South Africans now have to pay almost twice as much for movie tickets than they did 7 years ago.
Cinemas are among the businesses hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They lost large amounts of revenue after being forced to close their doors over many months due to strict lockdown measures.
Then, when they were allowed to re-open, they had to abide by strict social distancing measures, which meant they were not allowed to fill up theatres to capacity.
South Africa’s biggest cinema chain, Ster-Kinekor, was forced into business rescue five months after re-opening with strict Covid-19 regulations.
It blamed its financial misfortune on the pandemic and the government’s strict lockdown measures.
Cinema groups like Ster-Kinekor are also facing a direct threat from video streaming services.
A shift in consumer behaviour has resulted in many major film companies opting to release high-profile blockbusters on streaming services, either simultaneously or shortly after opening at the cinema.
This move seems to be paying dividends, with Disney’s release of Black Widow on its Disney+ streaming service being one example of this.
The company charged subscribers $29.99 for access to Disney+ Premier, which allowed them to watch the title at their homes at the same time as it was available in cinemas.
As a result, it managed to rake in $125 million (R1.9 billion) in online revenue.
The dropping popularity of cinemas is not only due to easier access from the couch, however.
Many South Africans simply cannot afford to spend hundreds of rands on a night at the movies.
We compared the latest movie ticket prices with some of the earliest comparable data on prices from 2014 and found that movie ticket prices from South Africa’s two biggest movie theatre companies had surged over the last seven years.
A ticket for a 2D show at Ster-Kinekor’s more affordable “Junction” theatres would have cost you R50 in 2014, compared to R88 at those same theatres in 2021, an increase of about 76%.
An Imax 3D movie ticket now costs R168, about 70% more than the R99 it cost in 2014.
Even prices of tickets at Ster-Kinekor’s cheapest movie theatre — Sterland, in the Pretoria CBD — are much higher than they were before.
While R21 could secure you a ticket for a standard 2D show in 2014, you will now have to cough up R40 — almost double.
The table below shows movie ticket prices for various Ster-Kinekor cinema types. It only includes prices for cinema and screening types available in both 2014 and 2021.
|Ster-Kinekor movie ticket prices|
|Cinema name/type||Screening type||2014||2021|
|Centurion, Musgrave, Northgate, Northmead||2D||R56||R88|
|CapeGate, Blue Route, Bayside||2D||R59||R98|
Nu Metro’s prices have also increased substantially since 2014.
A ticket for a regular 2D show at one of the company’s Tier 2 theatres in 2014 would have cost you R51, while a Tier 1 theatre screening was priced at R62.
Today, a regular 2D show in any standard Nu Metro cinema will set you back R95.
The table below compares the prices of Nu Metro movie tickets between 2014 and 2021.
|Nu Metro movie ticket prices|
|Regular 2D||R51 – R62||R95|
|Regular 3D||R65 – R75||R115|