AMC Entertainment Drops Controversial Variable Seat Pricing After Pilot Test

AMC Entertainment is dropping Sightline, a controversial variable pricing program for seating it announced earlier this year.

The giant theater chain said today that after a pilot in three locations, it saw little or no increase in patronage of cheaper front row seating, despite a modest price reduction for the seats. The test did show that theater goers who previously sat in the Preferred Sightline section continued to choose Preferred Sightline seating, even with a slight up-charge. But it noted that competitors did not match either initiative, of raising or lowering prices based on the location of the seats.

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“To ensure AMC’s ticket prices remain competitive, the Sightline at AMC pilot program will come to an end at participating locations in the coming weeks, and the initiative will not roll out nationwide.”

The exhibitor will now focus on testing a “different type of spacious front row seating – with extensive seat recline” in select theaters U.S. theaters starting later this year.

The Sightline initiative, unveiled in February, offered seat selections based on sightline of the movie screen within the auditorium — including Value Sightline, Standard Sightline and Preferred Sightline sections. Other entertainment venues for live theater, sports and music do have variable seat pricing but U.S. movie theaters generally don’t and AMC’s public move triggered a wave of criticism.

It’s one of many initiatives CEO Adam Aron has tested out during a slow theatrical recovery post-Covid and a financially shaky time for the world’s biggest chain.

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