AMC Theatres says it will “pivot” off their Sightline at AMC ticketing scheme, which is currently in a pilot program at select locations in three U.S. markets. The exhibitor says the response to the test was positive with 75% of guests who purchased a Preferred Sightline seat in the middle of the auditorium opting to purchase a seat in the preferred section on subsequent visits despite a slight up-charge. AMC reports that nearly 90% of these guests continued to purchase tickets at AMC Theatres, either within the Preferred Sightline section or elsewhere in the theater.
Meanwhile, despite a modest price reduction, AMC observed little to no increase in patronage of front-row seating. Since competitors in the industry did not follow suit with similar seat-based pricing strategies, AMC decided not to implement the Sightline at AMC program nationwide. Instead, AMC plans to capitalize on the lessons learned and will now shift its focus towards testing an entirely different type of spacious front-row seating concept, featuring extensive seat recline. The company plans to introduce this innovative seating arrangement in select theater locations throughout the United States later in the year 2023.
When AMC first announced the program back in February of this year many moviegoers (and more then a few media outlets) scoffed at the idea wondering why cinema operators didn’t rip the first two rows of seats out of their auditoriums since nobody ever wants to sit there. There are a number reasons why theatre owners are reluctant to lose seats in an auditorium beyond decreased ticket sales, such as a per-seat house allowance on film rental, which is no longer an industry standard and appeasing distributors who always want to be on a screen with as many seats as possible.
While AMC may get ridiculed for abandoning its Sightline initiative at least they were willing to experiment with alternative ways to sell movie tickets, even if, as many predicted, it didn’t necessarily work. Ultimately, AMC proved the old adage that customers are willing to pay for something they want (like a seat in the center of a movie theatre), but aren’t willing to pay a discounted price for something they don’t want (such as a neck craning seat in the first two rows of an auditorium).