This report from the May 20, 2004 San Jose Mercury (also know that these are some of the smallest screens in the South Bay) is why I will NOT go to see movies at AMC-Mercado in Santa Clara.
SHOCKING SOME, AMC BREAKS THRESHOLD IN SOUTH BAY
By Bruce Newman and Nerissa Pacio
She had come to ``Troy'' to see the face that launched a thousand ships, but now Judith Gray was being asked to launch $10 from her pocketbook into the box office. And she wasn't happy about it.
``I just paid $10 and was totally shocked,'' said Gray outside the AMC Mercado 20. ``It's a totally unreasonable price.''
The $10 movie ticket has arrived in the South Bay, and even though it's only a 50-cent increase, the breaking of the threshold holds a symbolic importance to people -- like the Dow Jones average breaking 10,000 for the first time.
Several large movie houses in New York already charge $10.50, but the top prices in Los Angeles and San Francisco are no higher than most in the South Bay. The Century 20 Great Mall still charges $9.50, and the Capital 16 is $9.25. But the management of Century Theatres, one of the area's dominant chains, declined to comment on when or if it might raise ticket prices.
Jack NyBlom, co-owner of the Cameras, where the top ticket price is $9, believes ``people tend to go to the theater closest to them,'' regardless of price. That may be less true of teenagers, however, who gravitate toward giant shopping complexes.
``Most teenagers go to the movies to socialize, not to really see the movie,'' says Whitney Leonard, 15, of Saratoga. ``So if it's that expensive now, we might as well have our friends over at our house and rent something.''
With revenues from video far exceeding what movies make at the box office, that remains a threat to which chains such as AMC, which is based in Kansas City, must be sensitive.
``We are clearly the most affordable out-of-home entertainment option,'' said AMC spokesman Rick King, ``much more so than sporting events, concerts and live theater events. By those standards, we continue to offer a very, very good value. But . . . we will continually monitor the price-value equation and pay close attention to our guests' behavior and feedback.''
Whether that feedback translates into anything more than grumbling in the ticket lines remains to be seen. In New York City in the late 1980s, then-mayor Ed Koch tried -- unsuccessfully -- to organize a boycott of movie theaters when ticket prices rose from $6 to $7. But it's hard to imagine that, with prices at the gas pump rolling over like a slot machine, a 50-cent increase is going to stop anybody from going to see Brad Pitt in a toga.