Cineplex Movie Ticket Price Increases Blamed On Minimum Wage Hikes

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You paid more for movie tickets if you visited a Cineplex theatre since Saturday.

And one of the reasons is that minimum wages are being hiked right across the country, according to a Cineplex memo posted on Reddit Sunday.

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Cineplex theatre sign. (Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images)

The memo, which is marked "October 1st Box Office Price Inquiries," makes reference to ticket prices going up by anywhere between 22 and 51 cents starting Saturday, Global News reported.

In a section titled "For management information only," it cites minimum wage increases over the past five years as one of the reasons for the price hike.

Cineplex is raising ticket prices across the country in response to minimum wage increase.

"While our average guest price has gone up ... approximately 1.5 per cent each year, minimum wage has increased by as much as 29 per cent," the memo reads.

The biggest increase happened in Alberta, where minimum wage went from $9.40 to $12.20 per hour, a rise of 29.7 per cent.

B.C. came second, with a minimum wage going from $8.75 in 2011 to $10.85 this year, for growth of 24 per cent.

As many as 89 per cent of Cineplex's 13,000 workers make minimum wage, says the company's second quarterly report.

Cineplex spokesperson Sarah Van Lange confirmed to Global that minimum wage increases are a factor in the new pricing structure.

But she also cited other contributors, such as real estate, operating costs and the locations of movie theatres in rural or urban communities.

Revenue boost

Past experience shows that raising ticket prices provides a boost to Cineplex revenue.

The company doubled its earnings in the third quarter of 2012 after it hiked ticket prices in certain regions and saw stronger concession sales, thanks to new food selection and strong promotions.

Last year, RBC Capital Markets analyst Haran Posner said Cineplex could boost its revenue by 1.6 per cent if it raised only weekend ticket prices by 50 cents, The Financial Post reported.

There is a risk involved in raising ticket prices, however. If you make it more expensive to see a movie, that can eat into concession sales, which is where movie theatres make most of their money, the Post noted.

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