The added surcharge on tickets at Sundance 608 made the front page of The Capital Times last Friday afternoon with the $11.75 ticket price prominently featured in the headline. The article by Samara Kalk Derby indicates that there have been many complaints from customers, who are frankly baffled by the policy, as well as the rationale: Why am I being charged for reserved seats when they are all reserved? Derby suggests that “management was tight-lipped about the policy until the last minute.” She also states: “Conflicting ticket price information is given out by the box office, a telephone message, the Web Site, a screen outside the theater, and kiosks in front of the theater.” While several patrons interviewed for the article took the surcharge in stride, one person called it “sneaky.”
I was back for the third time on Friday to see the Danish melodrama After the Wedding. I deliberately went at 12:15 PM, because I thought there wasn’t a surcharge for the first show, but quickly found out that the policy is only in effect Monday through Thursday. My ticket cost an extra dollar ($7.25), even though there was only one other patron at the screening and no need for a reserved seat.
Some people have suggested that the added surcharge is a brilliant business strategy, but I now disagree, as evidenced by the negative publicity the policy is generating within the community. Everyone has heard about it, including people who haven’t been to the theater yet. I could see Sundance 608 charging higher ticket prices or a surcharge for choosing reserved seats, especially for crowded shows, but why this convoluted policy? Don’t you want to bring folks into the theater with quality movies, so that you can then have them stick around for food and drinks, and so forth? Isn’t that why Sundance 608 has a café, bistro, gift shop and two bars?