A major industry player says the film industry is in decline and piracy is partly to blame, after a popular Wellington cinema dramatically dropped its ticket prices.

Reading Cinemas Courtenay has cut its standard charge from $16 to $10 to get movie-goers through the doors.

"Hurray! All of our standard tickets are now just $10 and our gold lounge is $15 -- all day, every day," the firm announced on its Facebook page.

Sony Pictures New Zealand general manager Andrew Cornwall said the New Zealand film industry "lagged" in terms of the country's growth.


"It's lagged quite a bit behind and there is no doubt piracy has been involved."

He said the rise of the internet has also allowed illegal websites where people could download or stream movies, even though film release dates in New Zealand was now "very close" to the dates in the US.

"While the internet is great and it's enabled good things for the industry, the downside is the growth in unauthorised websites.

"Its a major loss to the film industry," he said.

He did not want to comment on whether other big cinema companies would follow and drop their ticket prices but said it was "no doubt an interesting move" from the cinema chain.

New Zealand film critic Dominic Corry said it was clear there was a perception with many people the "theatre-going experience" was under threat from increasingly "sophisticated home entertainment".

"I can only presume this is a measure designed to combat the perceived lure of a night in over a night at the movies," he said.

Mr Corry said it was hard to determine whether piracy was to blame, it was "certainly perceived by some to be a threat to film-going".

Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin said it was interesting Reading Cinemas dropped ticket prices and "still could make money".

"How much were they making when the prices were higher?"

She said she didn't think other cinema companies "had much choice" but to follow and lower its prices also.

"It's a tough industry. I think they will have to go down this path eventually."

Reading Cinemas managing director Wayne Smith refused to comment on figures for cinema-goers.

The drop in prices come after Auckland's first Reading Cinema introduced $10 pricing when it opened in the LynnMall Brickworks dining and entertainment precinct last year.

Declining patronage at cinemas isn't limited to New Zealand, as Kiwi director Sir Peter Jackson told US publication Deadline earlier this month.

"It's pretty frightening when you look at what the real health of the industry is," Sir Peter said.

"Of all the cinema seats available on any day in the year in America, from the first to last screenings, 82 per cent of those seats go unsold, and are empty. So the question becomes, how do we sell more cinema seats?"

He said the number of frequent movie-goers fell 10 per cent from 2014 to last year.

"We get told about last year's record box office grosses, but the wool is being pulled over people's eyes. For the health of the cinemas, you have to concentrate not on the gross but on the admissions; the number of people who actually go to the cinema.

"In 2002, there were 1.57 billion people who went to the cinema. Jump to 2014 and it's 1.27 billion. So 300 million fewer tickets were sold. They're losing the audience and keeping the dollars up artificially by raising ticket prices."