Standard admission to fall from $21.95 to $18.29

Toho Cinemas, operator of Japan’s biggest multiplex theater chain, is cutting admission prices, a move bound to send shock waves through the local exhibition biz.

The admission for patrons 18 and older will drop from ¥1,800 ($21.95) to $18.29, while under-18s will pay $12.20, down from $18.29 for college and high-school students, and $12.20 for junior high and primary students.

Toho will introduce the prices in March at six sites nationwide and, depending on the results, expand to others.

It plans a rollout to its entire chain in spring 2012.

The current prices have been standard industrywide for more than a decade, as have a variety of discounts depending on the day of the week and time of day.

Toho hopes that simplifying prices will juice up admissions, which have stagnated in recent years, despite an increase in screens.

In 2001, there were 1.63 billion admissions at 2,585 screens; while in 2009, there were 1.69 billion admissions at 3,396 screens.

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