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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » A Tale of Three Theatres: Closing Them Down (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: A Tale of Three Theatres: Closing Them Down
Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 09-10-2000 02:11 AM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A little background. I work as an assistant manager for Carmike Cinemas at the Oakwood 12 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Recently we closed three theatres in Wisconsin-the Rogers 5 in Wasua, the Rogers 5 in Stevens Point, and the Fox River 10 in Appleton. Well, for those of you who might not know, my manager and I got a call at 7:30 pm Thursday that we were to withold some petty cash and be ready to go to Wasua, Stevens Point, and Appleton the next day to clean those theatre's out. This of course was rather sudden, but we were up to the callenge. Following is my tale of the road trip and the sadness of these closing theatres.

Well, first I should explain the reasons for this closings. the Rogers 5 in Wasau and the Rogers 5 in Stevens Point closed becuase the leases were up, not because of the Chapter 11. Carmike has wanted to close these theatre's they inherited from Excellence for a long time, but Excellence had signed long term leases, so they didn't have a chance until now. Of course they ran them into the ground, more on that later though. The Fox River 10 in Appleton was closed due to the Chapter 11. The Marcus and Regal theatre's killed us there. I won't say the exact number, but Carmike was losing A LOT of money in that theatre.

Beginning the Trip....
So its Thursday and I'm busy showing someone how to build up movies. Buys the whole afternonn with trailers, etc. 7:30 rolls around, going to go home in an hour, or so I thought. We get a call from our District Manager tellling us to withold a certain amount of petty cash from that nights deposit and be ready to go Friday morning to clean out the Wasua, Stevens Point, and Appleton theatres. Ok, fine, we rose to the challenge. I got all of my Friday stuff done, Thursday night. Took me until 12:20, but I got it done. Moved film, everything. The opener on Friday-who was supposed to be me-whcih we called in had nothing to do except 'normal' duties.

So the next day, after my morning class in college, we met up with our DM at the theatre and took off for Wasua in his Cadillac. About halfway there, we find out that there aren't any Uhauls or Ryder's for rent in Wasua. Ok, so we just keep going to Stevens Point where there is a 26' Uhaul available figuring we'll just do that theatre first. We get to Stevens Point and NOTHING IS PACKED YET. Never mind that the theatre has been closed for over a week, in which time the manager was supposed to be packing stuff. We were not pleased. So we left he there to do the packing by herself and moved on to Appleton. This was better, everything was packed and ready to go.

The Fox River 10-The Death of a Classic
The Fox River 10 was built by Esseness Theatres (that spelled right?)-later known as Excellence Theatres (was just a name change, not take-over)- in 1984/85 as a 6 plex. A few years later, unsure when exactly, they added on 4 more screens. In its day this was a beautiful theatre (even though there were no cieling tiles in the theatres!!). It still was when I was there. It had been kept up (by dedicated staff I'm sure, not Carmike) and was in beautiful shape. Almost everything was original and still shinning. The seats were cleans and not broken, the concession stand was well kept, the fermica wasn't chipped or pealing. Even the booths, which featured 'vintage' equipment and sound systems (pictures on the way) were clean and well kept. We loaded up all the stock, the computer system, cash registers, janitor's supplies, light bulbs, Xenons, etc. All the 'major equipment' had to stay because the Bankruptcy court will decide what is done with it. So at about 6pm we started out of Appleton and headed back toward Stevens Point.

The Rogers Theatres: Background
A man by the name of Paul Rogers runs several theatre's throughout central Wisconsin. Rogers apparently is obbsessed with building screens. Not nescessarily adding on to his theatre's mind you, he seems to lik his auditoriums on the smallish side. All of his theatres are converted buildings/single screens that have been chopped up into multiple theatres. Back in the hey day of Excellence Theatres, Excellence negotiated with him to take over operation of all his theatres, making him just a landlord. Not long after that deal Carmike did a hostile takeover of Excellence, inheriting those leases.

The Rogers Cinema Stevens Point-Unbelievable
This theatre is...it is...unbelievable. Part of it used to be a gas station if you can believe that. The theatre features tiny 'shoe box' auditoriums and a pitiful lobby. Three booths for five screens, featuring two five deck platter systems. Same deal as Appeleton, only we didn't take the 'big stuff' this time becuase ofthe lease agreement. Believe it or not, the owner (Paul Rogers) is going to remodel and add on to it!!

