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Author Topic: Universal non-theatrical booking
Alex Rolfe
Film Handler

Posts: 37
From: Cambridge, MA, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

 - posted 08-07-2003 10:29 PM      Profile for Alex Rolfe   Author's Homepage   Email Alex Rolfe   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For the other non-theatrical folks: Universal is handling its own 35mm non-theatrical bookings rather than having Swank handle them. Paul Ginsburg (818-777-1000) is the guy to call.

Anyone know what prompted this or if other studios/distributors are likely to do the same?


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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 08-31-2003 02:17 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The designation "non-theatrical' and "theatrical" have pretty much become meaningless. Used to be, non-theatrical meant 16mm and theatrical, 35mm with the 16mm relegated to schools and shut-ins -- venues that had no asperations of being actual "movie theatres." But there are a slew of venues out there like the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Center Cinema, the Museum of the Moving Image, who are 35mm theatres; except for the fact that they don't run every day of the week, all year long, they are exactly like commercial art houses -- they still have programs that are open to the public, they advertise publicly and they charge admission.

The problems with forcing these venues to book through Swank were legendary. First off, Swank does not have their own 35mm prints, except for a scant handful -- all the rest are simply booked through the studios' classics departments. The logistics of this alone are nightmarish. Even the studios saw the drawbacks this arrangement. Besides, why share rental revenues with a third party when the buyer is perfectly happy coming directly to your door, money in fist? Not to take anything away from Swank and the guys over there -- Brian Fox in particular has always been very helpful -- but it was not really a workable situation, especially with Swank still going by the old non-theatrical mindset, restricting public advertising and charging additional rental fees for each and every screening. I am sure the studio accountants saw this as a no-brainer -- why limit the theatre's income which the studio is getting a percentage of and why prevent the theatre from bring in a larger paying audience by advertising? Made no sense to us and happily it made no sense to MGM, Warners, Universal (Pete is a very helpful guy) or Fox (although Fox doesn't officially have a classics department) who will book directly with the venue.

The only time this gets tricky is when we want to play day and date -- although we have done this a number of times -- naturally the distribs will not do anything to harm first run houses. But as soon as the title comes off the break, hey, our money is as good as the next guy's.


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