"Ticket Buyer Beware"
They say you get what you pay for and that statement rings true in nearly every avenue of consumerism. But it's not happening at your local cinema, is it? There is no difference in the price of a ticket for a film that is very good verses one that is very bad. Every ticket-buying American will pay in the range of $12 to see "The Future" which received a 72% rating on www.rottentomatoes.com. It costs a moviegoer the same price to see "The Change-Up" (23% rating). The cinema seems to be the only place where consumers are not paying for quality. There are no refunds for these faulty products.
But then, who's to say what quality is? Entertainment is subjective. Is there even a chance an organization could be put into place to monitor and execute a "Quality Rating System" that would control movie ticket prices? The Motion Picture Association of America was established in 1922 to create a rating system. The MPAA, however, only controls content in the sense of what is suitable for an audience of a particular age group. It gives the consumer the instant advice: "Hey, Dad. I know you really want to see the new Kevin Smith movie but leave little Billy at home." The MPAA does not have a perfect system and has often been chastised by filmmakers. But for its main purpose (informing ticket buyers what kind of language or subject matter a film contains) it basically does the job.
I propose the same kind of system be established for a film's quality. Just as the MPAA has G, PG, R and NC-17, shouldn't there be a group that can determine if a film is deemed good enough to charge the regular price of admission? It could be made up of a wide variety of film critics and scholars. If a movie is terrible it will only cost $3 a ticket. In a time when movie ticket prices have considerably gone up, this is just the change moviegoers need. During test screenings, participants can also circle a number from $1 - $15, indicating how much they would actually pay to see this film. If the number is too low, the studios might rethink their choice in casting Adam Sandler.
Perhaps a special Motion Picture Critics Association just might change the way Hollywood makes movies and the way movie-goers pick a flick. Why shouldn't there be regulations on quality? If a studio releases "Sucker Punch" and skates by on its poor quality of story, character and any real entertainment value, the price of admission should be much lower and the studio behind it should stand to lose money. If a studio loses money because their movie sucks, maybe they'll start making better movies. Just as they control the content based on MPAA standards, they might start controlling the quality based on MPCA standards. And if an audience member is dumb enough to pay money to see a remake of "Arthur", at least they'll only be out a few bucks.