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April 11, 2021

Would you pay extra to watch still-in-theatre movies from home?

Part of the fun in going to the movies is complaining. As in, Do I really need to pay $10.50 for a pop? There’s no way this movie is worth fourteen bucks. Look … at the size … of that popcorn.

Istockphoto_3072283-home-theater-system-with-widescreen-lcd-plasma-tv But for all our whining, we take our theatre gouging because it’s the only way. Unless, it suddenly wasn’t.

Testing how much of a premium consumers would pay to avoid the theatre – and perhaps signalling a shift in how we watch new movies – a few Hollywood studios will begin to debut still-in-theatre films on home video-on-demand next month.

Of course, they will cost. According to Variety, Unknown  and the Adam Sandler/Jen Aniston comedy Just Go With It  will be the first in-theatre movies to be available at home, and will run viewers $30 per watch.

The films will show on DirecTV and cable suppliers in the U.S.; no word yet on when, or if, such movies will reach Canadian providers.

Yet that doesn’t mean we can’t break down that price point to see if it’s a worthwhile opportunity. Thirty bucks to rent a flick at home will no doubt scare off a good chunk of viewers – even if it’s a movie still in theatres.

Though, there have been plenty of arguments floating around the Web where people say they’d pay even more  than $30 if it meant being able to stay home.

Certainly, the price is a premium, but if you’re a couple with young kids looking for a date night, for instance, you’re already paying $20-$25 on tickets alone at the theatre. Factor in at least $10 for concession food, maybe a few bucks for parking and – this might be the biggest cost – the need to get a babysitter on top of that, and suddenly $30 starts to look like a steal.

In fact, to further that point, let’s say you’re with a group of friends headed out to the theatre. Even if the price of that movie was $50 to watch at home on-demand, you’re still now in the ballpark of, “Well, that’s expensive, but it’s surely less than we’d pay on tickets with the bunch of us, and we can just order pizza or something, split the cost and still save money all told.” Guys, at least, use this same logic on $60 UFC, boxing or wrestling pay-per-views all the time.

Now, who knows if we’ll ever to get to this point? Unknown  and Just Go With It  will only be made available on-demand because they’re at the tail-end of their theatre runs (that’s the only way studios would agree to release the films ahead of their DVD dates). But it sure seems like we’re headed to a place where, if studios felt so inclined, they could release a movie on-demand at the same time it debuts in theatres, charge $50 per order and a good chunk of filmgoers would consider paying.

If you could, would you pay upwards of $30 to watch a still-in-theatres movie from home?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...