The joke is familiar -- If prices at movie theaters get any higher we'll have to use a credit card!

Well, prices aren't going to get any higher, but as of May 1 you can use an American Express credit card at local Cineplex Odeon theaters.Cineplex Odeon is one of the country's largest movie theater chains - 1,800 screens in 500 locations.

In the Salt Lake Valley Cineplex Odeon operates 34 screens, a third of the local movie market.

This is the first time a theater chain has accepted credit cards on a continent-wide basis, according to the Toronto-based company.

A news release quoted chairman Garth Drabinsky as saying the deal "affirms the strong relationship" between Cineplex Odeon and American Express. American Express is a corporate sponsor of Cineplex Odeon's presentation of "The Phantom of the Opera" coming to Toronto in the fall.

Edwin M. Cooperman, president of Consumer Card Group U.S.A., was quoted as saying the move represents a response to consumers who have said they would like "to be able to use the card for a wide range of leisure activities."

They also said American Express cardholders will be offered "special benefits" at Cineplex Odeon theaters in the future, though those benefits were not specified.