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Author Topic: Taking over a Theater options
Christopher Lani
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Ely, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013


 - posted 01-19-2014 05:06 PM      Profile for Christopher Lani   Author's Homepage   Email Christopher Lani   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Everyone! I am taking over a single screen art-deco theater at the end of February and have a number of operational questions. We are converting to digital and staying first run and was wondering if anyone books their own films. Are there advantages/disadvantages I should be aware of? Credit and cash flow are fine. Also, has anyone found a way of getting around holding a film on the break for 3 weeks. We are one of the most geographically isolated theaters in the lower 48 with a county population of 4,500 and we have not had a single film do well in it's 3rd week except for "Frozen". The closest theater to us is 189 miles away! Does anyone out there also play alternative content such as live sports and older, classic films along with their first run features. We are going with a Christie Solaria one plus and I was wondering if there are any recommendations for the additional equipment that will be needed. Thanks!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 01-19-2014 08:39 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Christopher Lani
has anyone found a way of getting around holding a film on the break for 3 weeks. We are one of the most geographically isolated theaters in the lower 48 with a county population of 4,500 and we have not had a single film do well in it's 3rd week except for "Frozen".
We are in a town of 2000 and we have done a few 3-week bookings. What I do is, if I KNOW we're going to have it for three weeks I'll put the start and end dates on the marquee for all to see. That seems to spread the crowd out a bit.

Also, depending on what you are grossing, you should be able to get most "typical" movies for 2 weeks minimum, not 3. The ones that tend to be 3-weekers are blockbuster sequels and super-hyped movies like "Twilight" and "Hunger Games."

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Christopher Lani
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Ely, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013


 - posted 01-19-2014 09:35 PM      Profile for Christopher Lani   Author's Homepage   Email Christopher Lani   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Mike!

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Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2234
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 01-19-2014 10:05 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you're that isolated, is there any reason why you have to play first-run? It's not like your crowd will have already gone down the street and seen the movies elsewhere if you wait a couple of weeks and play stuff further down the schedule. It'll usually cost you less and you can play stuff for one week instead of two, giving your customers a new(er) movie to watch every week instead of every couple of weeks.

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Christopher Lani
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Ely, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013


 - posted 01-20-2014 11:49 AM      Profile for Christopher Lani   Author's Homepage   Email Christopher Lani   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Frank, that is what I normally do. But on occasion everyone around here enjoys a premier that is in sync with the rest of the world and see a movie on it's release date. I have done this with The Twilight Movies, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Star Trek. They all did well but died in the third weeks. They wont let me stack in the third week either. Most of the time I do wait 2 to 4 weeks to bring in a movie a week. That's the way my customers like it. I am just seeing if anyone knows a way out of the three week commitment. Anyone know a good booking agency out here in the west? I am 4 hours north of Las Vegas.

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 01-20-2014 01:21 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In your case, I would not book anything on the break for 3 weeks. Just wait the 2-3 weeks. With digital, the wait will be less than with film.

I believe a new person should not book their own movies for at least a year or two. But, if you already have a working relationship with the studios booking yourself I see no reason to change. It takes very little time to do.

For most movies with an expected box office of $150 million or more you will have a hard time getting them to accept a 2 week run.

I would not only play 2-3 weeks old but I would split as much as possible (you may have to wait a couple more weeks to do this) and play for 2 weeks getting a new movie every week.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 01-20-2014 03:46 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Frese
For most movies with an expected box office of $150 million or more you will have a hard time getting them to accept a 2 week run.
I think the expected gross is not as relevant as the "screen count" the studio wants to achieve. We played 12 movies on the break last year, all but two for 2 weeks.

The key is to be very selective on what you play on the break. If a movie is well-hyped and reasonably guaranteed to have great word-of-mouth, then go on the break. Watch the buzz on Facebook, and poll your customers on your own Facebook page to gauge excitement. (If you don't have a Facebook page, get one...it's free advertising and a LOT of your audience will see it.)

Another thing is to hold off till the last minute to commit yourself, and be flexible. We had been told "THREE WEEKS OR NOTHING!" on the first Hobbit movie, but wound up being able to book it starting in week 2 for 2 weeks. We were told the same thing on the most recent Hunger Games movie (and we didn't book it because of that) but then a neighboring theater was able to book it for 2 weeks because the studio was trying to make the numbers.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 01-20-2014 05:31 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Christopher Lani
We are one of the most geographically isolated theaters in the lower 48 with a county population of 4,500 and we have not had a single film do well in it's 3rd week except for "Frozen".
Mike has one of the best set-ups I have ever seen, a movie comes in for one week and then it is out. Frank also has a decent set-up as well.

You are going to make more money if you are booking off release. This also gives you a chance to assess the situation, you are not stuck with a flop and you can select the big hit that people will now want to watch. Booking Lone Survivor in the 2nd or 3rd week is better than taking a gamble on Jack Ryan with a new release. Who would of predicted the success of Ride Along?

