Forget rising ticket prices, where have all the showtimes gone?

With the economy the way it is, everyone has been feeling the pinch. For the average consumer, and business owner alike, this means cutting costs and doing whatever they can to make an extra buck. If you’ve been to the movies any time in the last year, you’ve probably noticed a pretty drastic rise in the cost of a movie ticket. While this has had many people up in arms, I’ve caught on to an even worse trend. Theater owners everywhere have been cutting back on their operating hours and even dropping all of their morning showtimes.

I know it’s a little cliché to use the phrase “back when I was a kid…” (and also a little absurd considering I’m only 27 years old), but back when I was a kid theaters opened at 9:30am and by 10:00am you could be watching the latest release to your little hearts content. I loved it, too. I’d be lined up outside the theater on opening day, get in and see the film before all the big crowds, and you could exit the theater knowing you still had a full day ahead of you. In fact, back when the first Matrix sequel came out, a coworker and I were able to squeeze in an opening day showing and still put in a full 8 hour day at the office (with the bosses permission of course). Back then, seeing a film didn’t mean sucking up the majority of the afternoon.

Unfortunately, the days of early showtimes are gone. At least that’s the case for pretty much every theater in my area. In fact, a quick look at my local theater’s showtimes listing and there isn’t a single showing starting before 1:10pm. That’s a full three hours later than what it used to be. Now I understand that for the theater this translates to three hours less wages needed for employees, three hours less utilities charges, and a bunch of other costs reductions, but they’ve got to realize that it also means a loss in ticket sales.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only person who likes to get up and see a film early in the morning. And even if I am in the minority, the fewer showings you have, the fewer people can see it, period. It’s not hard to understand. There are a lot of scheduling things that go into a person’s decision to head out and see a film in theaters. Limiting the number of showtimes available to them just lessens their options and increases the chance they’re just going to wait for the DVD release.