Homeward Bound
Well, the truck was full after Stevens Point, so we resolved to do Wasua the next day. We set out from Stevens Point at about 9:30 pm on Friday. On the way back we stopped at another Rogers theatre, this one operated by the man himself, in Marshfield. This was a single screen and now, with the addition of the former music store next door, is a 7 screen!!! I was expecting a dump-not so. This theatre is VERY nice believe it or not. It had just been completely remodeled. The auditoriums were not too small, good lobby, nice, clean booths that were still running Century SA's and Simplex's (god bless them) next too brand new strong platters. Only one auditorium had digital sound, but the stereo was very crisp and clear. The multi-lvevl desing htat allowed 7 screens actually flowed very nicely. I was very impressed with this theatre.

On To Wasua
Saturday moring we called in the staff early so we cold get the truck unlaoded. That's right, we get to be the storage area-the booth specificaly-for all this junk. After getting the truck unlaoded we took off for Wasua at 11:30. Arriving at 2:30 we proceeded to the downtown area-only to find the path of our 26' Uhaul blocked by a street carnival. We illegaly park the truck and strike off for the theatre, hoping to find a route there for the truck. The DM was already there, and him having school bus driving experience it is decided he should manuver the truck through the downtown area to the front of the theatre. So in the meantime I do a little exploring. This is a 5 plex with 4 booths and 3 levels. The 1st floor was the original single screen, now twinned. The second floor was apartments at one time, now turned into two screens. The basement-that's right the BASEMENT-is home to one screen and many support columns, which must have made finding a good seat a challenge. Apparently when they added the basement theatre they had to dig it out by hand!! The booths had Century projectors, strong platters, and some ancient sound system's I didn't recognize. The upper booth that ran both the 2nd floor theatre's was equiped with a 5 deck platter. The film actually has to travel around a corner on a series of complex rollers to get to one of the projectors!!

The place was of course a dump, being in Carmike's care for 9 years. The manager of the theatre wasn't there but if he had been I would have asked him why the f*ck he stockpiled os much stock. They had more shit there that we do at our theatre, and we're a 12 plex! And of course, Paul Rogers already has the plans in the works to remodel it and reopen it.

We finnaly made it back to Eau Claire, unloaded the stuff, and parked the truck to return tommorrow. Now that our booth is full of junk we've gotta sort through it and do inventory on the concession stock. I'm looking forward to it .

Thus ends this tale of three theatres. I'll get pictures to Brad as soon as I can.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16091
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-10-2000 11:53 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually Essaness Theaters was about the lowest form of movie theater that existed when they were in Chicago,oops, there was M&R Amusements too. They used Pioneer bookshelf speakers behind their screens in some large locations. They sold out to Sony. Essaness sold out to Cineplex Odeon and as far as I know even Cineplex has abandoned all the Chicago locations that they had bought from Essaness. The no ceiling tiles was standard in an Essaness theater. They were cheap in every respect and ran every location into the ground. The local theater in the town that I lived in was an Essaness and they used Super Simplex projectors on Eprad platters till the day it closed down. The HVAC units hung inside the auditoriums too...pretty neat if you're interested in that sort of stuff. This was typical of them. Since they could not build within a certain radius of Chicago, and that Cineplex had the name they went further away and built in northern Wisconsin and I believe Minnesota. I never went to see one of those places even though I did allot of service work in those areas. Changing the name from Essaness to Excellence was about the equivelent of US West changing their name to Quest. Its supposed to signal that everything is ok now or something????? What a joke, and what a joke Essaness was too. As far as other Wisconsin operators, there are only two other decent ones, both first class. AGT Enterprises and a theater in Hartford that I can't remember who runs. The rest are mom and pop mix and match that can range from ok to worse than poor.
Mark


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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 09-10-2000 12:12 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well my theatre was an Excellence theatre originally and it ran/runs Strong platters and Century SA projectors. It also has cieling tiles, though I think that is becuase code required it.

