Richard Hyatt: The high cost of going to the movies

January 7, 2014 

Going to see "Frozen" would have been more appropriate this week, but we bought tickets for the animated film during the holidays.

Our New Year's Day trip was our first time at a theater in a few years, since Winnie the Pooh made its last appearance on a big screen and our lovable toddler didn't make it halfway through the show.

Our days are spent in front of a TV with Doc McStuffins, Princess Sofia and the Bubble Guppies. We sing their theme songs and know their characters by name, just like our 4-year-old.

With two weeks out of school and needing things to do outside the house, we decided it was time for a matinee, figuring Kamryn was old enough to appreciate an afternoon at a theater.

And she was. She enjoyed every minute of a fantasy that had a magical cast of kings, queens and princesses, lovable trolls and a goofy reindeer. Kamryn was mystified. Kaye and I were shocked.

Movies were always a great escape. Now they're a great expense. Our experience cost us more than $55.

Not knowing how crowded it might be, we used gift cards for Fandango, an online service that lets you buy movie tickets before heading to the theater.

That was a mistake. The basic cost of two adults and one child was $24.75. There were carrying charges and because we used gift cards instead of a credit card, our tickets were a flat $30.

Fandango is your only option if you want to buy tickets online in advance since the Carmike Cinema's website sends you there. Fandango also doesn't inform you about cheaper options at other showings.

At the theater, Kaye took care of the concession stand, buying a bag of popcorn, two giant sized soft drinks and some gummy bears. That cost more than $25. No wonder people sneak snacks into the theaters these days.

We chose the 2:50 p.m. showing, figuring Kamryn would be fresher. When the sign in the lobby said it was time, we found three seats on the aisle. Before long the lights dimmed.

Kamryn moved to the edge of her seat, marveling at the big screen and big sound. She was still excited at 3:20 p.m. when the movie we paid to see finally started.

In the interim, we were subjected to advertising for everything from churches to car dealers, not to mention snack bar reminders. I expect previews, but I don't spend good money to sit through ads.

Children take this in stride. Disney Junior had an advertisement before the movie, so they think that is part of the entertainment. Old-timers remember days when it was different.

Kamryn is hooked now. She wants to do that again. Guess I'd better find a part-time job.

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906@knology.net.

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