Entries in Movies (20)


Cocktails and a Movie? Company Offers Luxury Theaters for the Masses

Peter Barg for Wehrenberg Theatres(NEW YORK) -- With households able to watch movies on small and large screens in private homes, at least one movie theater company says it has found the secret sauce in the luxury theater market.

Wehrenberg Theatres’ first “five star lounge” opened in 2010 in St. Louis.  Featuring plush, heated leather recliners, cocktails, gourmet food and digital menus at their fingertips, theatergoers 21 and older get to enjoy smaller crowds -- about 30 or 40 -- for a slightly more expensive price: $16 for an evening movie, as opposed to the $10 average price in Wehrenberg’s traditional auditoriums.  For matinee shows, the luxury price is $12, compared to the price for regular auditoriums, which is around $7.

Wehrenberg is constructing its fourth and fifth five star lounges in its St. Charles 18 Cine that will open in the St. Louis metropolitan area in April or May.  That theater will share the luxury amenities that its sister theaters have, including satin waterfall curtains.

Another one of the company’s theaters in the metropolitan area, Des Peres 14 Cine, was one of the favorites among St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters who reviewed the growing local market of luxury theaters.

“Little touches like a discrete, in-table call button for servers and an LED light on menus make this dine-in experience a standout,” wrote Evan S. Benn of the Post-Dispatch.

Kelly Hoskins, vice president of marketing for the company, said it’s nearly impossible to find a manufacturer that makes waterfall curtains in the U.S. these days.  But the 106-year old company insisted on finding a piece of “old vaudeville.”

“My boss insisted to find a company to have the feeling of intimacy,” she said.

She added that the theaters “strike a balance” between a family-friendly environment in the traditional auditoriums and luxury in the premium auditoriums for those 21 years old and over.

“We call it a luxury theater for date night and special occasions,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


How to Save Money on Family Movie Night

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Treating yourself or the family to a night of entertainment can be a pricey venture, but there are ways to keep more money in your wallet.

The average American family spends $1,367 per year on fees and admissions. Spending on entertainment defined more broadly tops $4,086, which is a fair chunk of change.

For the Alena family of Princeton, N.J., movie night has become a regular family event.

“Every time there’s a new kid’s movie, we’re there within the opening week,” said Minda Alena.

But when you add in concession stand snacks and dinner, those blockbusters can turn into huge budget busters.

“It can get very expensive,” said Bill Alena. “Well over $100.”


To find out how to save on your next outing, ABC News enlisted family finance expert Farnoosh Torabi to pay the Alena family a visit, armed and ready with some real money secrets.

1. Buy your movie tickets in bulk, in advance.

You don’t have to stand in line. Buy your tickets online at the movie chains themselves or at warehouses for much less. On a recent trip to Costco, ABC News found discounted movie tickets priced at $15.99 for two people. Based on the Alena families’ local box office price, that saves their family 20 percent.

2. Maximize your club memberships.

Many theatres offer membership affiliation discounts that can add up to big savings. For example, one theatre offered 30 percent off with an AAA membership. But you have to call AAA.

3. Buy unwanted movie gift cards for a steep discount.

Gift cards can be used for tickets and concessions. Experts told ABC News that is where markups can be upwards of 1,000 percent. To find discounted gift cards, visit or

The Alena family spends roughly $2,600 a year on movies, including snacks and dinner. By taking advantage of some of these tips, ABC News’ experts estimate they can save upwards of 30 percent, or $780.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Movie Ticket Prices Hit New High in 2012

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Huge box office hits in late 2012 like Skyfall, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey helped drive the average ticket price for the year to $7.96.

The figure is a new all-time high, but it is up only three cents from 2011, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners, reports 

The growth rate, at 0.4 percent, is near 2011′s 0.5 percent but it doesn't compare to the even larger growth in previous years, including 5.2 percent in 2010, 4.5 percent in 2009, and 4.4 percent in 2008.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


At Movies, CineMode App Makes It Pay to Be Polite and Stop Texting

Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- “Shh!”

“Put your phone away. ”

“Excuse me, can you please turn off your phone?”

We’ve all done it once, twice, a hundred times before. You’re sitting in a dark movie theater when, minutes before the film begins, you have a sudden urge to check your phone, update your Facebook status, or text your friend in the lobby to get you a large popcorn with extra butter.

It’s a growing issue at theaters across the nation — movie goers texting during a movie.

Now, a smartphone app is enticing repeat theater texters by offering a reward for switching their phones to vibrate.

