A few days ago my husband and I drove past Old Country Buffet (a chain whose family includes Hometown Buffet and Country Buffet restaurants) and saw a big, colorful banner announcing an all-you-can-eat lunch special for the new, lower price of $6.99 -- and just $4.99 for breakfast! In small print -- well, small-ish, since the sign was about eight feet wide -- it said that the "beverage bar" was not included.

Being a curious sort, my husband stopped by the restaurant the next day and asked about the beverage policy. Yes, sodas are excluded from the $6.99 price, although you can pay another couple of dollars if you want to drink something other than water. And yes, the employee told him, the new lower price was because they were doing less business lately, since their customer base -- working families, people on fixed incomes -- are the folks who've been hit the hardest by the current economy.

People everywhere are broke. And when people are broke, they cut back on extras like Sunday dinner at Old Country Buffet for the whole family ... and movies. In the grand scheme, these things are luxuries, and more and more of us can't afford a lot of luxuries.

And yet, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings Inc. and AMC Entertainment Inc. have decided that it's prudent to raise their ticket prices. Not in every market, admittedly, and often for just the 3-D shows. But still. In this economy? Raising prices? Making it harder for people to afford to go to movies? What sort of psychotic business model are they using?
categories Movies, Cinematical