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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Being honest with your customers? (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Being honest with your customers?
Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 11-30-2012 12:14 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe this person is not being totally honest with their customers.

"On 3-D: we opted out of 3-D. The number one reason is that having it as an option makes the film companies crazy and they demand our screen keep their pics up for far too long and they bully and threaten if we want to bring in another film. They use it as a chess piece to block other films. It turns a crazy relationship 300% crazier. Also: 3-D would have added about 30K per screen. " Theater operator/owner name withheld

Who agrees with the above statement?

BTW, this operator is also fundraising for digital while receiving VPFs. They have not been forthcoming to their customers who they are soliciting that are receiving VPFs. If they hit their goal, they could very well make more money back in the form of VPFs and donations. And it is a for-profit theater.

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Michael Putlack
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 187
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted 11-30-2012 12:40 PM      Profile for Michael Putlack   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Putlack   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would think this owner is probably just more misinformed than he or her is a lair. But that is giving him or her the benefit of the doubt.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 11-30-2012 03:38 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The first statement, about 2.5 years ago when we first went digital, the film companies were indeed forcing the issue with 3D. If you had 3D capability they insisted you play their movie in 3D. So we had our machine set up to where we could play the 3D movies in 2D if we wanted to, but never used that option.

About a year later they "saw the light" and began offering combo drives, and nowadays for single screens they "would like" you to give the premium showtimes to 3D but they don't really push the issue anymore. So...on the 3D movies we usually run the weekend shows in 3D and the midweek shows in 2D.

As for the second part, I don't see a whole lot wrong with fundraising. He's going to have expensive upgrades and such that won't be covered by the VPFs, so he might very well need to sock that money away for the future.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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


 - posted 11-30-2012 03:52 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As long as being straight forward with his audience and he's not misrepresenting himself as a charity for which donations are tax-deductible he's not doing anything wrong fundraising.

I know of at least one other for-profit theatre who did fundraising for digital. There are also theatres that set up non-profit, tax deductible "Friends of..." organizations to fundraise. As long as everyone knows how the money goes and where, I see nothing wrong.

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 11-30-2012 04:40 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My problem with the fundraising is that if they hit their goal (which is very likely) they will have enough money to pay for all of their upgrades including sound between the fundraising and the VPFs. It is quite possible to make significantly more than the cost of the upgrades. Now if they had told their folks who were donating that are getting the VPFs then I have no issue.

I know of no other for profit theater getting VPFs and fundraising at the same time. Anyone?

As far as the cost of the 3d, my last quote for Dolby 3d was $20,000 and that included about 600 glasses.

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Andrew Thomas
Master Film Handler

Posts: 273
From: Pearland, TX, USA
Registered: Jun 2012


 - posted 11-30-2012 04:48 PM      Profile for Andrew Thomas   Email Andrew Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just because you are in a VPF program, doesn't mean you could afford all the upfront costs to convert. I would watch out if I were soliciting funds from the public as several if the VPF programs have language that specifically blocks such activity. I've even seen a theater that requires a 25 cent donation with every ticket sold that they don't report to the studios. They could easily find themselves in hot water over that...

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 11-30-2012 06:06 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Dolby 3D has decreased in price; maybe the guy is looking at an older quote.

There's other things to consider with Dolby, too. The dishwasher and associated plumbing/electrical, not to mention labor to deal with it. It's just not for everybody.

I have mixed feelings about 3D to this day...a lot of people love it, and it's cool to have, but a lot don't like it, and it adds a lot of work to the equation.

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Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 12-01-2012 12:23 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Frese
My problem with the fundraising is that if they hit their goal (which is very likely) they will have enough money to pay for all of their upgrades including sound between the fundraising and the VPFs. It is quite possible to make significantly more than the cost of the upgrades. Now if they had told their folks who were donating that are getting the VPFs then I have no issue.

I know of no other for profit theater getting VPFs and fundraising at the same time. Anyone?