CineMark, a major operator of movie theaters, is launching a feature on its app called CineMode.  It encourages movie lovers to stop clicking “Send” in a movie theater by rewarding them with digital coupons directly to their smartphone.

The app is available for download on iPhones and Android smartphones.

After smartphone users download the app, they will be asked to launch CineMode. A brief message will flash on the theater’s screen just before the movie begins. If CineMode is in full use, the screen on your smart phone will dim instantly and customers will be prompted to turn the phone’s volume to vibrate mode.

If moviegoers remain in CineMode for the entire length of the film, they will earn a digital coupon through the app. Users can find their coupons in the ‘Rewards’ section.

Each time moviegoers watch a movie at a CineMark theater, they’ll earn rewards while being courteous to those around them. It’s a win-win.

“At Cinemark, our number one priority is the comfort of our guests,” said James Meredith, Cinemark’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications in a press statement. “It is important to develop tools that maximize and preserve the movie-going experience. For a while, our customers have asked us to design an alternative and creative solution that addresses texting and cell phone issues in our auditoriums.”

According to a recent Pew Research study, 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cellphone. Of those, 53 percent own smartphones.

Of those 53 percent, a whopping 96 percent send text messages. Just how many of those are texting inside a movie theater is tough to say.

Regardless, this new app proves it pays to be courteous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Summer Movie Turnout Likely Lower Than Last Year

Warner Bros. Pictures TM/© DC ComicsPhoto by Ron Phillips(NEW YORK) -- While blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises brought in record-sized audiences, this summer may be seeing lower attendance levels than last year, in part due to the shootings in Aurora, Colo., The Hollywood Reporter said.

According to preliminary estimates, there were 533.5 million tickets sold this summer domestically, down 4 percent from last year. The lowest attendance came two summers ago, with 534.4 tickets sold.

Marvel and Disney’s The Avengers broke box office opening weekend records with about $200.4 million grossed in its opening on May 4.

People are still seeing the film around the world, which completed Labor Day weekend with a worldwide gross of $1.5 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter said Dark Knight Rises and a number of family films took a hit after the shooting in Auorora, Colo. At a midnight showing of the film on July 20, accused shooter James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theater.

Still, Dark Knight Rises earned $433.2 million through Labor Day weekend domestically, which is a strong figure but significantly less than what the previous Batman film, The Dark Knight, earned: $533.2 million.

The film has had strong overseas earnings, grossing over $1 billion worldwide through Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Netflix Most-Used, Least-Liked Streaming Service

Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Netflix is by far the biggest video streaming service, but users like it the least of all the services covered in Consumer Reports survey out today.

Just over 8 in 10 in the CR survey who used a streaming service the previous month subscribed to Netfilx, but  rival services Vudu, Apple iTunes, and Amazon Instant Video all scored higher in overall satisfaction in the consumer group’s first ratings of video services.

“Our survey revealed that a healthy selection of titles is one of the biggest factors in overall satisfaction with video services, which is why disc rental services and pay-per-view streaming services scored the highest in our Ratings,” Jim Willcox, senior electronics editor, Consumer Reports, said in a statement.

“Streaming video content directly from the Internet is emerging as the preferred choice for video viewing,” according to the magazine. “Fifty-two percent of the 15,277 subscribers polled said they used a streaming video service in the previous month, compared to 47 percent who saw a movie at a theater, 43 percent who rented a DVD or Blu-ray disc, and 32 percent who used their cable provider’s video-on-demand service.”

Netflix users griped about its limited selection of movies, especially new ones. Fewer than one in five survey respondents said that they were highly satisfied with the unlimited-use services’ choices of titles including those who rated Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.  Pay-per-view streaming services including Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu did get high marks from more than 60 percent of users, the group said.

“Netflix’s disc-by-mail service and independent video stores were judged to have a more satisfying selection of titles, including current ones, than even the best streaming services. Redbox kiosks were neck-and-neck with Netflix and independent stores in overall satisfaction, but fell short on selection. Survey respondents were not as impressed with Blockbuster stores, Blockbuster Express kiosks or Blockbuster Total Access disc-by-mail,” according to CR.

The full report is available online at

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"The Avengers" and the Power of the Throwback ANGELES) -- Hollywood's new box-office king, The Avengers, demonstrated the power of the throwback film ahead of several other films that will provide a blast from the past this summer.

The Avengers not only shattered the previous opening record with $200.3 million grossed during its debut weekend, its global opening in one week has brought in more than its recent film forerunners, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, brought in their entire theater releases, according to box office figures.

Matt Patches,'s movie editor, said he wasn't surprised that the film was "huge," describing The Avengers as an "endeavor that was five years in the making."

