Film Buffs Upset Over TIFF’s Demand-Based Pricing

Manchester by the Sea, a critically acclaimed drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan, played at the highly anticipated Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A single ticket for this film, after a two dollar online transaction fee and a seven dollar surcharge, costed $58.

“I just felt like no movie is worth $58. It’s already a stretch at $49,” said Jamie Marshall, a paralegal who hoped to see plenty of films at the TIFF, but couldn’t justify spending that kind of money. Marshall has been a TIFF member for six years and already spent $450 for early access privilege to various films. “This has seriously made me question whether I will continue.”

Marhall, who hoped to bring her 12-year-old daughter to see a new animated film, Sing, didn’t want to spend such high prices for a movie. Young people who might not have as steady of an income will have even more trouble justifying those kind of prices. Nearly one-fifth of 18 to 24year olds in the U.S. qualify themselves as being in “debt hardship,” so it’ll be extremely difficult for them to even afford a single ticket if the costs remain that high.

According to the Globe and Mail, the TIFF decided to implement a “demand-based” system of pricing, also called “dynamic” pricing. As more and more people purchase tickets to a particular movie, the cost of the ticket goes up.

TIFF’s vice-president Jennifer Bell released a statement outlining the organization’s reasoning for demand-based pricing:

After a lengthy internal discussion we felt that introduction a capped dynamic pricing model for a certain number of festival screenings was, on balance, the appropriate decision to take.”

CTV News reports that a few other moviegoers were not too accepting of TIFF’s justifications.

“Yes other industries are implementing surge pricing and yes other festivals are kind of doing the same thing,” said Amaan Ismail, a five-year TIFF goer, “but TIFF was always meant to be a festival for the people. They seem to be gouging the people who really want to want to come see it.”

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