Coming soon: Cheap movie nights

Cinema companies hope to bring moviegoers back to theatres by introducing cheap movie nights.

Cinema companies are hoping to bring moviegoers back to theatres by introducing cheap movie nights.

Cineplex Entertainment has chosen Winnipeg and Ottawa as test markets for a discounted movie deal. Starting Tuesday, film fans in both cities can buy adult admission, a regular drink and a small popcorn all for $8.95— about half the price of a similar bundle any other day of the week, and the same price as a movie ticket alone.

In Winnipeg, Cineplex is offering the deal at its Silver City Polo Park and St. Vital locations, as well as its theatre at Kildonan Place.

The Ottawa test sites are the Cineplex Odeon South Keys, Silver City Gloucester, Coliseum Ottawa and Cineplex Odeon Barrhaven.

Cineplex officials will monitor the program over the next few weeks and use the test markets to establish prices for discounted movie nightsfor the rest of the country.

Competitor Empire Theatres of New Glasgow, N.S., is offering a two-for-one ticket deal on its website until mid-October. Moviegoers have to sign up to receive an online newsletterin order to take advantage of the deal.

As the latest box office figures reveal, fewer people aregoing to cinemas these days.North American box-office sales this pastweek were down more than 12 per cent from the same time last year.

Rob Warren,directorof the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, says the promotions aim to address box office issues and lure backconsumers, who have found cheaper and more convenient options, including video on demand and evenillegal movie downloads.

"Video on demand —you can get it with your cable station now," Warren said Monday. "Why go outside when you can just call up a movie? Granted, it may be six months old, but still, you can do it from the comfort of your own home. And if you want to get up and go get a drink, you just press pause, come back to it later.

"And still we have the ability to rent movies, and movies are coming out faster now on DVD than ever before," he added.