific worker.

Three workers are responsible solely for repairing and replacing the 800 umbrellas, 25,000 chairs and about 7,000 tables in the restaurants and snack bars in Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure Park.

Four certified divers collect submerged trash and make repairs on water attractions like Finding Nemo and the Jungle Cruise.

The work can often be tedious and occasionally bizarre. At the Enchanted Tiki Room, a 17-minute musical show features 225 robotic birds, plants and singing tikis. Patrick Pendleton, the show’s primary mechanic, has seen it more times than he can count.

To make sure the characters work properly, he plays the show repeatedly, watching each closely. “It’s hard to catch everything in one show,” he said.

Sometimes, the jobs require ingenuity, even for some of the more distasteful chores. For example, the Indiana Jones Adventure ride relies on nearly 1,000 black lights that shine on painted mesh screens to create floating ghost images.

But the effect is marred when guests sometimes spit at the ghosts, and the saliva ends up on the screens where it glows under black lights. Because typical cleaning products bleach the screens, David Graefen, the ride’s service manager, said his crew created a special saliva-cleaning solution.

Park workers have also found a resourceful way to remove other unwanted guests — rodents.

Years ago — no one seems to know when — feral cats began to sneak into the park, living among the park’s trees and shrubs during the day. At night, they venture out, and an estimated 200 cats now prowl through Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure Park.

But instead of evicting the cats, Disneyland’s animal wranglers work to control the feline population by spaying and neutering the adult cats and finding homes for all kittens born in the resort. The cats eat at five permanent feeding stations installed throughout the two parks.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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Digital Media Law

Jonathan Handel Esq.

AFTRA is interested in merger with the Screen Actors Guild, but not if the effort is going to fail again. So we learn from an article appearing in the just-mailed Spring 2010 issue of AFTRA Magazine. The union makes clear that any such effort will encompass all of its members, and emphasizes that the goal is “creating one media and entertainment union for all actors, performers and broadcast journalists.”

SAG reacted favorably, with guild president Ken Howard remarking in an email to me, “I’m delighted to see AFTRA’s leadership speak out forcefully about something that I and other SAG leaders so strongly support. Joining SAG and AFTRA to create a single union is essential to performers’ maximizing their power. It’s undoubtedly an idea whose time has come.”

(AFTRA, for the non-laborites among my readers, is the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA share jurisdiction over scripted television programming.)

So far, nothing unexpected. But what is new is the letter’s proposal that the new union have “a structure where no single city or no single category of member—actor, recording artist or broadcaster—is able to unilaterally impose its will on everyone else.” That description could just as well apply to AFTRA’s own current structure. SAG’s governance is quite different, and a simple majority of the Hollywood branch can indeed “unilaterally impose its will on everyone else,” or at least stalemate the rest of the union, absent a Herculean effort to the contrary.

Adopting a more AFTRA-like structure is bound to sit poorly with SAG’s Hollywood-based Membership First Faction. That’s the same stale group that has previously disparaged AFTRA and that caused the year-long contract impasse that cost SAG dearly. However, even non-MF Hollywood members will need to be convinced that a sacrifice in control will bring greater dividends in the form of national cross-category unity. It may not be an easy task.

Meanwhile, also new is the article’s conceptualization of the effort not as merger, but as the creation of “A New Union for a New World,” in the words of the article title. What this means is actually not particularly different from merger, but the point is to underscore the need to create a merged union to increase labor’s power in an age of proliferating platforms.

The article stresses that power should be the main goal, with other factors – elimination of duplicative dues, easing the ability to qualify for pension and health plans, and reduction of redundant administrative costs – treated as secondary. I wouldn’t downplay those secondary advantages quite as much as the article does, but the point is clear.

