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Author Topic: theatres playing art AND mainstream films
Mike Croaro
Master Film Handler

Posts: 345
From: Millbrae, CA
Registered: Apr 2005

 - posted 11-23-2005 05:55 PM      Profile for Mike Croaro   Email Mike Croaro   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Folks:

I notice that the San Jose, CA theatres (Cinearts 6, Pruneyard 6, Camera 12, Century 25) play both arthouse and mainstrem films. Usually theatres play one or the other. Are there any advatages / disadvantages to playing both? I personally prefer the "art only" theatres. Any ideas?


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Steve Scott
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1300
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 11-23-2005 07:46 PM      Profile for Steve Scott   Email Steve Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It depends on the demographic the house in question serves. My theatre is in an art friendly part of town, but because of Landmark's exclusive contracts for their theatres (separated by downtown, two freeways and a river from St. Anthony) we can only get our hands on wide-release content. Occasionally Landmark will drop a title & we'll pick it up though, Crash was an example of this. Art & mainstream didn't fare so well when I worked at Lakeville (very WASP-ish suburban crowd). Muller's Willow Creek theatre does quite well with the mixed format, however, being in a neighborhood with many discerning (mostly older) folks and plenty of kids in the rest of the surrounding cities to flock in.

Knowing your patrons is important.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-24-2005 01:48 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Prytania theatre in New Orleans is a case like Steve Scott mentioned. It's a single-screen neighborhood theatre in the Garden District, & its niche has been a mix of art/rep/mainstream.

Since the hurricane, the Prytania is the only theatre operating in metro New Orleans, & is skewing mostly mainstream to accommodate the population. Go Harry Potter.

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Matt Fields
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 540
From: Jackson, Ohio, United States
Registered: Jun 2005

 - posted 11-25-2005 07:39 AM      Profile for Matt Fields   Email Matt Fields   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I once operated the Athena Theatre in Athens, OH (Home of Ohio University). The Athena has three screens, and we played a mix of art and mainstream films to some success.

When OU was in session, we had an "Art Series" for the small art films, while stuff like "Lost in Translation" had regular runs. During the Art series, the films would play once Wed night and once for a Saturday matinee.

We did business with the blockbusters too.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-25-2005 08:01 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most art houses where I have worked will occasionally bring in a mainstream/crossover title (a current example would be "Good Night and Good Luck"; another would be "March of the Penguins") from time to time. It is usually successful. In smaller towns, an art house can also get away with occasionally bringing in second-run mainstream releases that might appeal to their customer base. It's a good way of getting people who might not normally be fans of art-house programming to come to the theatre and maybe see posters or trailers for films that might interest them.

One of Rachel's former theatres (Hollywood Hits in Danvers, MA.) is a multiplex which has (had?) an odd policy where approximately half of the screens were devoted to late-run mainstream films (at cheap prices) and the rest were devoted to first-run art-house titles (at full price). Rachel can probably comment on whether or not it was successful (I don't know).

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Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3057
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 11-26-2005 02:32 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The place where I'm projecting at the moment runs a mixture, on a single screen. The mainstream titles generally don't do very well. There are exceptions, of course. 'Phantom of the Opera' for example, and 'Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Ware Rabbit' opened yesterday, only two shows so far, but it seems to be doing well. Looking through the monthly programme I can generally tell what will do well, though I don't always get it right, of course. One thing that I can never predict is the Saturday morning children's film. New or old, well known or obscure, good weather or bad on the day, it can be over half full, or almost empty, I think the worst I've seen was three people. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to it.

Of course, it will depend on whee you are. This place is about one minute's walk from the local multiplex, or about a mile walk, or five minutes on the tram from another one. Almost everyone who wants to see a mainstream title has probably already seen it at one of those a month or two before. If you are in an area without another local cinema then the mainstream product will probably do better.

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Aaron Mehocic
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 804
From: New Castle, PA, USA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-26-2005 03:21 PM      Profile for Aaron Mehocic   Email Aaron Mehocic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There was talk of doing that some years ago where I'm at. The plan was to devote one screen to an art film and the other eight to mainstream. Another suggestion was to offer a discussion group after the film (perhaps on a Tuesday afternoon if I remember right), in order to drum up word of mouth.

Fact is our demographic is at best high school educated with 2.5 kids. Art films just don't float here like they do in the northern Pittsburgh marketplace (where the orginator of the idea lived). Our new sister cinema about 20 miles away currently tries to book some art every now and then, but other than March of the Penguins nothing seems to last any more than two weeks.

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Matt Barth
Film Handler

Posts: 46
From: Albuquerque, NM 87109
Registered: Oct 2005

 - posted 12-01-2005 11:40 AM      Profile for Matt Barth   Email Matt Barth   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From my experience in art houses, sometimes the indie fare is just too out there for a consistent customer base. Now I didn't agree at all with bringing in Pirates of the Caribbean, "Well Verbinski has made indie films and Depp is an indie icon." BAH! But often I've found that mainstream films will flop in art houses because the audience isn't interested. As for art movies in mainstream houses, it depends how out-there a film is.


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Paul Gordon
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 577
From: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Aug 2005

 - posted 12-07-2005 07:19 AM      Profile for Paul Gordon   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Gordon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The theatre that I project at runs art house and second run on a single screen. We play films like, Water, Grizzly Man, and the Squid and the Whale.. but also mainstream stuff like Flightplan, Sernity...etc.. its seems to work, I think the key is to not play the films for very long. We tend to change the films every couple days.

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