Average price of a movie ticket sees record hike in 2022

Gala premiere of
Gala premiere of "Melchior the Apothecary: The Ghost" in Tallinn on Monday. August 15, 2022. Source: Andres Raudjalg

The average price of a ticket to go see a movie went from €5.93 to €6.99 last year for the fastest annual growth to date. While the price advance is due to the cinema market bouncing back, Apollo Kino said that customer behavior also has an effect on the price.

The effect of the coronavirus pandemic on Estonian movie theaters is clear: neither attendance nor sales revenue have bounced back, even though the number of new films reached the pre-Covid level last year. The average price of a movie ticket grew by almost €1 on year – a hike that used to take five or six years.

To compare ticket prices, we looked at Estonia's largest movie theater, the Coca-Cola Plaza, which Apollo Kino obtained from Forum Cinemas last May. We compared prices from last May to those in February:

The average price of a movie ticket has grown by €1.5 over the last eight months, which increases to over €2 for LUXE theaters. The hike has been somewhat more modest for children's tickets in normal theaters but is also around €2 for LUXE theaters. Apollo Club membership shaves 10 percent off the price of a ticket.

Apollo Kino manager: It made no sense to continue subsidizing tickets after customers returned.

Kadri Ärm, executive manager of Apollo Kino, said that ticket prices shouldn't be compared to the 2021 level as it was a very difficult time for cinemas. "The aftereffects of [Covid] restrictions could still be felt, there was uncertainty, few movies. People were alienated from the habit of moviegoing and theaters scrambled to keep doors open and bring people in," she explained, adding that cinemas offered cheaper tickets on some days, as well as discount campaigns and promotions a la "every third ticket free of charge."

Now that the business is bouncing back, it makes sense theaters no longer have to offer freebies or pursue as many aggressive campaigns, Ärm said, emhasizing that the average price hike is also down to customer behavior. "Our more expensive and more comfortable Star seats sell much better than Club seats, which also contributes to a higher average ticket price. Therefore, we cannot really conclude that the base ticket price has been gradually hiked. In truth, larger and comfier seats have become increasingly popular, which trend seems to be continuing."

The executive manager also said that the situation today where Apollo Kino has all but cornered the Tallinn market after the Kosmos movie theater closed and Coca-Cola Plaza moved into their hands doesn't really make it possible to hike the price indefinitely. "Movie theaters are part of entertainment, and the field of entertainment is subject to competition. People have plenty of ways they can spend their free time. Access to films, music and other types of content has been made so simple and convenient," she said, adding that movies compete with all manner of visual-verbal forms of art and entertainment. "It is clear that if the ticket becomes too expensive, people will simply prefer other ways to spend their free time and theaters will be empty."

Small cinemas trying to keep prices down

Ivar Murd, executive manager of the small Sõpruse Cinema, said that they hiked the price of a ticket by €1 last spring. "We did it when it became absolutely clear that we were not going to make it to year's end with the current level of support, which has not changed for six years, much like in the case of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM). Murd said that the theater has tried to maintain that price level since then to make sure the best art house movies in the world would still be available to people in all social groups.

The basic ticket costs €7 during the workweek and €8 during the weekend at Sõprus Cinema. Murd emphasized that Sõprus remains the cheapest movie theater in Tallinn.

Artis Cinemas charges €6.6 for a base ticket on workdays and €7.50 at night, which rises to €8.20 during the weekend. Head of marketing for Artis Raiko Puust said that the theater hiked their ticket prices by €0.5 last fall. "The forecast for 2023 depends on the number of moviegoers. Should we not see a massive uptick in the number of visitors, growing expenses could create the need to hike prices further."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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