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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Rental Rates for Classic 35mm Prints

   
Author Topic: Rental Rates for Classic 35mm Prints
Jonathan Smith
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 201
From: Youngstown, OH
Registered: Jan 2010


 - posted 04-16-2010 10:07 AM      Profile for Jonathan Smith   Email Jonathan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I know of a college that rents 35mm prints of movies from the past 2-3 decades and occasionally the sneak preview.

I asked what that sort of rental would cost, and was told they get a very cut rate and that it would be thousands of dollars for a private entity to rent out a 35mm print over a weekend or 3-day period.

This is too bad, because I really think there is potential to do bang-up business with already released movies if someone were simply to ADVERTISE them for a week.

Besides, with a skilled projectionist, they might actually get the prints back in as-good-as or better condition than they shipped them.

I've seen some real hit-miss mishaps with some of the eggheads in there clicking away on their laptops while the lens isn't screwed in straight or the movie is unravelling on the floor.

If anyone has any contacts or ball-park figures for this sort of thing, I'd appreciate it.

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Bill Enos
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From: Richmond, Virginia, USA
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 - posted 04-16-2010 10:31 AM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Prints of "classics" whatever that means, go from $150 for some of the real dogs to a few hundred for the more popular titles, many are flat rate. Condition of the print will vary greatly. You pay shipping.

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Jonathan Smith
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From: Youngstown, OH
Registered: Jan 2010


 - posted 04-16-2010 10:39 AM      Profile for Jonathan Smith   Email Jonathan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the quick response!

What about the percentage for patrons?

Or is that a flat rate too. I assume it is on top of the rental fee.

Is it as steep as with first-run shows, 60+%? I hear that if they don't expect you to have a big turnout, though, they still try to get their money by charging you hundreds of dollars.

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Barry Floyd
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From: Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
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 - posted 04-16-2010 10:47 AM      Profile for Barry Floyd   Author's Homepage   Email Barry Floyd   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bill is correct, some of the prints of "classics" can be for as little as $150, but because most of these titles are stored in film vaults in California, the shipping to and from cost more than the film rental.

We experienced that last year with "Top Gun" & Sixteen Candles", the shipping was more than what we paid in film rental.

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 04-16-2010 10:52 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I find most of the classics are around $250. As noted above, the shipping will cost about as much.

Depending on the film and if we are charging admission, the $250 counts against the percentage, which is usually about 35%. Some, like kids shows, are flat rate.

Colleges generally rent through Swank or Criterion, which have similar rate structures, though charge a whole lot more for recent releases (less than a year old). That may be where they are getting the "thousands of dollars" number.

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Jonathan Smith
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From: Youngstown, OH
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 - posted 04-16-2010 11:01 AM      Profile for Jonathan Smith   Email Jonathan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the tips, guys.

Martin: What I was told is that it was a "special" rate because they were a college.

Is that not the case?

I think this structure can make money, frankly, and I want to give it a try if I can get a theatre owner to go in with me on it.

Some movies people really want to see on the big screen but they never got a chance because they came out before they were born, were too young, or they just missed it.

Could you explain to me in more detail the percentages work? I'm really ignorant. If you say that the $250 counts towards the percentage, I wouldn't have to pay any more unless I get more than $250 worth of distributor revenue through ticket sales? Or am I misunderstanding?

What about commercial films from the past decade, like a blockbuster?

I'd love to rent out something like "The Last Sasmurai" or maybe "Apollo 13" as a sort of 15th anniversary thing. Just thinking out loud here.

What about a classic film like "Out of Africa?" I assume that would be more. . .

So if I am in Ohio, I should budget on $250 in shipping, less with a Fox Box?

Then of course, there's advertising. What does a line in an extra line in a newspaper ad for a week cost me guestimate?

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 04-16-2010 11:06 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most likely that "thousands of dollars" came from someone who was not enthusiastic about playing old movies and was trying to discourage the idea. "Hey, we should play an old movie." "Oh no, that would cost thousands of dollars."

There may be a way around the high shipping. We played a vault print of "Polar Express" a couple of years ago for a matinee and they were talking something like $250 for shipping. I asked them to use our account number with UPS, so our shipping was the same as any other print -- around $25 each way. That request might not always work with some distribs, I suppose.

On percentages - most "classic" films come with a flat rental rate. You pay your $250 or so, and it doesn't matter if two people or two thousand people see the movie, your rent is the same.

