3D movie tickets set for epic price hike and Californians to vote on legal weed

Ticket prices will be going up at movie theaters across the country this weekend as the entertainment industry looks to cash in on growing demand for 3-D movies following the success of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland.

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Starting Friday, prices for adult admission to 3-D movies will increase an average 8.3% at box offices nationwide, according to market research conducted by investment firm BTIG. Ticket prices for IMAX movies are expected to jump 10%, while prices for regular 2-D movies will rise about 4% on average.

The price increases vary by region and will be in effect at theater chains operated by AMC Entertainment Inc., Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) and others.

At one AMC theater in New York, the price for a family of four to see a 3-D screening of Dreamworks Animation’s How to Train your Dragon this Friday will be $63 before popcorn, soda or candy. [Read the full article]

It’s official: Californians will decide whether legal marijuana should be used to plug the state’s $20 billion budget gap.

California residents are expected to vote this year on whether legalization should be approved to raise nearly $1.4 billion in state revenue. That’s based on an estimate from the State Board of Equalization, a tax administration agency.

It would be another source of revenue for the state,said Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the board. The board has not issued an opinion on legalization as a means of easing the state’s budget crisis, she added.

California Secretary Debra Brown confirmed on Wednesday that enough signatures had been collected to put AB 390, a marijuana legalization bill, on the ballot for Nov. 2. A press release from the secretary said that legalization proponents submitted 694,248 petition signatures for the bill, easily surpassing the required 433,791. [Read the full article]

Oracle’s Sun integration got off to a fast start, as the company on Thursday reported an 18% sales increase from the year-ago quarter.

The Sun integration is going even better than we expected," Oracle President Safra Catz said in a prepared statement. We believe that Sun will make a significant contribution to our fourth quarter earnings per share as well as meet the profitability goals we set for next year.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., company posted income for the three months ended February 28 that rose to $1.9 billion, or 38 cents per share, after adjustments for one-time expenses. That compares with net income of $1.8 billion a year ago.

Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) sales rose 18% to $6.5 billion, up from $5.5 billion last year, which beat analysts’ forecast of $6.3 billion. Excluding the effects of Oracle’s $7.4 billion Sun Microsystems takeover, sales were up 7%. [Read the full article]

That’s up just more than 4% over last year and a 56% spike compared to 2002, when Fidelity first issued its Retiree Health Care Costs Estimate.

Each year Fidelity forecasts what a U.S. couple retiring at age 65 would need to cover their health care expenses during retirement, presuming they qualify for Medicare and do not have an employer-sponsored plan.

The spike in what couples must save can be attributed to higher costs associated with treatment costs, new technologies and general price inflation, said Fidelity, which assists companies in planning their employee benefit programs.

But some experts say the estimate can be misleading because a multitude of factors, including life expectancy, could push costs higher or lower than averages.

"It’s important to recognize that most people aren’t average," said Paul Fronstin, director of health research for The Employee Benefit Research Institute, an independent public policy organization. [Read the full article]

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