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Author Topic: Independent theater owners
Dan Chilton
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 191
From: Springfield, MO
Registered: Mar 2004

 - posted 06-09-2006 10:41 PM      Profile for Dan Chilton   Author's Homepage   Email Dan Chilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I know many of you work for corporate chain theaters, large and small, but I was wondering how many Film-Tech members either work at or operate an independent theater (again, small or big). I guess the criteria between the two would be that independently-owned theaters would typically lack a "home office," are regional rather than national, and have an owner who is in constant interaction with the business.

I run one: Moxie Cinema - a small, single screen arthouse in Springfield, Missouri. Anyone else?

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Ron Curran
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 504
From: Springwood NSW Australia
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 06-09-2006 11:28 PM      Profile for Ron Curran   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Curran   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Dan, ours is a 200 seater 80km from the capital city, ten minutes drive from a 10 screen major. We run a mix of independent and mainstream films but steer clear of boy popcorn fare.

We employ 14 people, 3 permanents, rest casual.

Been running for 38 years. Continuation threatened not by competition but by local authorities insisting on changing our existing handicap facilities to a design that will jeopardise the safety and operation of the theatre.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-09-2006 11:55 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There's me. I've had my single screen since 1979. The population of our town hovers around 2000 people.

We are a first run mainstream operation. The theatre is 75 1/2 years old and has been in continuous operation the whole time except for some summers during the "drive-in boom" era of the '60s and '70s. I first went to work here as a projectionist in fall of 1976 when I was 19 years old.

We have 7 employees all part time. We do have a "home office" ... it's at home.

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Ron Curran
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 504
From: Springwood NSW Australia
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 06-10-2006 12:10 AM      Profile for Ron Curran   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Curran   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
True, Mike, our home office is at home too, in front of our warehouse, repair shop, art studio and printing plant.

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Tony L. Hernandez
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 158
From: Windsor, CO, USA
Registered: Dec 2005

 - posted 06-10-2006 12:47 AM      Profile for Tony L. Hernandez   Email Tony L. Hernandez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The two theaters I am currently involved in are both independent; one being owned by The City of Loveland and the other belonging to the Stanger family who are all personal friends of mine.

The Park Theater in Estes Park, Colorado (pop. 3,184) only operates May thru September and has never missed a season since it opened in 1913. We believe it to be the oldest operating movie house in the country. The theater is operated all on a volunteer basis by the family who owns it and thier friends. It was purchased by The Stanger family in 1982 and although the original owners have passed away recently, is still in the family. We run only first run, main stream pictures.

The other is The Rialto Theater in Loveland, Colorado (pop. 37,352)which is owned by the city and operated by volunteers and about 5 paied staff. It opened in 1920 and was closed from 1976 until its re-opening in 1995. We now have classic, art and independent films as well as live entertainment.

Both these theaters can be found with pictures at Cinematour.

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Mike Spaeth
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1129
From: Marietta, GA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 06-10-2006 01:01 AM      Profile for Mike Spaeth   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Spaeth   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We are technically an independent company. The "home office" consists of myself and the CEO. However, our operations and such are reflective of a major chain. We have internet ticketing available, a full operations manual, a loyalty program. We're poised to grow, and to do so without "growing pains." No Mom & Pop operation here.

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Stephen Frazza
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 161
From: Nutley, NJ, USA
Registered: Mar 2004

 - posted 06-10-2006 01:07 AM      Profile for Stephen Frazza   Author's Homepage   Email Stephen Frazza   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I work at a independent 10 screen.

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Matt Fields
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 545
From: Ohio, United States
Registered: Jun 2005

 - posted 06-10-2006 01:11 AM      Profile for Matt Fields   Email Matt Fields   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm an independant owner in a small town called Jackson, Ohio. The theatre is called the Tri City Theatre, named after the three main towns in Jackson County (Jackson, Wellston, and Oak Hill). Jackson County has about 33,000 people. The population base for the theatre, which sits at the intersection of two highways, is about 60,000 or so.

We have four screens and seven employees: two full time, including myself, and five part-time.

