SAN DIEGO — United Artists has raised general admission ticket prices to $7 at its Horton Plaza theaters, making the movie complex the first in San Diego County to hit that mythical barrier.
The increase from $6.50 to $7 went into effect last Friday, right before the start of the holidays, traditionally the biggest revenue season for the movie industry.
Other United Artist theaters in Chula Vista, Escondido and the San Diego Sports Arena area have maintained general admission ticket prices at between $5.50 and $6.50, according to recorded program information.
Discounts still are available at all the United Artists theaters for children, seniors and for some matinee screenings, although the discount tickets for the Horton Plaza complex have been raised from $3.50 to $4.00.
A United Artists spokesman for the San Diego theaters refused to comment late Wednesday on the rising prices, referring all calls to the main office, which were closed for the holidays.
In Los Angeles, New York and other urban centers, $7 to $7.50 ticket prices are common. But San Diego prices have remained steady at $5.50 to $6.50 for the past few years.
Seven dollars is a "psychological barrier, especially if the economy is rather iffy," according to Jim Edwards of Edwards Cinema, which operates four theater complexes in San Diego County.
Edwards said his theaters generally charge $6.50 in Orange County and $6 in San Diego County and that there are no plans for an increase.
Not surprisingly, patrons at the Horton Plaza theater were not thrilled with the price increase.
"That's awful," Michael Gatson said when he saw the price. "I don't think it's the right time, seeing the economy is slowing down. I think they should have waited a little bit to let the economy build up."
Steve Giebner, who had just spent $18 to take his girlfriend and son to see a screening of "Home Alone," said price increases have changed his moviegoing habits.
"If this wasn't a special movie on a special night, I wouldn't be here," he said. "I go to movies maybe three times a month--at least I have been. Now it's to the point that I go to matinees when I can."