Theater Chain Selling Movie Ticket/Digital Download Bundles

Part of what makes the cost of a movie so unattractive to some consumers is the fact that you can only see the movie once (unless you go hopping from theater to theater, which we most certainly would never, ever advocate as a good way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon). Meanwhile, for about the price of two tickets, you can own an HD digital copy of the movie to watch repeatedly. That’s why one theater chain is selling bundles that combine movie tickets with digital downloads at a later date.

Unfortunately for those readers in the U.S. who might be intrigued by such an offer, Cineplex, the chain involved in this deal, is only selling these SuperTickets in Canada. But the idea is coming to America — at least in test form — so it’s a concept whose merits are worth considering.

Theater owners make money from the home video market they are generally cut out of, while the movie studios hope that bundled movie/download package might tempt people to see the movie in theaters, knowing they’ll also be able to watch it at home when it’s available for download. The studios have been doing this with DVD and BluRay products for years, packaging free download codes inside the cases for the discs.

But even those film buffs currently living in America’s Hat might not be tempted to buy into Cineplex’s SuperTicket program, as the Wall Street Journal reports these passes cost more than twice the price of a single ticket. A consumer who is already reluctant to pay to see a movie in the theater would probably not want to spend double that amount for a future download of a movie she hasn’t even seen yet.

This was the lesson learned by Cineplex, which shifted from requiring that the full SuperTicket price be paid in full to giving moviegoers 48 hours after the film to decide whether to upgrade and receive the digital copy.

There are certain franchises with built-in fan bases where audience members may be willing to ante up for the assurance that they will be able to access the download as soon as it’s available. And just about anything that a young child would want to see at the theater will likely be played ad nauseum on your home computer or TV a few months later.

Cineplex also says it sold more SuperTickets to sequels, like Kick-Ass 2 and Smurfs 2, presumably because consumers go in with a more settled expectation of what they are buying.

Warner Bros. tells the Journal that it tried the SuperTicket thing in Canada with the release of Pacific Rim, and that it will be trying it out in the U.S., perhaps as soon as the end of this year.

Paramount also tested selling $50 “mega tickets” to screenings of World War Z in five U.S. markets earlier this year, but this was more of a super-fan kind of bundle — with early screenings of the movie, posters, branded 3-D glasses, and digital download included in the price — than it was an attempt to lure reluctant TV-watchers from their living rooms.

One Ticket to Rule Them All [WSJ.com]