I run the company out of my house: Quickbooks and a filing cabinet.

I started as an usher in Columbus, OH when I was seventeen, got into management when I was nineteen, and started my own business at 24 after I graduated from college.

Being a manager was a lot easier then owning, but not nearly as rewarding.

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

Posts: 2348
From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002

 - posted 06-10-2006 02:26 AM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Definitely a "Mom & Pop"... about as traditional as you'd care to go back.

3-screen drive-in, resident owners since 1986, raised 4 daughters on-site.

... now paying for college! [Roll Eyes]

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Kara J. McVay
Film Handler

Posts: 95
From: Delaware, OH
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 06-10-2006 08:28 AM      Profile for Kara J. McVay   Author's Homepage   Email Kara J. McVay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I run the Strand Theatre for Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH. However the "home office" is upstairs where the ladies bathroom was in the day of upstairs, downstairs bathrooms.

We run first run films on 3 screens, this weekend: "Cars", "The Break-Up" & "X-3". We have a thriving downtown that has some awesome restaurants and shops. We are a "bedroom" community to Columbus, OH. We are quickly becoming that "quaint little town" that everyone is moving north to be a part of. Great old homes some fully renovated, and very expensive and some still in need of renovation that a person can get for a steal, if they are willing to do the work.

We have 7 part-time and 1 full time (me). We have been in continual operation since April 10, 1916. Showing movies the entire time!!! [beer]

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-10-2006 12:06 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I (occasionally) work for several such venues, although only one of them (the Avon in Providence, RI.) runs film on a daily basis. There are pics of it in the gallery.

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Jim Bedford
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 597
From: Telluride, CO, USA (733 mi. WNW of Rockwall, TX but it seems much, much longer)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-10-2006 02:23 PM      Profile for Jim Bedford   Author's Homepage   Email Jim Bedford   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My wife Luci Reeve and I run the one screen Nugget Theatre in Telluride, CO, a resort and ski town at almost 9000' in SW Colorado. She's the manager running the floor and the booth and I book films and give her a hard time.

We have been doing this since 1984 with our closest competition in Montrose, CO, 65 miles away. We sub-run the most commercial films, stack an art/independent film every week or two and stack a kids' film on weekends when something is worth playing. We have 20 or so part-time staff who work a day or two a week at most. We have 186 seats and run 6000' reels and reel-to-reel on short runs.

We will be starting planning this summer with the Nugget Building owners to do a two screen remodel in the next year or so as they plan to gut the building (built around 1890) and reconfigure everything inside. Can't wait!

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Don Furr
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 509
From: Sun City, Ca USA
Registered: Nov 2002

 - posted 06-10-2006 04:27 PM      Profile for Don Furr   Email Don Furr   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Retired for 5 years but owned a chain of 11 discount theatres in 5 southern states. We operated out of Atlanta. At our peak we employed around 70-80 folks. Too much work for 2 owners.


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Richard C. Wolfe
Master Film Handler

Posts: 250
From: Northampton, PA, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 06-10-2006 11:25 PM      Profile for Richard C. Wolfe   Author's Homepage   Email Richard C. Wolfe   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, I'm certainly an indepentent theatre owner. My 557 seat single screen theatre was first opened in 1921 as the Lyric. It changed hands, was renovated into the art deco style and renamed the Roxy in 1933. It is located in Northampton, Pa, a town of 10,000 people. It has always been a subrun venue. I wouldn't exactly call it a mom and pop, as mom has never been involved with it. I run the theatre as well as my booking service from the theatre office. I have a staff of 9. I'm the only full timer, as manager/projectionist. The other 8 are 2 cashiers, 3 concession sales people, 1 doorman, 1 janitor, and 1 assn't manager/projectioist. I've had the theatre for the past 36 years... since I was 21. The theatre is my full time business. I have made my living from it all my life.

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 06-11-2006 01:26 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
We will be starting planning this summer with the Nugget Building owners to do a two screen remodel in the next year or so as they plan to gut the building (built around 1890) and reconfigure everything inside. Can't wait!
Oh yeah, you've now got the perfect opportunity...Kinoton. [thumbsup]

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