AMC Axes Preferred Seat Upcharge

The movie theater company says it will test another type of front row seating option instead.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
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Imad Khan
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Red AMC logo perched on glass window of theater

AMC Theaters ditches its Sightline preferred seat upcharge. 

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AMC Theaters is ending its Sightline preferred seating trial because it didn't affect consumer behavior, the company said Thursday. This means that in the select theaters where Sightline was being tested, all seats will now be the same price, regardless of position. 

Sightline gave customers the option to pay slightly more to sit in the middle seats, often considered the best seats when viewing a movie. The front rows, however, were slightly discounted. AMC found that three out of four guests who had previously sat in those middle seats continued to do so, paying the upcharge. The theater company didn't see more people sitting in the front rows, despite the discount. 

AMC said it will end the Sightline trial in an effort to remain competitive and that it also didn't see other chains emulate the model. AMC, however, said it'll try a new program with select theaters in the coming weeks. In an effort to get people to sit in the front row, the company said it'll offer spacious front row seats with "extensive seat recline" later this year. 

AMC Theaters didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment. 

Movie theaters are still struggling to attract audiences as the pandemic changed viewing habits for millions. Streaming services now offer robust catalogues and will quickly bring in new movies weeks after premiering in theaters. People's home theater setups have also seen great innovation, with vibrant displays and sound setups that can be had at more affordable prices. It doesn't help that the average movie ticket price has been steadily increasing during the past two decades, with Dolby and IMAX options jumping above $20 in some markets. 

The changes in consumer behavior continue to put pressure on chains like AMC. In earnings results posted earlier this year, AMC saw a 15% drop in fourth-quarter revenue. Big budget movies have also been struggling at the box office, with titles like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and The Flash underperforming expectations. The ongoing writers and actors strike also means that stars aren't promoting new releases, like Barbie and Oppenheimer. 

For cost-conscious consumers, there are some options to continue seeing movies in theaters at lower prices. MoviePass is back, allowing you to see multiple movies with a single membership. AMC Stubs A-List, Regal Unlimited, Cinemark Movie Club and Alamo Season Pass all offer options to watch multiple movies for one price.