Dynamic pricing comes to Australian cinemas

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Day and Date Down Under

I was sitting in a large cinema a few days before the Academy Awards watching La La Land. There were only six people in the cinema, including me. So it came as no real news to me that the average cinema seat occupancy rate in Australia is 16%. An Australian couple, Shane Thatcher and Sonya Stephen, feel that the figure can be improved by using a pricing scheme similar to hotels and airlines, where patrons can get movie tickets at lower prices for the less busy sessions.

The pair developed the Uber-style app Choovie so that cinemas can use dynamic pricing. They feel if they can lift the average cinema occupancy rate to 17 to 18%, both cinemas and patrons will benefit. Cinemas set the lowest and highest price at which they will sell a ticket. Choovie's patrons can then choose to see a film at a possibly lower price than if they turn up at the cinema.

The app was trialed at the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn in December last year and expands to around 180 cinemas on March 27. There are some tests going on in the U.S. for similar schemes, but the pair hope to take Choovie international if everything works out. They charge the cinemas A$1.25 per ticket sold.

Seaside Pictures opened 107 years ago, the second purpose-built cinema in Wellington, New Zealand. It has long since stopped screening films and has been born again as a tearoom, a surf shop and a café. Now it has a totally new life. The shell of the cinema remains intact, but it is now a beautiful family home right on the seaside, an unusual new use for a cinema.

Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine have been getting plenty of publicity in the South Island of New Zealand as they film A Wrinkle In Time for Disney. The story revolves around a 13-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother as they go searching through a new dimension for their father. The movie is based on the 1973 book by Madeleine L’Engle, which was previously filmed for Disney TV in 2003. A 2018 release is planned.

No report from Down Under is complete without news of a new shark film. The Australian feature Cave Dive has been purchased for release in at least 20 countries including the U.S. In this thriller, three American tourists come to South Australia to try the high-adrenaline experience of cage diving in the heavily shark-infested waters off the coast. Of course, something goes wrong and the three hapless tourists are menaced by a few Great White Sharks. Mark Fell, Megan Peta Hill and Joel Hogan star in the film, which is due for release this year.