An Australian movie theater chain said it has ended “dynamic pricing” trials on Wednesday after Redditors complained of “price gouging.” Last week, an anonymous user uploaded an internal memo from Village Cinemas describing concession stand increases during busy periods. After images of the memo circulated online, Village Cinemas announced that all pricing trials had been stopped—weeks before the scheduled end of the test period.
Essentially, dynamic pricing raised concession stand prices between 50 cents and a dollar after 5:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays, usually the theaters’ busiest nights. Redditors lambasted the practice, pointing out that this would only encourage more people to opt for a night-in streaming rather than a visit to a Village theater.
In addition to being annoying, Redditors noted there’s really nothing “dynamic” about the new pricing model. As one user wrote, “I don’t think this is even ‘surge pricing,’ it’s just a predetermined uplift in prices and not driven by demand. What if it’s a quiet night? It’s a bit cheeky to call this dynamic.”
Village Cinemas provided the following statement to Gizmodo, weirdly doubting the authenticity of the leaked memo while also acknowledging that an earlier “dynamic pricing” experiment was a failure:
Village Cinemas acknowledges that some documents that appear to contain internal pricing information for cinema tickets have been posted on social media and in turn via the press. We are currently investigating the authenticity of these documents. Village Cinemas confirms that we were running pricing variation trials over the summer period which we appreciate may have caused angst and concern to our customers, we can now confirm that all pricing variation trials have been stopped effective immediately. There are still plenty of great deals to enjoy during this time like family passes which offers generous savings. We’ve also recently introduced a variety of exciting concept cinemas around Victoria, including Vjunior and 4DX, so pricing will vary depending on the experience. Village Cinemas is committed to providing customers with value via a range of attainable prices and promotions for the variety of experiences and concepts available. We are constantly working on improving and optimizing this model. Our goal is to ensure movie going remains as an affordable entertainment choice for our guests.
One Reddit user, writing in a thread after the pricing ended, summed it up best: “Your business is facing challenges from disruptive technology everywhere, so your solution is to put UP prices.....WOW.”