Why do movie tickets cost the same for hits or duds?

MovieTicketExpensiveChallenging students to grapple with real-life questions can help them to grasp abstract concepts, notes Cornell business school professor Robert H. Frank. That’s why Frank asks his pupils to “pose an interesting question based on something they have observed or experienced—and then employ basic economic principles in an attempt to answer it.” Case in point: Frank’s student Peter Hlawitschka asked, Why do tickets for popular Broadway shows command premium prices, while movie theaters charge the same price no matter how hot the show is? Hlawitschka’s explanation, as shared by Frank in a New York Times article, is that unlike on Broadway, additional copies of a popular movie can be inexpensively made and shown many times a day on multiple screens. With low prices, movie theater owners can fill many more seats and generate far more revenue than if they charged premium prices for a more limited number of screenings.

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts