I just registered for the forums and I look forward to hearing from all of you. I've been a lot of the informative topics and I'm thrilled to have come across this great resource (i.e., all of you).
I am actually an indie filmmaker in St. Louis, MO, but I'm thinking of opening a small alternative cinema theater in town. It seems like most (if not all) of you are very experienced with classic cinema venues (auditorium, stadium seating, 35mm, etc.), but I am sure that you can also help me with my tiny little theatre.
I want to take a historic building and turn it into a one screen theater with a full bar. I'm talking about a very relaxed atmosphere in which there is some table seating and some row seating. I'd like to be able to fit a good 50-80 seats in the showing room and still have good space for transit, cocktail waiters/waitresses, etc.
I know that it can be hard in some markets to maintain a one-screen theater, but this would be a little different. The primary focus is the films but it is also very much a place to socialize and make merry. I guess you could think of it as a cross between a B-movie brew 'n' view and a one-screen art house.
My first question... would this be considered a theatrical or a non-theatrical venue?
I'm totally new to the business side of film and so most of my questions relate to copyrights, rental fee structures, etc. I am aware of the classic theatrical rental fee model, in which you have a $500 guarantee (for example) as well as an earnings cap after which a 90/10 split kicks in.
Keep in mind, though, that the primary projection would be 16mm. Swank motion pictures is right down the street from me, and they carry a LOT of 16mm titles that I would be interested in showing (shorts programs, old classics, documentaries, etc.). Also, I am interested in showing old educational films not unlike those you would find on eBay. How would I go about doing that without breaking any copyright laws? Can I show copyrighted material if I do not charge a "cover"? I'm talking about films like "Bakery Beat", "How to Court a Lady", "Wound Management", etc. Old instructional films. I would be interested in showing some 16mm films from my collection like "Lights, Action, Africa", a documentary on the PBS photographers Joan and Alan Root. Is that possible, or do I have to seek out a distributor of any title I wish to show?
Now, I would hope to be considered a non-theatrical venue so that I could rent 16mm from Swank. Any idea of their prices for this kind of rental? Do you think they would be amenable to some sort of deal?
Please help me out.