AMC Made the Move That Could Kill Movie Theaters

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readMar 7

A trip to the movies may feel very different in the coming years. AMC finally pulled the trigger and started pricing movie tickets based on where you sit.

The program is called Sightline, and it’s already been rolled out in select markets, but AMC plans to have it implemented at all US cinemas by the end of 2023. Fundamentally, it’s a system that allows the company to charge customers more for sitting in seats with the best view of the screen.

The timing of this decision seems a bit peculiar. On one hand, the box office took a hard hit from the pandemic. On the other, we are seeing successful movies get released, some bringing in billion-dollar hauls.

So, movie tickets are about to get more expensive and the customer experience is about to get more complicated. But, for moviegoers, the question may not be why AMC is making this decision. Rather, they’ll ask when the movie will be available to stream.

Why change things now?

The past three years haven’t been kind to movies. According to Comscore, domestic box office sales in the US were $11.88 billion in 2018 and $11.4 billion in 2019. Flash forward to 2020, and that number was $2.2 billion. It climbed to $4.5 billion in 2021, then $7.5 billion in 2022. Clearly, the movie industry is rebounding, but the decline in sales will undoubtedly have an impact on business.

This type of box office may become a thing of the past. Photo via Fortune.

It may seem that the pandemic forced cinemas to change, but we saw the tides begin to turn prior to 2020. Likely, it accelerated theaters toward an inevitable shift. Even before cinemas were being forced to shut down, streaming services were paying big bucks to get exclusive rights to movies — like the multiple nine-digit deals Netflix made with Adam Sandler to acquire original content.

Films with smaller budgets can go straight to streaming services and earn a profit without the gamble of ticket sales. For other movies —the blockbusters like Avatar 2 or Top Gun: Maverick — a straight-to-streaming release would only put a ceiling on massive potential. So these movies need to rely on theatrical…

Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions