DealFlicks Bringing Variable Prices to Movies
Suckers pay retail. But what, these days, is a retail price? The concept may be dying. Look at Dealflicks. It brings the demand pricing model to movie theaters, filling seats that would otherwise go unsold.
While most of the U.S. movie industry is based on opening weekend sales, movies do stay in theaters for longer than three days. And most movies stop packing the house pretty quickly. Each of those unfilled seats is a lost revenue opportunity for a theater, and… you know where this is going, right? Just like airfares and seats at sports stadiums, demand-based pricing for movie houses is coming, and it should bring more people to movie theaters than the standard fixed prices.
That’s what Dealflicks does. The service, sold so far to individual and independent movie theater owners, lets those owners put together percent-off deals for movie tickets, as well as packages (movies plus concessions). In addition, the design of theDealFlicks online ticket sale process is clean and contemporary, compared to the standard ticket sale sites, Fandango and MovieTickets.com.
CEO Sean Wycliffe says the business was designed to help theaters compete with Netflix. He believes — and the numbers bear it out so far — that movie goers are price-sensitive after the big blockbuster weekend is over. Lower the prices, and they’ll show.
Dealflicks doesn’t set prices automatically or algorithmically yet. Owners have to manually do it. Automatic pricing will come later this year, Wycliffe says, after the company finishes and ships the mobile apps.
How low will Dealflicks deals go, and how variable will they be? That depends on a few factors, some obvious and one that’s diabolically clever. Obvious: Prices will eventually fluctuate based on sales, or on age of the movie in the question, or on time of day.
But my favorite pricing signal is the one that ties the discount level to the Rotten Tomatoes review score. Bad movie? Low price.
What I fear, of course, is that movie ticket prices will also adjust upwards for big blockbuster weekends, creating a social stratification for what is still, to a large degree, a populist media. But it is probably inevitable.
A lot of prices are already demand- or demographically-based. That is the nature of economics, after all. Mass media has led to massively flat pricing structures, but technology is bringing price-setting back to where it’s been for most of human history: There is no price. There are only deals.
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