If you’ve ever been the only person to buy a ticket for a showing in a movie theater, you know it’s a wonderfully private experience. With the COVID-19 pandemic still sweeping the US, and Hollywood studios reluctant to release nine-figure movies to absent audiences, AMC is offering that experience to anyone. Sort of. If you’re willing to pay.
AMC announced plans to offer private theater rentals last week, with prices starting at just $99. You can’t see any movie you want—there’s a mix of old crowd-pleasers and the few new movies released lately. Here’s the list as of today on AMC’s site:
- 2 Hearts
- The Conjuring
- The Conjuring 2
- The Curse of La Llorna
- Hocus Pocus
- Honest Thief
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Jumanji: The Next Level
- Jurassic Park
- Monsters, Inc.
- The New Mutants
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- The War with Grandpa
But hold on to your wallets, moviegoers: there’s a lot of fine print that goes along with this deal. To start with, $99 is just the starting price for older movies—watching the newest releases like Tenet costs up to $349, depending on your location. And lest you think you can spread it out over your friends and family, there’s a hard limit of 20 people for each showing.
On top of that, “private” comes with some big quotation marks, governed by the existing group sales policy (the sort of thing a school would use for a movie theater field trip). If you want to bring your own food, that’s an extra $250 charge for the group.
If you want to have access to the theater for more than fifteen minutes before or after, it’s an extra $250 again—per half hour. If you want to use the auditorium microphone for some reason, it’s $100. You need a week’s advance notice to cancel your appointment, with a 50% charge if you try to do it after that. At least there’s no extra charge for cleaning, I suppose.
In AMC’s defense, other theater chains that have highlighted their private screenings have some similar fine print. Alamo Drafthouse has the same protracted list of old blockbusters and animated movies, with a flat $150 fee for all of them but a $150 minimum food and drink purchase.
So yeah, between a limited selection of movies and some truly punishing food and drink policies, it seems like hosting a watch party on Netflix might be a much better way to get your social distancing moviegoing on.