Why do we pay more than others?
As building gets under way on the former Beales site, more and more people seem to be asking why we need another cinema when we have a perfectly good one already.
While I agree it would be nice to have a wider variety of entertainment facilities, I would seriously question the description of the Odeon as “perfectly good”.
For a start, the price of a ticket is astronomical at £9.95. I was recently given a two-for-£10 voucher to use. Finding the film I wanted to see wasn’t on, I decided to go to the nearest alternative Odeon in Bradford (19 miles away).
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the tickets were just £5 per person, all day every day.
So what do we get for that premium price in Harrogate? The films are the same, the staff are presumably paid the same and I can’t imagine the food and drink is any cheaper.
Meanwhile, the outside of the building is in need of attention to bring it back to its former glory.
The facilities inside are even worse: shabby decor, outdated seating, an unattractive foyer – and toilets I’m certain haven’t been improved at all in the 25 years I’ve been going there. How can Odeon justify these extortionate charges for a third-rate cinema?
The sell-out screenings on a Saturday night suggest they don’t have to justify it.
With a captive audience, Odeon can continue to charge double the price of nearby alternatives (after all, the wealthy folk of Harrogate can afford it!) without needing to provide a decent service in return.
There are great independent cinemas in Wetherby, Thirsk and Skipton, among others, which are all significantly cheaper than Harrogate, but naturally we all take the easier option of staying close to home.
The only thing that will change the status quo and force Odeon to behave better is a serious competitor on the doorstep, and the sooner it happens, the better for all our pockets.