50.1 F
Saturday, May 30, 2020

Opinion: Movie theaters are becoming elitist

// Illustration by Audra Anderson

By Emily Erskine

Picture this, it’s 1975 and the newest Steven Spielberg movie just hit the theaters. It’s a Friday night and you and your friends have a couple bucks to spare, so you go to the cinema, and marvel in the shared experience of consuming a motion picture with 40 other onlookers. 

There is something so special and nostalgic about the smell of popcorn, the taste of the candy, the cushioned seats, the dark theater and the big screen in front of you. 

But nowadays, when looking for something to do on a boring weekend night, it seems almost impossible to justify spending such a huge chunk of change on a movie ticket. 

It has been said many times that the downfall of movie theaters can be attributed to the access of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but I’d have to disagree. While many of us are, in fact, using these conveniences in the comfort of our homes, a lot of us still long for that magical experience. It is my belief that movie theaters would still be thriving if it weren’t for the absolutely ridiculous ticket prices set forth these days. 

What used to be a shared experience that everyone could partake in, has now become, in a way, an elitist privilege. It saddens me. 

As an individual living in residential Bellingham, if I want to see a new movie at the local Regal Cinema, I have to pay nearly $13 for a standard ticket, or nearly $18 for IMAX, not including tax. The current minimum wage is $12 an hour. To view a movie in a theater, which used to be something anyone could dig up some change for, I now have to spend the money I make an hour. For a family of four (adjusting for youth ticket prices and including tax), that is roughly $48, not to mention the outrageous concession prices, which could easily tip the total to close to $100. 

We’ve all heard the stories from our parents. On lazy Saturday afternoons their parents would take them, their siblings and all of their friends to the movies as something fun to pass the time. My mom always tells me she saw “Grease” in theaters at least 10 times. In today’s world, it takes a really special movie to get us out of the house and breaking the bank.

If ticket prices were cut in half, I would be seeing a new movie every single weekend, which to me seems like a no brainer. Nobody is showing up for films, yet prices remain so high. Doesn’t the obvious solution seem to be to lower prices?

In a shaky economy, people’s budget for entertainment is the first to go, but I think it’s the thing we need the most. Films have a history of bringing communities together, providing light-hearted relief during times of war and hardships and educating children at such formative ages. 

I think we could all use a little more movie-going in our lives.


  1. Why don’t you just go to the Pickford? Their tickets are like $8 for students. Expand your horizons outside the large movie chains!

    • Adjusted for inflation, $2.05 in 2018 would be $9.67. Pickford tickets are less than $9.67. According to the National Association of Theater Owners, the average ticket price in 2018 was $9.11. While evening shows at Regal are $13.45, matinees – which play as late as 5:40 p.m. – are only $10.95 for adults – slightly ahead of the national average, and less than the current minimum wage in Bellingham (which is also well ahead of the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25/hour).

      The last two editorials I read in the Western Front have been disappointing and utterly lacking in any facts. The above data took less than two minutes to compile using the Googler. I’m interested in reading the informed opinions of our student journalists, and I urge WF to do better than what amounts to social media complaint posts on their op-ed page.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Behind the systems: WWU Newman Center forced resignation of student employee after learning of same-sex partner

Student says she was told to break up with her girlfriend or quit her job

Behind the systems: Former members frustrated over student’s resignation, double standards for dealing with sexual activity

Former members say rules regarding moral conduct were not applied equally This is...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Latest News

Survey shows Whatcom County’s small businesses are struggling

Outside of The Shakedown in 2018. // Photo by Lili McMurtrey By...

Mental health and the COVID conundrum

People living with mood disorders may find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Social distancing due to...

Mix drink to-go kits are the top buy at La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza

A pizza and Moscow Mule mixing kit from La Fiamma Pizza, who are conducting carry-out services. Displayed on the deck of...

Western professors’ recommended reads

By Macy Adkinson For those seeking adventure in a time of uncertainty, recreational reading...

Bellingham mask sewing effort continues with Molly’s Sewing Machine Service

Sewing machine repairwoman and seamstress Molly Chambers in her downtown Bellingham studio. // Photo courtesy of Molly’s Sewing Machine Service

More Articles Like This