Taken from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2013/12/17/i-paid-33-to-see-anchorman-2/
As you hopefully remember, Paramount tried out their “mega ticket” idea withWorld War Zback in June, premiering the film two days early in a handful of markets for a $50-per-ticket package that included concessions discounts and a digital download of the film once it became available via VOD. While Paramount refused to offer hard numbers, they claimed almost complete sell-outs. My theater wasn’t just sold out, but pretty much every seat outside of the first three rows was occupied. So yes, there is clearly a market for this kind of high-end sneak preview. I can only imagine how much money Disney could get away with charging for a two-day advance sneak of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Obviously not everyone is going to fork over premium prices for a film that can be seen for $6 for a morning matinee a couple days later, but as long as supply is limited to merely meet the demand, this is arguably something resembling a potential new “pre-theatrical” revenue stream outside of the Video On Demand service.
Here’s how it works. My stand-alone ticket cost me just $33, with the ability to add unlimited additional guests for approximately $14 a pop at the AMC Century City 15. But any guests don’t get the bonus items that came with my Super Ticket purchase. Of course, said guest is only missing out on a digital download ofWake Up RonBurgundy: The Lost Moviewhich is available now along with a pass code for a future digital download ofAnchorman: The Legend Continues when the title is released on home formats sometime next year. Oh, and I got a $5 concession coupon, which basically buys me exactly one small popcorn or small soda. Paramount sadly didn’t spring for any “gag” items or even a full blu-ray set of the first film. And when you consider thatThe Legend of Ron Burgundywould surely be available on a feature-packed blu-ray (perhaps with another “lost movie” alternate cut of the film), the bonus items are mostly beside the point this time around.
But let’s also be honest and admit that the goodies are indeed beside the point. No one springs for a $33 movie ticket because they want $5 off popcorn or a digital download of a film they probably already own and/or will eventually buy. They want to see the movie before any other paying customers and are willing to pay a premium to do so. So, from a movie going perspective, the big question (“Is it worth the extra money?”) comes down to two factors. WasAnchorman: The Legend Continuesany good and how was the audience? Well, if you’re the kind of person who will spring $33 to seeAnchorman 2 basically 24 hours early for reasons other than journalistic curiosity, then you’re probably going to loveAnchorman 2. I enjoyed the firstAnchorman when I saw it back in July 2004, but never gave it much thought. I watched the “alternate cut” once out of curiosity and haven’t seen either versions ofAnchormanin nine years. ButAnchorman 2: The Legend Continuesis shockingly a better film than the original.
More the majority of its running time, it’s a tighter, more focused, and more structurally disciplined picture than both the original and Adam McKay two other Farrell comedies (The Other GuysandStep Brothers). Unlike the rambling original, this one actually has bite, with some potent anger about how the 24 hour news cycle basically killed quality news, as well as the viewers who choose to give high ratings to infotainment over actual news. Now The CampaignandThe Other Guysalso wore their social outrage on their sleeves, but frankly Anchorman 2 is quite a bit funnier than those, with the potent messaging outweighing the comedy. By all rights it shouldn’t work, as much of the humor is based around the four leads (Farrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, andDavid Koechner) riffing with each other on one extended sketch after another, with an occasional assist from the large supporting cast (I kept waiting for Dylan Baker to be revealed as the murderer).
But aside from some toothless looks at race relations in the early 80′s (with a wasted Meagan Good) and a way-too-long digression in the second hour, the film is laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end.So yes, the film is funny, with some terrific cameos and a crowd-pleasing finale that I won’t dare spoil. But almost as enjoyable as the film was the audience I saw it with. It’s one thing to see a comedy with an audience that enjoys itself. It’s another to find yourself wishing for subtitles to catch the lines that you couldn’t hear over the roar of audience laughter. And that was precisely the Anchorman 2experience that the Super Ticket bought me last night. And that kind of audience for this kind of movie is frankly worth every penny of that “premium” ticket price. I didn’t see a single cell phone or hear a single conversation during the near-two hour running time. It was a flawless audio/visual presentation. It was simply one of the better movie going experiences I’ve had in recent years.
Now could I have had that same experience tonight at 9:00 pm or this Friday night at the local multiplex or the Arclight? Maybe, maybe not. But if attending a Super Ticket screening guarantees such a crowd, then that is the appeal of such a gimmick. My $33 ticket for Anchorman 2 bought me a premium audience. Now if Paramount and other studios do this more regularly it may-well cease to be an event after awhile. But for the moment, there is real value for the hardened moviegoer in the idea of paying extra money for what amounts to a guarantee of getting a packed theater of genuinely excited moviegoers for a given picture, in an advance screening no less. If a “Super Ticket” engagement, by virtue of its limited venues and price bump, buys me the kind of packed and respectfully enthusiastic midnight audience with which I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King versus the near empty midnight audience with which I sawX-Men, I’m absolutely in favor of this idea.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continuesis a surprisingly winning sequel to an original which I was never overly fond of, possibly the biggest jump in quality between installments for a comic franchise sinceAddams Family Values. And the audience that I saw it with made it even funnier and even more enjoyable.I paid $33 to seeAnchorman 2: The Legend Continueslast night. And for that extra money I saw the film with what amounts to a premium audience in an environment that felt like a special event. For that reason alone, aside from the pre-release date and the various extras, it was worth every dime.
Okay, your turn. What films would you pay extra to see a little early with a best-case-scenario audience and how much extra would you pay?