Fulldome Show Pricing – In Depth


MoolahIn this multi-page blog post, I’m going to address some of the issues involved with the all-important subject of fulldome show pricing.

It’s the very essence of our business, and we live and breathe these things every day. Tackling a subject like this can be sensitive, but I think it’s worthwhile, for both customers and potential customers, to learn as much they can about the subject.

Here at Loch Ness Productions, we wear two hats in this business. We are show producers ourselves, of course, and we are also distributors — not only of our own shows, but those from other producers too. We provide our shows and licenses directly to the end-user customer, as do most other producers.

Until we came along, most shows were distributed through hardware vendors; today, many still are. But what sometimes happens there is that higher priority gets placed on things other than show distribution — like selling projector systems (understandably, since larger profit margins can exist there). What can then happen is packages of shows and hardware get bundled together, without calling out the individual prices for each item. The customer is kept unaware of how much shows actually cost. A show may not necessarily get promoted on its own value and merits; instead, it gets used as a sales tool, to make a hardware bid look more appealing.

Well, unlike our “competition”, we don’t sell hardware or equipment. We can’t use shows as bargaining chips to sweeten the deals for new installations. We have nowhere to hide additional markups or profit margins. All we have to sell is the movie.

That’s what we’re all about — providing great content to our customers.
And that’s what we’re all about — providing great content to our customers; not only the shows we’ve created ourselves, but those from the best producers from around the world as well. We try to do things differently, a little better than our competition, and in these posts, I’ll point out some of those ways. I think our methods are more consumer-friendly.

I do want to categorically state that we’re NOT interested in trying to thwart the efforts of hardware vendors, or undercut them with prices. After all, they are often our customers too. Many resell our own shows with their systems. I always tell them the more systems they sell, the happier I am. I want them all to be successful. And, at Loch Ness Productions, we work hard to play fair with everyone — vendor and consumer alike.

Not every distributor can — or wants to — offer every show that’s available. Some shows in our catalog are unique or exclusive to us, but there are others we’ve decided not to carry. And some shows are so popular, they’re offered by “everybody else” too.

Through our efforts in offering some of the best fulldome shows out there, we hope our methods of providing service to customers will continue to meet with success for both them and us.

On to pricing.

On Page 2, we’ll look at who produces fulldome shows, and how producers pay for their productions.

That will lead into Page 3: how — and how much — they (and we) charge for licenses. For many years in the biz, there have been various assumptions made about the marketplace for shows — and I’ve found the logic behind those assumptions ranges from questionable at best, to downright flawed.

Then on Page 4, I’ll counter these squishy pricing models with our method, and how I think it’s better, simpler, and fairer to the customer, producer, and the industry as a whole.

On Page 5, I’ll fill you in on how some producers, while agreeing that our method might be better, still insist we use the same old illogical models. Even more baffling, some want to keep us from publishing their prices, hiding them from the customer. You may find some of the arguments they’ve presented to us over the years to be illuminative, if not gratifying.

Finally, I’ll talk on Page 6 about license terms and their varying lengths, how they came to be, and whether or not they’re even logical.

Read on…

Page 1 – Overview
Page 2 – Who produces fulldome movies
Page 3 – What to charge, and squishy pricing models
Page 4 – Our firm T-shirt size pricing model
Page 5 – Publishing prices and objections
Page 6 – Varying license terms

Mark C. Petersen

About Mark C. Petersen

I'm President and Founder of Loch Ness Productions. Check out my bio, where you can read more about me and my work.
This entry was posted in Fulldome, Fulldome shows, show pricing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fulldome Show Pricing – In Depth

  1. Thomas Lesser says:

    Very good comments. My background includes producing at the (old) American Museum-Hayden Planetarium and managing the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) IMAX theater. I now produce shows as a volunteer for the Millholland Planetarium in Hickory, NC.

    At AMNH one contract I initiated (which was later copied by other IMAX theaters) was to pay a negotiated fixed price (below standard leasing cost) plus an escalating percentage of ticket sales (which at some point was greater than the standard lease). This meant the film producer shared some of the risk if their movie was a flop, but could gain if a hit. I found most producers had faith in their movies and would do this. It never occurred to me to commit fraud to cheat the producer. Of course, IMAX movies tended to have short runs, whereas planetariums seem to think that they can run the same show forever.

    All that being said, I think LNP’s pricing structure seems reasonable.

    Thanks for all your insights and contributions over the years to the planetarium/astronomy fields.

    Tom Lesser

    • Thanks, Tom.

      Ah, Millholland — they recently licensed Into The Deep from us! (The Ogrefish fulldome movie about deep-sea exploration, not the ’90s IMAX movie about coral reefs.)

      Yes, planetariums are definitely different from IMAX theaters. As I said in the article, gate-share can work, but there has to be a gate to share!

      >> Mark

  2. Hi Mark.

    Thanks for posting the show pricing article. Your coverage of the different pricing models was really well done. I hadn’t thought about the issues with gate-share pricing and small portable theaters, or museums that include the planetarium access in the regular admission price.

    I like the fact Loch Ness Productions is willing to post MSRP prices online for the shows you distribute. It really sets the bar for transparency and honesty for distributors.

    Andrew Hazelden

    • Thanks, Andrew. When a planetarium or fulldome theater gets shows, they usually go into the repertory and stay there for years. They may not be shown on a regular basis, but they’re always on tap. This situation, along with the fact that often the theater operators don’t sell tickets or keep track of attendance, is one of the main challenges facing those from the giant screen industry who are on a quest for that industry buzzword, “convergence”.

      >> Mark

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