Mike: With more than 5,000 theatres in the U.S. I'm sure you don't have info on all of them. Most small town theatres are seen by the residents as "their theatre" and they are not particularly interested in getting a tax write-off for their contribution. Since VPFs are a normal part of showing digital there is no reason for the operator to "open his books" to contributors. To say he doesn't have the funds to purchase the equipment is sufficient. It's the customers who benefit by keeping their local theatre open.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4441
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 12-01-2012 01:55 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Probably best not to allow customers "to look too much behind the curtain." Nothing to hide, but very bad psychology. It IS entertainment after all. Louis

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 12-02-2012 08:03 AM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Louis,

I have never said open your books. Just be honest when you do talk about the financial aspects of your business. If you go to the public talking about how you are in dire financial straits to stay in business, you better be honest with folks.

Let me rephrase the scenario a bit:
I need $60,000 to stay in business. Can you (the public) help me out by giving me $35,000?

vs.

I need $20,000 ($60,000 minus $40,000 in expected VPFS) to stay in business. Can you (the public) help me out by giving me $35,000?

(BTW, this theater was able to line up financing for the conversion before they started seeking donations.)

Robert,

You see no difference to the above?

How about someone saying they need a $100,000 medical surgery to be able to live and would like to get $75,000 in donations. Would it matter if the person fails to mention that person has insurance that will pay for $60,000 of the $100,000 cost?

I would not have an issue if this owner were to tell people that they are receiving a substantial portion of their conversion paid for by the VPFs and still ask for donations.

But to profit for donations in a significant way by telling such a sob story (needing to spend $60,000 per screen to stay open)is wrong IMHO.

Robert,
I have followed theaters' fundraising activities quite extensively. Of course the most common scenario is a non-profit. There are a few more for-profit theaters but their success rate for donations is significantly less.

Again I know of only one theater seeking significant donations (50% or greater of conversion costs) and getting VPFs. Please, if anyone knows of one, name it.

I think the reason you do not see this happening if the ethical dilemma of asking for more money that you need.

3d costs: Can we agree that the $30,000 cost is exaggerated by at least 50%? Between Real3d's low upfront cost and the propensity for theaters to charge upgrade fees to pay for the 3d costs that $30,000 is greatly exaggerated no matter how you look at it.

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Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1078
From: Checotah, Oklahoma
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 12-02-2012 02:32 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike: I've seen theatre owners express that the distributors don't like VPFs and are less likely to see those theatres in a favorable light. Bottom line: it means less money for the distributors when dealing with a VPS theatre. So I'd prefer to ask my community to help me than to take VPFs. Besides, community support is a lot better than paying bank interest rates. I suspect you work for a not-for-profit and are a little annoyed that a for-profit is using your tactic.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4441
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 12-04-2012 12:40 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Small theatres have had some problems getting titles especially if they are marginally low grossers. The vpf makes this worse, since it reduces the amount the film company gets. Louis

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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


 - posted 12-04-2012 01:43 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And some of the smaller distribs have had to get the theatres to sign VPF waivers because of the low gross nature of art product, which I'm sure the financiers look poorly upon.

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Chris Slycord
Film God

Posts: 2986
From: 퍼항시, 경상푹도, South Korea
Registered: Mar 2007


 - posted 12-04-2012 02:13 PM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Andrew Thomas
I've even seen a theater that requires a 25 cent donation with every ticket sold that they don't report to the studios. They could easily find themselves in hot water over that...
Whether they report it or not, they could get themselves in hot water, as a *required* donation isn't really a donation.

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Andrew Thomas
Master Film Handler

Posts: 273
From: Pearland, TX, USA
Registered: Jun 2012


 - posted 12-04-2012 09:51 PM      Profile for Andrew Thomas   Email Andrew Thomas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Also, I just google searched the quote from the original post and it turns out that it is the same owner as the one I mentioned with the mandatory $.25 donation. Yeah, dude seems a little shady to me in my dealings with him via e-mail and another forum.

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