What’s less obvious from the piece is how creation of a new, merged union would increase union leverage. The article, styled as an open letter from AFTRA elected leadership (Roberta Reardon, Bob Edwards, Ron Morgan, Matthew Kimbrough and Lainie Cooke), notes that on the management side, many of the same companies are the employers of actors, other performers and broadcast journalists. (This is less true of another category of AFTRA member, musicians, since only one of the big four labels, Sony Music, is owned by an audiovisual company.)

However, this is less significant than it seems. The fly in the ointment is that since these different categories are employed under different contracts, each with no-strike clauses, joint strikes would be impossible. Does that mean that the letter is no better than a misaddressed email?

Not necessarily. On the contrary, I think the article is on to something if the goal is to create a larger community of interest among the different categories of member. It will, however, take assertive cross education and meetings between different type of workers – in other words, cross-category community building – in order for this to play out. Even if cross-category strikes are impossible, solidarity picketing and informal pressure may not be – just as we saw when SAG supported the Writers Guild during the latter’s strike. That support ultimately was one key to ending the 100 day labor dispute.

Cross education won’t be easy. The article pictures a commonality of interest, citing “salary reductions and added work responsibilities facing broadcasters, declining quotes and reduced work opportunities for actors or record labels’ imposition of ‘360 deals’ on recording artists” as though they were one and the same thing. However, it takes a bit of digging to identify technology as the common factor, since its manifestations are somewhat different – and, thus, so are the implications for labor.

Is technology a strong enough thread out of which to weave a community of interest? After all, technological change affects nurses, autoworkers and lawyers too, yet that doesn’t mean that these groups have enough commonality to foster solidarity between them. Do media workers? Maybe so, but it will take more fleshed out examples to make the point., and hard work to accomplish the goal

Nonetheless, SAG-AFTRA merger is a smart move for media workers. It is, at the least, a step in the direction of creating a larger community of interest and it addresses the dues, pension and health plans, and administrative costs issues. Moreover, it would make it harder for management to play SAG and AFTRA off against each other in negotiations.

The article alludes briefly to “secondary micro-issues” that helped scuttle merger the last two times it was attempted. In my view, those issues deserve a fuller airing well in advance of a merger attempt. The key issues are merger or revision of the health plans, merger of the pension plans, and the name of the new union.

Merger or revision of the health plans seems doable. After all, companies change health plans with some frequency; why can’t two unions, or a new union, change health plans and converge to the same plan? Merger of the pension plans is a more technical issue, and there probably needs to be an au current study done.

The third issue is the one that makes for a nice political football: should the new union be called SAG, AFTRA, AIMA (a proposal during the last merger attempt), or something different? MF partisans have a clear opinion: “You’ll pry my SAG card from my cold, dead hands” seems to be the thinking. Indeed, some probably intend to be buried with their cards.

Extreme or not, there is a reality here: a SAG card is aspirational, whereas an AFTRA card is not. The buff young trainers at my gym sidle up to me and in a whisper beg to learn how they can get their SAG cards. Do I have any in’s with the staff? Is there something I can do? If only the answer were yes, I’d probably have dates every Saturday into eternity. An AFTRA card, in contrast, might be enough for a free workout on a slow day.

Why the difference? Three reasons, probably:

First, as SAG partisans point out, “SAG” is a brand name with greater name recognition, or brand equity, as trademark experts like to say. With due respect to my AFTRA friends, the SAG partisans are right: clearly, more of the general public has heard of SAG than of AFTRA.

Second, “SAG” symbolizes the glamour of the movies; AFTRA symbolizes the technology of TV. Would you rather be 20 feet tall on a movie screen or 20 inches tall on a TV screen? Leave aside the reality that most people watch most movies on home video anyway, movies still have a cachet that television doesn’t.

Third, anyone can get an AFTRA card if they pay the initiation fee. In contrast, SAG is an exclusive club, albeit one with 126,000 members, two-thirds or more of whom don’t work as performers in any given year. Here again, the reality isn’t nearly as seductive as the perception, but so it goes.