My manager tells me stories of how they all used to wear tuxedos and white gloves. He used to work in Chicago though and admits those theatres were dumps.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 09-15-2000 06:42 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well I got my pictures back today. The ones from Wasua turned out very nice. I'll have all three sets labeled and in the mail to Brad by tommorrow hopefully.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-09-2001 04:06 AM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Well I got my pictures back today. The ones from Wasua turned out very nice. I'll have all three sets labeled and in the mail to Brad by tommorrow hopefully.

*cough*Well, you see I got busy....
anyway, here is one picture I have on the net. This is from the Rogers 5 in Wasau. Marcus has taken over this location and is hoping to turn it into student film/foriegn film/etc center. They have a lot of work ot do. This theatre was the 'basement theatre,' called that becuase it was literally in the basement. They dug it out by hand if you can believe that. The first picture is the auditorium itself. On either side of the support posts there are 4 more rows of seats.

Here we see the projection room. Note the high platform to elevate the projector.

Another shot of the 'mile high' projector.

And the platter. What kind is this, btw?

Do people have no sense?


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Gordon McLeod
Film God

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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-09-2001 09:34 AM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That is a CFS supper platter

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7952
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-09-2001 10:35 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What a horrible looking theatre and booth! It's almost not worth bothering with 35mm for that size screen...16mm would look fine.

I'm guess that the soundhead is an RCA 9030 (rare with Century projectors) and is that a Brenkert base?

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John Walsh
Film God

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From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 01-09-2001 10:48 AM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is a Brenkert base, although the one I worked with had "RCA" badges on them. They are good bases.

Looks like the operator had to hold himself up while threading.

Seeing booths like this makes me glad for the industry "shake-out" going on. Dump like this have got to go.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-09-2001 12:06 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you think THAT is bad, just wait till I get home tonight and post a few more pictures of the second floor theatres. There's two of them and they share a booth. The booth isn't big enough for two platters though so there's a 5 decker. The film actually has to travel around a corner on rollers to get to one of the projectors.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17657
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 01-09-2001 12:33 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Going around corners is not all that uncommon. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to work with the space.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-09-2001 12:43 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I suppose. Its still nutty, two tiny screeens upstairs. Should have just made it one.

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Charles Lubner
Film Handler

Posts: 78
From: Milwaukee, WI USA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 01-09-2001 02:09 PM      Profile for Charles Lubner   Author's Homepage   Email Charles Lubner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Dustin's pictures are making me shudder, for two reasons. One, because the theatre is crappy. Second, because Marcus Theatres agreed to ACQUIRE this theatre from Paul Rogers in exchange for a 4 plex in Stevens Point!! I can't believe we're going to run such a piece of junk.

Also, Paul Rogers is the president of Wisconsin NATO. You'd think he'd try for some better quality theatres.

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John Walsh
Film God

Posts: 2490
From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 01-09-2001 07:12 PM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Another reason why I think NATO is useless. Many of the members (not all) are part of what's wrong with theaters today.

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Daryl Lund
Film Handler

Posts: 88
From: Chehalis,WA, USA
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 01-09-2001 10:02 PM      Profile for Daryl Lund   Email Daryl Lund   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Look who the new NATO president is, what a joke

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-09-2001 10:49 PM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
These are all from the same location as above, the former Rogers 5 in Wasau, WI. These pictures are of the 2 second floor theatres. These theatres are located in the area that used to be an apartment.


Stairs up to the two auditoriums


Auditorium 4 Notice the 4 surround speakers. You'll see the significance of this later. Beware of the back row, you might not see the actors heads!!


The projector for screen 4 Notice the stepladder in the background for threading. I wonder if that is OSHA approved . The projector for screen 3 is behind the camera and to the left, as seen here:


Projector 3


The 5 deck platter that serves both projectors 3 and 4-3 being to the left and 4 to the right. The soundracks shown in the next picture are on the wall opposite the platter, behind the camera. Notice the corner I mentioned in a previous post that the film must go around to get to projector 3.



Sound Racks 3 and 4. The identical soundracks for theatres 3 and 4. My question is this: Why even bother having surround speakers (as pointed out in previous pictures) when you only have one amp per screen?! Does this make any sense? Or is my understanding of sound more rudimentry than I thought.



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