"Once Iron Man was a hit in 2008, we knew The Avengers was going to be big because Marvel put everything into it," he said.

Each forerunner film built anticipation for The Avengers.

"They were almost like promotions for The Avengers. The films created the biggest trailer you've ever seen," he said.

Patches said the film had a broad appeal that was, however, unexpected, given that comic books "are still a 'geek' medium."

Iron Man 2, the previous highest grosser of the franchise had opening sales of $128.1 million and a total gross of $312.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo, dwarfing its prequel debut of $98.6 million. But Iron Man's gross was higher at $318.4 million.

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows film, to be released on Friday, is based on a 1966-1971 gothic soap opera that aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. Burton's last film, Alice in Wonderland, is a throwback of a different kind. That had an opening weekend debut of $116.1 million in 2010, the highest that weekend.

This year's superhero genre, ever-present in the summer blockbuster set, may give Disney, the studio for The Avengers, reason for concern. (The Walt Disney Co. is the owner of ABC News.)

The Amazing Spider-Man will be released on July 4 and The Dark Knight Rises will follow on July 20. Both franchises had films that performed notably well overall, giving reason for proceeding versions.

The last Batman film, The Dark Knight, from 2008, still has the no. 3 spot in all-time opening box-office. Directed and produced by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight had an opening weekend debut worth $158.4 million, and a total gross of $533.3 million, Box Office Mojo reports.

This year's The Hunger Games follows with an opening weekend debut of $152.5 million. Columbia Pictures' Spider-Man 3 follows at no. 5 with a weekend opening of $151.1 million. That film grossed $336.5 million after it was released in May 2007.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Movie Ticket Sales Increased in Foreign Markets Last Year

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Movie ticket sales were on the rise outside the U.S. last year.

A report issued by the Motion Picture Association of America finds that international ticket sales increased by 7 percent from the year before with $22.4 billion in revenue, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  Japan was the highest-grossing nation outside of North America with $2.3 billion.

When also taking into account the North American markets, there was only a 3 percent increase in ticket sales worldwide with $32.6 billion.  In 2011, North America grossed $10.2 billion -- a 4 percent decline from the previous year.

Last year, 1.28 billion movie tickets were sold at the domestic box office, the lowest total in a decade.

The good news for Hollywood: the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners says that U.S. box office totals are up nearly 14 percent to date from a year ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michigan Man Sues AMC Movie Theater Over Concession Prices

Mario Tama/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- A Livonia, Mich., man has filed a class action lawsuit against his local AMC movie theater, alleging the establishment grossly overcharges for its snacks and is seeking a refund for customers.

Joshua Thompson filed the suit in Wayne County Circuit Court because he “got tired of being taken advantage of,” his lawyer, Kerry Morgan of Wyandotte, told the Detroit Free Press.  “It’s hard to justify prices that are three and four times higher than anywhere else.”

In the suit, Thompson claims he used to take his own snacks into the theater until it banned the practice.  The suit states that Thompson paid $8 for a soda and packet of Goobers at the theater the day after Christmas, but that he paid less than $3 for those products at a restaurant and drug store that were nearby, the Free Press reported.

Thompson’s suit accuses the theater chain, American Multi Cinema, of contravening the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by overcharging for concession.  In addition to the refund, it seeks a penalty against AMC and any other relief from the court.

Legal experts don’t think Thompson will be successful.

AMC did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Moviegoers Going to the Movies Less Now than Before Recession

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Don’t tell the people behind the upcoming Academy Awards, but a new survey finds Americans not going to the movies as often as they did before the recession hit.  According to a new survey, 55 percent of respondents who go to the movies report that they are going less frequently now than they did before the economy went south.  In addition, 61 percent of U.S. adults said they rarely or never go out to the movies.

One factor may be the cost.  According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average movie ticket price rose to a new record high in 2011 -- $7.93.  For a family of four, that’s nearly $32, not counting snacks.

The survey found moviegoers coming up with a variety of tactics to save money at the theater:

  • Go to a matinee instead of an evening show – 62 percent
  • Bring my own snacks and/or drinks – 38 percent
  • Use coupons to save on ticket costs and/or concession stand purchases  - 32 percent
  • Pay for one movie, but sneak into additional movies – 6 percent

Additional survey findings:

  • 51 percent of respondents said they rent or buy movies on DVD or Blu-ray.
  • 34 percent said they stream movies, with 25 percent of those streaming with a paid online provider such as Netflix or Amazon and 18 percent streaming online for free. An additional 30 percent said they watch movies on demand from a cable or satellite provider.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, and involved 2,217 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio