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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Looking for thoughts from those who have run a 'Classic Film Series' (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Looking for thoughts from those who have run a 'Classic Film Series'
Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 10-10-2011 07:53 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We are planning to run a classic film series starting January 2012. I'm just looking for observations from any others who have been involved with such a series in the past.

Specifically, I'm curious to know:
  • What titles were popular?
  • Did you do anything different to promote the series which proved successful?
  • What time of the day did you run the shows? Did you try both matinees and evenings?
  • How did your snack bar do? Did you do anything different from normal?
  • Anything else that might be relevant.
  • Have you run others themed series with were successful?
We're still in the process of trying to compile a list of titles to send to our booker to get licensing availability and terms.
All titles will be shown on Blu-Ray when available through our digital projectors.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8367
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 10-10-2011 09:23 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Maybe, while your assembling a list, put a suggestion box in your lobby and ask your patrons on features that they would like to see in this series...

Good luck with it - Monte

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John Wilson
Film God

Posts: 5438
From: Sydney, Australia.
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 10-11-2011 06:34 PM      Profile for John Wilson   Email John Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Raiders always works. [Wink] (No, really...)

When asking for suggestions, don't forget 90% of people who say they'll come if you put 'Such and Such' on screen...won't.

The standard 80's 'classics' are probably your best bet. Older movies have to be stand out things like Casablanca or Breakfast At Tiffany's and the like. Nostalgia is all well and good, but you need the audience to be able to relate to the movie to get them out of the house and pay some dollars to see it. Older folk generally won't (unless it's a matinee).

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 10-11-2011 07:00 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For a first attempt, especially one in a market where something like this has not been tried before (or at least recently), I would try to go for mainstream American titles that people have heard of. Print up flyers and hand them out at the box office. Advertise the entire schedule well in advance so that people can plan their lives around it.

A local theatre (which normally shows first-run mainstream titles and is located in an area with a young-ish adult population) that I am tangentially involved with did pretty well with the following titles over the summer:

Double Indemnity
African Queen
Dr. Strangelove
Singin' In The Rain
Wizard of Oz
Jaws

They also did a midnight show series which included these titles:

Animal House
Pulp Fiction
Goonies
Breakfast Club
Back to School
Clockwork Orange
and others

The same place also did a series of Buster Keaton silent films with live accompaniment by an excellent pianist (well, keyboardist). Attendance grew significantly for each successive show (I think that they had 250+ for the third one). If you do silents, I would start with comedies (Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton, etc.).

All of these titles were on 35mm film and the theatre made a point of getting top-quality prints of everything.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 10-11-2011 09:37 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We did a series of classics for our 60th anniversary. This was quite a while ago, but we ran:

Casablanca
The Wizard of Oz
The Sound of Music
The Ten Commandments
Gone With The Wind

We played the movies three days each, Wed-Thur-Fri, over five weeks. We did it in August thru early September, so the great summer movies were pretty much history by then.

We got the best crowds with the last two. The worst was Sound of Music, which was OK with me because we got stuck with a HORRIBLE print of it. (The others were all pretty good, especially Commandments which was a nearly-new print.)

For promotion, we ran a large newspaper ad (probably not such a good bet now) and we also got a lengthy article placed in the paper. This was pre-website, so no online promo at all.

I was able to find onesheets for all the features, but no trailers unfortunately. We also made up some smaller posters that we put around town. For Gone With The Wind, we timed that show so it played on our anniversary date and we gave out free champagne to the adults during the intermissions.

Overall the whole thing was a success.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2481
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-11-2011 09:59 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Every place is different and the only way to find out is to try. But this is 100% on target

quote: John Wilson
When asking for suggestions, don't forget 90% of people who say they'll come if you put 'Such and Such' on screen...won't.
Title suggestions above are pretty good bets, 80's may work with your crowd or not. Big Lebowski has done well for us. Stripes tanked. Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein were hits. Philadelphia Story or a Tracy/Hepburn are good. And of course, It's A Wonderful Life for Christmas (though other christmas movies can work in different ways).

If you're not going to get into the film education biz, keep it light and show things that are instantly recognizable.

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Edward Havens
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 614
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Mar 2008


 - posted 10-11-2011 10:57 PM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are you planning on running off DVD/Blu-Ray or are you going to try and get DCPs? Disney doesn't do a lot of either, and most other studios have yet to get around to digitizing their older titles. If you're going to go off a disc, make sure you choose titles that are available on Blu-Ray and have a scaler with HDMI inputs, for the best possible picture.

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Ky Boyd
Hey I'm #23

Posts: 314
From: Santa Rosa, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-12-2011 01:22 AM      Profile for Ky Boyd   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Classics are tricky but can be profitable if done well. You definitely need a promotional partner to help spread the word. Media outlets can be good. Friends organizations are also excellent. It is important to know the audience you are looking to attract. If the target audience is seniors then Big Lebowski ins't gonna work. Start with the "touchstone" classics like Breakfast at Tiffany's, White Christmas, etc. Context is important. Last year, I wouldn't have programmed Days of Heaven but this summer because of Tree of Life we were able to bring in Days of Heaven because it once again had context.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 10-12-2011 02:12 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At this point we're planning to run from Blu-Ray when we can. My target audience at this point is senior citizens, so I'm think pre-1980s for the most part. I've already considered the obvious titles like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Casablanca, and so forth.

I figure we'll probably start out with something like a 1:00-2:00 matinee and then look at an evening showing if the interest is there.

I also want to do a series of free midnight movies to target the high school/college crowd, although we don't really have a huge college population. This is where I would look at things like The Big Lebowski, Breakfast Club, and other 80s and 90s classics.

At Christmas I would like to do a couple weeks of Christmas themed classics like Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story - maybe Miracle on Christmas Eve morning.

The only thing we've ever done like this is a canned food show of Ice Age a few years ago - 2 cans of food was the price of admission. Despite advertising for several weeks, we only had about 30 people show up.

I know our growth opportunities from first run movies is very limited, but I think these other ideas could help us grow.

I'm also thinking about working with the local high schools to put together a student film festival of some kind.

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-12-2011 07:27 AM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Reach out to the retirement communities in your area. There's at least one community here that busses residents in for some our weekend matinees (3pm). The older titles from the classic era (1940s and 50s) seem more popular, but they patronize newer stuff too.

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Richard Hamilton
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1341
From: Evansville, Indiana
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 10-12-2011 11:07 AM      Profile for Richard Hamilton   Email Richard Hamilton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You might try to contact these guys , I did some work for them years ago and had to sit through subtitled movies. The only two I remember are Like Water for Chocolate and Cinema Paradiso.

Rick

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16657
From: Music City
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-12-2011 06:28 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Put some cards in your lobby and ask YOUR patrons what they'd like to see. If they don't come then you can blame them since they picked the titles!
Also, considering doing a shows worth of short films. Look on You-Tube... there are many many very clever shorts that people would enjoy seeing.

Cinema Paradiso [thumbsup] [thumbsup] [thumbsup] [thumbsup]

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 10-13-2011 11:44 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cards in the lobby aren't great though because some of the classic movies will attract a lot of people who are never IN the lobby otherwise!

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Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1061
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 10-19-2011 10:20 AM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While running a limited film series makes it easier to market initially, especially in the dregs of the post-holiday season, have you considered making throwback movies an ongoing thing?

Chains like Alamo Drafthouse and Hollywood Blvd seem to have them on a regular basis, where they will bring in something from years ago that is themed to a particular date on the calendar, season, or just because it would be a fun thing to do.

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of the relative success of particular movies or the approach of doing a limited-time series of movies vs. an ongoing "throwback Thursdays" series, but I would think that doing a one-off event does nothing to elevate your brand long-term, whereas doing fun things on an ongoing basis helps people to think of your theater as more than just a place to see a movie before it comes out on home video.

As far as titles go, some of the obvious ones are pretty tired, but maybe they continue to get audiences, which is why theaters keep running them from time to time. I don't think people's attention spans can handle some of the epics that go for hours...

I'm actually surprised that theaters haven't brought Avatar back on a yearly basis. It's one of those movies that did gangbuster business a very short time ago, and its impact can't be matched at home, even on a large TV. Is it not available?

My personal choices for throwback movies would be some of the more popular/people-friendly John Wayne westerns (Rooster Cogburn, True Grit, Big Jake), the Christmas season invites quite a few enjoyable and non-obvious movies, like Scrooged, While You Were Sleeping, or maybe one of the Bing Crosby movies like White Christmas or Going My Way. Valentine's Day invites any number of the classic romantic comedies that have stood the test of time.

Whatever you do, make it as much about the experience as it is about the movie. Any movie you play can be watched at home, so there has to be a reason for people to come to the theater instead. Standing in line for a new iPhone is as much about the experience of standing in line as it is about getting the phone on Day 1. Look at the people that stood in line for hours to get into the last Harry Potter or Twilight movie!

If I were running a theater, I would pay Robert Osborne to do the intros for those movies. If he's not available, then find an actor that has the same presence and give him a good script for the intro. Osborne's intros are always the highlight of watching a movie on TCM, and I would think that having an in-person intro would resonate with the audience if it's done well.

Whatever you end up doing, send me the information when you have everything figured out, and we'll do a Journal Article about it for our readers!

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Edward Havens
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 614
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Mar 2008


 - posted 10-19-2011 01:38 PM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No matter what you do, don't expect the box office grosses to be that huge. Do it because you want to have fun. We've been doing a midnight horror series for a month now, Friday and Saturday nights, and we're barely getting enough patrons to cover the rental of the title for the week. But we sure are having fun doing it!

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