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 01-20-2014 06:33 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
Mike has one of the best set-ups I have ever seen, a movie comes in for one week and then it is out
It has its advantages for sure, and also its disadvantages. We just have a different tool set than the big boys. The biggest disadvantage is, we often have to miss out on some big titles because we just don't have the time/space for everything we'd like to play. (Well I could go into how we don't get any promotional help and that kind of thing, but that's another thread.)

However this:
quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
You are going to make more money if you are booking off release.
....is not true in most cases. In the case of a heavily promoted movie, it will do up to twice the business in those first couple of weeks as it would if we waited until three or four weeks in. Part of this is because we are relatively close to Billings (which has 24 first-run screens). In Christopher's case he is apparently more isolated than we are, BUT I guarantee that the movie fans in his town are just as excited about the brand new movies as the fans in the cities are. Excitement equals ticket sales. But there are plenty of small towns around where the fans are just used to waiting a few weeks for their movies to show up, so if that works, then great.

Another thing to consider is the sliding aggregate. That means a movie costs the same percentage in Week 6 as it does in Week 1. Disney, Warners and Paramount are all doing this now. So if I *know* I'm going to play a particular film, I'd rather take a chance on one dead week out of 3, and make a ton of money in weeks 1 and 2...providing there isn't something better to play during that time frame, of course.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
Booking Lone Survivor in the 2nd or 3rd week is better than taking a gamble on Jack Ryan with a new release.
You can almost never book something in the 2nd week, and often not in the 3rd either. If you don't take it on the break you're usually "out" until week 4, because all the "prints" are on screens and they can't be bothered to make more "prints." (Don't get me started on the stupidity of that, but that's the way it is.) And if a movie blows up and becomes an unexpected hit, you might be stuck waiting for a "print" until week 7 or 8.

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Robert E. Allen
Phenomenal Film Handler

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


 - posted 01-20-2014 09:36 PM      Profile for Robert E. Allen   Email Robert E. Allen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Don't do your own booking. A good booker has more pull with the distributors as he/she is often treated like a theatre chain. I use Frank Rash. Give him a call at 480-324-1290. Tell him I told you to call.

Bob

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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


 - posted 01-20-2014 10:11 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Christopher Lani
Does anyone out there also play alternative content such as live sports and older, classic films along with their first run features.
I would love to try something in the alternative realm but we haven't done anything yet. I keep thinking about a free-admission football game on the big screen.

quote: Christopher Lani
We are going with a Christie Solaria one plus and I was wondering if there are any recommendations for the additional equipment that will be needed.
Do you have the proper set-up for sound? (Surrounds wired separately for L & R, and three stage speakers + subwoofers?) You will also want to add a high-quality Blu-Ray player for those inevitable times when you want to run a kids matinee and there are no "prints." A few people are having success with hooking up a game system and renting auditoriums to gamers for blocks of time.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 894
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted 01-21-2014 12:57 AM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Christopher, that is a very neat theater!

Best of luck to you and yours.

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Christopher Lani
Film Handler

Posts: 62
From: Ely, Nevada, USA
Registered: Nov 2013


 - posted 01-21-2014 01:36 AM      Profile for Christopher Lani   Author's Homepage   Email Christopher Lani   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
First of all, this page has been the most valuable resource for a theater operator that I have encountered! It has been a lifesaver and I am blown away by the responses and insights that I have gleaned from all of you. You are right, the Facebook page has been an invaluable resource and it is freeee! If anyone is interested in seeing the page it is located at

https://www.facebook.com/ElysCentralTheater

We have 1134 likes. Amazing. We do have an excellent sound system that was updated in 2000. It has the L/R separately wired surround sound with the 3 stage speakers and Sub. It sounds excellent. We are planning on the blu-ray player. Any suggestions? Gaming is definitely in the mix too. In terms of the Media Block, or the unit that handles all the inputs and sound, would you all go with Dolby? GDC? Doremi? Any input would help. Is the Solaria one plus a good unit to go with? We are also planning on sports events. Thanks Robert, I will give Frank a call! Thanks Robert. And thank you too Buck!

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David E. Nedrow
Master Film Handler

Posts: 368
From: Columbus, OH, USA
Registered: Oct 2008


 - posted 01-23-2014 04:08 PM      Profile for David E. Nedrow   Author's Homepage   Email David E. Nedrow   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Florin Creative is the booker we use. Steve Florin has been really good to us with the films he gets. We've had just about every big release I can think of, given the constraints of a single screen.

Florin Creative
Steve Florin
914-937-1603

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 01-23-2014 11:21 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
1) 189 miles!!! Who is going to drive 189 miles to see a movie 2-3 weeks sooner?

2) Booking: Robert says Frank Rash is saying you have a year before you need to convert to digital. Paramount has said no more film. I would not use any booker who is recommending people who are opening closed theaters now or in the last month that they can wait a year before converting to digital.

3) Booking point #2: as long as your are respectful to the studio reps and pay your film rental on time; booking yourself is pretty easy and takes very little time and effort.

4) Booking point #3: I have heard stories that booking the surprise hits after just 1 or 2 weeks is much easier to do being digital and NOT having a VPF.

5) Booking point #4: Totally agree with Mike B. about the agg. stuff. But again 189 miles!! You can get away with waiting 7 weeks to play a Disney title.

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