A day after George Lucas predicted that going to the cinema would soon cost “50 bucks”, Paramount Pictures is offering audiences in five US cities the chance to buy an unprecedented $50 (£32) “mega ticket” to its new blockbuster, the Brad Pitt zombie epic World War Z.
Multiplexes in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego and Irvine are offering the tickets, which include the chance to see the film on 19 June, 48 hours before its official US opening.
The current average price of a movie ticket in the US is $8 (£5). However, buyers of the World War Z “mega ticket” will be entitled to several special extras, including a free HD digital copy of the film after its home video release, a pair of custom 3D glasses, a limited edition poster, and one small serving of popcorn.
Speaking at the University of Southern California on Wednesday, Lucas and fellow director Steven Spielberg predicted a sea change in the film industry, including fewer cinemas, higher ticket prices for blockbusters, and the exodus of lower-budget films from cinemas to television. “What you’re going to end up with is fewer theatres,” Lucas said. “Bigger theatres, with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies is going to cost you 50 bucks, maybe 100, maybe 150.”
World War Z has taken an unconventional path to the big screen. The release of the troubled $200m production was delayed by six months while its unsatisfactory climax was rewritten and reshot, at an additional cost of $20m. Yet early reviews for the movie, in which Pitt plays a UN worker struggling to contain a global zombie pandemic, have been positive, suggesting the risks may pay off. Brad Grey, the head of Paramount Pictures, told Vanity Fair: “It really needed work, and work got done… I think it was well worth it.”
G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which went through a similar process of reshoots, went on to gross a healthy $360m following its eventual release in March.