If you have a minimum dollar amount vs percentage deal, then the dollar amount is the minimum you pay; you multiply your gross by the percentage, and if the result is more than the minimum, that's what you pay. If you have already paid the minimum as a guarantee, then you pay the difference after the film plays.

Advertising -- you need to call your newspaper on that one. Rates vary wildly according to the circulation of the paper. But, these days you'll need to do online advertising (website, facebook, twitter etc.) -- probably more people get their movie/showtime info that way than from the newspaper. Your mileage may vary according to your location and the type of target market you're aiming for.

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Mitchell Dvoskin
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From: West Milford, NJ, USA
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 - posted 04-16-2010 11:13 AM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Colleges and private individuals generally can not book prints directly though the studios. They are required to use a non-theatrical distributor such as Swank. The cost to rent prints through non theatrical distributors is substantially more expensive than dealing direct with the studio, but still it is not "thousands of dollars".

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Scott Norwood
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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
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 - posted 04-16-2010 11:52 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Stupid question: are flat rate rentals per show, per day, or per week?

Strangely, I have never booked a film for more than one show, so I have never run into this.

Some random notes:

As for the flat rates vs. percentages: the terms are usually specified as something like "$250 vs. 35%"--i.e. you pay either $250 or 35% of your ticket gross, whichever is higher. Plus shipping, of course.

Universal is my favorite distributor for older titles. They tend to have quality prints, and will book nontheatrical rights for 35mm directly with the customer (16mm and probably video must go through Swank). They insist on using Danzas for shipping, which typically works out to about $100 each way to the east coast.

For distributors who use DFS, there is a reasonable chance that popular titles may be available in your local depot. If so, then they can be booked as "will call" and picked up and returned at the depot for zero shipping cost.

For those who must deal with Swank, discounts usually come after booking a few titles from the same distributor, or by being a long-time customer. Swank has a tendency to mark up shipping costs and make it difficult or impossible to do will-call pickups from DFS depots or from another theatre. Sometimes, a phone call to the depot will help to get around this limit (only for DFS titles, of course).

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 04-16-2010 05:41 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just to followup on part of Jonathan's original post.

The occasional sneak preview is a very special sub-catagory. Very few colleges get to do them and they are only for certain films. As far as I know, you have to be chosen by the distributor, there's no way you can "buy" your way into that club.

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Tony Ratcliff
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From: Madison, IN, USA
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 - posted 04-17-2010 03:03 PM      Profile for Tony Ratcliff   Email Tony Ratcliff   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To answer Scott's question, when you book a classic, you have to specify whether it is for one day, multiple days or a full week. The flat rate will vary depending on the number of days.
The contract's I've gotten have never specified lower than for one day. We usually play a classic more than once in a day when we have it.

It also makes a big difference if you are charging admission or not. The rate is usually higher if you are charging admission.

For instance, when we book for one day, it is usually $250. If it is more then one day, usually $350. Always vs 35%.
If I charge admission the rate can be $100 or more higher.

But, as with everything else with distributors, it can be negotiated a little, esp if you show a lot of classics and have a good relationship with the rep sales agents.

FYI. The classics are usually handled by a separate distributor sales agent than with current films.

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Jonathan Smith
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From: Youngstown, OH
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 - posted 04-21-2010 11:41 AM      Profile for Jonathan Smith   Email Jonathan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for all the great info in this thread guys.

Could someone be so kind as to provide me with contact information or booking agent names?

I am incorporated, so hopefully a legitimate business entity will help me to facilitate this process.

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 04-21-2010 11:50 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you are going to book them yourself, you need to get the contacts at each distributor. That just takes lots of phone calling. Or a subscription to IMDB Pro

I don't use a booker, but one who is highly recommended is for classics is Jan Klingelhofer at Pacific Film Resources.

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Jonathan Smith
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From: Youngstown, OH
Registered: Jan 2010


 - posted 04-21-2010 11:59 AM      Profile for Jonathan Smith   Email Jonathan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the lead Martin. I still know how to use a phone (probably make at least 50 calls a day) so that isn't a problem; I even have a land-line! [Big Grin]

Anyone else have any contacts they could recommend for someone just getting started at exploring doing this?

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 04-21-2010 01:19 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Since you are just starting out, I'll add, you have to have contracts with almost every distributor (the small indies not so much). These contracts basically make you sign your soul to the distrib. Just do it, you've only got one soul;>

If you are booking on your own, chances are for the first year or two you will be paying higher upfront guarantees (unless prohibited in your state). After you are established and have been paying your money on time, you'll be in a position to negotiate things down a little.

Good luck

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