Hundreds of Illawarra families are finding their wallets a little emptier these school holidays as the cost of going to the movies hits home.
Village Roadshow co-executive chairman Graham Burke this week defended ticket costs, saying high wages and online film piracy were to blame for rising prices.
A comparison of prices in the Illawarra shows costs vary.
"It very much depends where you go," said Ian Hyslop, owner of Warrawong's Gala Cinema.
Mr Hyslop called Greater Union and Hoyts "rip-offs".
A standard ticket at Gala costs $9 for 2D or 3D films, while adult tickets at Greater Union in Wollongong ($15.50) or Shellharbour ($16.50) can be double that once a 3D surcharge of $3, and another $1 for 3D glasses, is added.
Gala's neighbouring Hoyts cinema in Westfield Warrawong is $9.90, or $13.90 for 3D with a $1 glasses fee.
"People go to chain theatres, pay rip-off prices in the candy bar, then say movies are too expensive," Mr Hyslop said.
Food and drinks are also a bone of contention for parents. At Hoyts, a small popcorn and drink is $8.90, while Gala does the same for $5.
"We take our own food to the movies," Jacinta from Figtree said on Wednesday. She had just taken her two young children to see The Lego Movie.
"I can't afford candy bar prices. It's way too expensive."
Woonona's Julie Gartshore defended prices. Coming out of The Lego Movie with her son and nephew, she said it was cheaper than other holiday activities.
"We go to the football a lot, and that's way more expensive than the movies," she said.
Greater Union and Hoyts were contacted for comment but did not respond by press time.
Correction: A Hoyts employee on Wednesday told the Mercury a small popcorn and drink at Hoyts was $12.70. Hoyts Warrawong management contacted the Mercury on Thursday to inform us the correct price was $8.90.