SINGAPORE : Expect to pay up to S$10.50 on a weekend to watch blockbusters such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Prices for tickets at all Cathay cineplexes will go up on Thursday, adding to the rash of recent price increases including taxi fares, electronic road pricing and cooking gas.
At a media conference on Tuesday, the cinema operator and film distributor said it was raising ticket prices for films by 50 cents or about 6 per cent due to "escalating prices in goods, services, labour, film rentals and the Goods and Services Tax".
What's more, an additional 50 cents will be tagged on for blockbusters such as Harry Potter and Iron Man.
"The rising costs we have seen over the recent years is something we cannot ignore," said Mr Suhaimi Rafdi, the chief executive of Cathay Organisation Holdings, which has four cineplexes here.
The company had been "struggling to make ends meet" and had to jack up prices to "remain profitable".
Without disclosing details, Mr Rafdi said that the company had made a loss in 2006 and was expecting a "small profit" for last year.
Mr Rafdi said that Cathay would categorise a movie as a blockbuster only if it has an "A-list cast and/or director, a big production budget of more than US$100 million (S$142 million), is a part of a successful franchise (like Spider-Man, Batman and Shrek)" and open on the same day in Singapore as in the United States.
Only around 20 out of the hundreds of films released here would qualify as a blockbuster this year, he said.
So, with Cathay raising its ticket prices, will other cinemas follow suit?
"It's yet to be seen. They would probably want to see if there are any repercussions because this is a bold move on our part," said Mr Rafdi.
When contacted by TODAY, Shaw Organisation, which operates seven cineplexes here, said it would not be following Cathay's lead. "There has been some increase in our cinema operation costs. However, Shaw has no plan to raise its movie ticket prices at this point," Shaw's executive vice-president Mark Shaw told TODAY.
The other major operator, Golden Village, did not respond to TODAY's queries by press time. Moviegoers TODAY spoke to were mixed on the ticket price hike.
"It wouldn't affect the number of movies I watch. Fifty cents is not that much to me," said editor Audrey Wong, 32, who goes to the cinema at least four times a month. "It's still relatively cheaper than going to cinema in Europe or the US."
Marketing manager Irwin Tham, 28, said the hike would not deter him from watching new releases. "watching a movie at the cinema is different from watching it on DVD."
But film student Annette Heitmann, 21, said current ticket prices were already expensive and student movie rates did not soften the blow.
"It's useless because the rates apply during the day, when students have classes.
The price hike will affect students' decisions to visit the cinema as we have other alternatives", such as watching the latest movies on the Internet. - TODAY/il