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App launch brings cheaper movie tickets to SA

Film

South Australians will be able to access cheaper movie tickets with the launch of a new demand-based-pricing app called Choovie which seeks to help fill empty cinema seats.

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Although none of the large cinema chains operating in SA are yet offering tickets through Choovie, the technology has been picked up by eight independent cinemas, including Adelaide’s Mercury Cinema, the Capri Theatre (Goodwood), Trak Cinema (Toorak Gardens), the Regal Theatre (Kensington Park) and Odeon Star (Semaphore).

App users will be able to buy tickets for between $7 and $18, depending on demand for a particular session.

Choovie – founded by Melbourne couple Sonya Stephen and Shane Thatcher – launched around five weeks ago in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. It integrates into cinemas’ existing ticketing systems, giving them the option to either upload their own pricing or use Choovie’s pricing algorithms.

“The demand profile for cinema is more related to what the movie is, when it is being played, and how long since it has been released, rather than when you buy the ticket,” Thatcher, an economist by training, told InDaily.

“For example, if you wanted to see Star Wars: Rogue One in opening week on a Friday night, it’s unlikely Choovie will be any cheaper, however if you saw it in week four, or late on Wednesday night, or instead you went and saw Tears of an Otter, these would all be lower-demand sessions, so tickets would be cheaper.

“So as long as you don’t want to go to the busiest sessions, you will save money.”

Choovie co-founders Shane Thatcher and Sonya Stephen.

The app represents a big shift in an industry where cinemas generally charge the same price for tickets regardless of the session, film or how long it has been running. On the Choovie website this morning, tickets were available from $10 at SA cinemas for films including The Zookeeper’s Wife, Denial, Hidden Figures and Whiteley.

Gail Kovatseff, director of the Media Resource Centre and Mercury Cinema, said the app could help cinemas remain viable at a time when they were facing tough competition from online streaming and other sources offering either free or cheaper entertainment.

“The dynamic pricing provided by Choovie is an opportunity to produce price points where more people will come back to cinemas, while putting in a floor price which can keep cinemas viable and with sufficient overall return for filmmakers to be paid for their IP [intellectual property] and efforts.

“Cinemas are a really important places to share and explore as a group in real time the most dominant cultural form of our time – screen works.”

Thatcher said Choovie was having discussions with the major chains and was optimistic that more cinemas would eventually embrace the technology.

The number of cinemas on board in South Australia is already ahead of other states at the time of launch.

“South Australians have a reputation for really embracing innovation and new technology, and we are certainly seeing evidence of that in the enthusiastic response we are getting from both the movie fans and cinemas.”

According to Thatcher, almost 10,000 moviegoers in Australia are so far using the Choovie app, which can be downloaded for free through the Apple App store and Google Play.

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