So are we stuck in a world where SAG has to discard its name, which I think it will never do, or AFTRA has to accept “SAG” as the name of a merged union, which is also unlikely? No. The solution is easy, and it’s the same approach that was chosen when two rival union federations, the American Federation of Labor (AF of L) and the Congress of International Organizations (CIO) merged in 1955. The name of the merged organization? The American Federation of Labor and Congress of International Organizations – unwieldy, but no one calls it that. They call it the AFL-CIO. Short and simple.

And so would be the obvious equivalent for SAG and AFTRA: “SAG-AFTRA.” It’s short, easy to pronounce – easier than AFTRA-SAG – and it puts the union with the larger membership and more name recognition first. It’s a name that may be the best hope for a merger – or creation of a new union, call it whichever you prefer.

Will a new name require mental adjustment? Of course. No doubt the transformation of the Screen Writers Guild and Television Writers Guild into the Writers Guild of America required adjustment too. Ditto the mergers and name changes that led to the Directors Guild.

But SAG hardliners, ask yourself this: would you rather adjust to a new name, or do you prefer to deny health care to yourself and your family when you split work between the two unions and fail to meet either one’s threshold for coverage? Do you like paying two sets of dues and watching management play ping pong with two unions?

Sunset Boulevard got it wrong: the pictures – and the salaries – are getting smaller. It’s the companies that got bigger. Maybe it’s finally time for the unions to get bigger too.


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I heard this was happening last week, but I have to admit that I couldn't believe my ears. Why would exhibitors, now that people have been flocking to see movies in record numbers, largely thanks to the soaring popularity of 3-D movies, want to kill the golden goose by raising prices for 3-D films, some by increases as much as 26%?

According to an in-depth story in the Wall Street Journal, a 3-D Imax movie at New York City's AMC Loews Kips Bay will now cost $19.50, up from $16.50. At an AMC theater in Danvers, Mass., a Boston suburb, 3-D ticket prices are going up 20% from $14.50 to $17.50. Ticket prices at local L.A. theaters are also going up, often by at least as two extra dollars a ticket.


According to the Journal, prices will take effect today at many of the biggest theater chains across the country. Why the steep price hike? Exhibitors say that film tickets are a bargain. One exhibition vet that I spoke to said that, adjusted for inflation, ticket prices aren't much different today than they were in the 1980s. He compared that to the ticket prices for sporting events, in particular Major League Baseball and NFL games, which have skyrocketed in recent years, as have tickets for Broadway shows, which now average close to $100 a pop.

On the other hand, the business of overpriced Broadway tickets is hardly worth emulating, since Broadway theaters are littered with the corpses of shows that quickly opened and closed, unable to generate sufficient ticket sales at such steep prices. As for Major League Baseball, the top tickets have skyrocketed in price, but the lower-end tickets have remained relatively inexpensive, allowing for fans to still see a baseball game without having to mortgage their home. At Coors Field in Denver, for example, my wife and I took our son to a game and sat out in the center-field Rockpile bleachers when we had a few hours between plane rides. The total ticket cost? $9. We might have been far away from the action, but it cost us less than you'll pay to see "How to Train Your Dragon" this weekend, that's for sure.

For now, I suspect the prices will be accepted by most moviegoers, since we're still in the "shock and awe" phase of 3-D moviegoing. But if Warners' "Clash of the Titans' " quickie 3-D conversion turns out to be a bust and moviegoers start becoming more wary about the tidal wave of 3-D films rolling into theaters over the next year, I fear that the price hike will create a backlash.

In the long run, I think it's always better to have customers who think they're getting a great deal than customers who think they're being ripped off, even if the ones who think they're being ripped off are paying an extra 20% at the box-office window. After all, the customers who start believing that they're being ripped off are customers who won't be coming back as often.

But what do you think? Are you willing to pay another extra $2 or $3 to see a 3-D movie? Or are you going to be a lot more willing to pick and choose which films you see? Let me know in comments below.

Photo of 3-D moviegoers by Alex Berliner / Berliner Studios/BEImages.

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