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Author Topic: Is It Really True About...
Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-26-2000 05:23 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Is it really true that the theatre chains are dying out? How bad is this finacial chrisis?

Do you think theatres will ever die out completely?

Hello? Brain Fart! if theatre chains are losing and losing money, and putting more and more money into theatres that will just eat more money, why don't they just go back to six-plex theatres in malls?

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9390
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-26-2000 05:44 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Andrew I think you haven't the foggiest idea of what the industry is undergoing
It is restructureing itself (much like the stock market)
The strong will survive (darwin)

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-26-2000 05:51 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, Why do I always see newspaper articles about these chains that haves died and the ones who will die sooner?

Famous Players is "the big" but yet they're still losing a lot of money. I've been told that in an e-mail from the guest services!

Andrew
I'll Be Back, Forums!

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George Roher
Master Film Handler

Posts: 266
From: Washington DC
Registered: Jul 99


 - posted 12-26-2000 06:06 PM      Profile for George Roher   Email George Roher   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Andrew wrote: "Hello? Brain Fart! if theatre chains are losing and losing money, and putting more and more money into theatres that will just eat more money, why don't they just go back to six-plex theatres in malls?"

I'd like to see them go back to single screens with balconies, curtains, and projectionists

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6355
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-26-2000 08:20 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I.M.H.O. "Googolplex" theatres are all well and good but once you get above a certain size I think the principle of "economy of scale" starts working backwards. ie; It's cheaper to buy and build a theatre if you can buy stuff in bulk and you can use relatively fewer staff to run it but once you start gettin so big the extra cost starts outweighing the savings. I'd say that's what's been happening. Companies are just begining to figure that out.

I'd say that 10 screens is just about the maximum. Maybe you can go as high as 15 but after that it's all down hill. In MY mind, a six-plex is a "comfortable" size.

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Manuel Francisco Valencia
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 151
From: Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 12-26-2000 10:40 PM      Profile for Manuel Francisco Valencia   Email Manuel Francisco Valencia   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We just had a meeting on this very subject not to long ago. The reason for theatres going bankrupt is "they can't compete with megaplexes." That is the way it was told to me anyway. That does hold true in my area, the only other theatre that does better business than us is a 24 screen AMC, which my litle anarchist cookbook will soon work wonders for. But I think the cpc has to be outrageous as compared to smaller theatres. The manpower to run a megaplex becomes more of a hassle than the profit is a reward. Randy, I was told Cinemark is about 6 million in the hole but yet we are doing better than any of the other corps? Is this true?

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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 12:48 AM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The theatre industry has some remarkable parallels with the railroad industry, and a lot can be learned from the comparisons.

Passenger trains were killed by cars that could run on individual timetables, and had more comfort. Theatres can be somewhat compared to those trains, and films to destinations. The primary difference in the comparison is that when movies are first marketed to the public, the only way to see them (visit that destination) is in a theatre. With the exception of the old Key West railroad, no railroad ever had the advantage of no competing road for automobiles.

If and when that exclusive release to theatres is lost, then theatres will, with a few exceptions, die off. Hopefully, that won't happen for many years. However, if cable or satellite systems ever succeed in a "restraint of trade" suit against the distribution timetables, or the number of theatres falls to a point where more money can be made through immediate direct distribution to the consumer, then all bets are off.

In another comparison, neither trains nor theatres make efficient use of land, and the cost of land is always increasing, decreasing profit margins. Both trains and theatres use a location intensely for a very short period of time, and most of the time the tracks lie empty and the seats unfilled. Compare that to a road that carries cars and trucks all the time, and television or storefronts that make product available to customers all the time. Inefficient methods of distribution usually are abandoned over time. The long range outlook for theatres isn't good unless some new technology, such as a real 3-D or William Castle effect, makes them unique in the way they show product.

As for the current "crisis," the second tier of exhibitors are now making their moves. I've read of three new companies reportedly breaking into the Miami market within the past month. If anything, this crisis has broken the stranglehold of the majors, who can no longer afford to force out small competition by building across the street from them. Now is a _great_ time for anyone starting up a small circuit. Conditions may never be this good again.


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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 07:38 AM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was going over my articles last night and it also mentioned
"That if 5 screens at once are running the same film, giving the film at least 1 show per hour, and theatres are only taking a small chunk at the box office in the first couple of weeks of it's release, then maybe there's a bad marketing idea!"

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?

Andrew McCrea
I'll Be Back, Forums!

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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 03:53 PM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think that is an incomplete response.

First, it doesn't take five screens to do an hour on the hour schedule for a film.

Second, it doesn't take into account the pressures from the distributor to run multiple screens in order to obtain the product. Most of the time, there is no alternative.

Third, it doesn't address the idea that when some people try to attend a movie and get turned away, that they may never return.

Fourth, on the other side, it doesn't examine the possibility of building and keeping a mixed audience at a location. I've seen theatres that had a devoted art and foreign product clientelle lose those customers because summer blockbusters took all the screens for a period of weeks, breaking the habit of weekly attendence by these customers. Dumb.

Personally, I'd think long and hard before devoting more than two screens to a film if I had other product worth showing. OTOH, we had a single print of Batman at one location where NOBODY was seeing any other film, and EVERYBODY wanted to see Batman. In a seven screen theatre, we ran the single print on the Friday and Saturday night shows through five projectors before it hit the take-up platter. It was a joy to behold.

The real financial damage to theatres is often caused by distribs not wanting a print pulled early, even though it might only make a few hundred dollars in a week. This limits concession income, and presents an appearance of the theatre being deserted to any customer that does come.

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-27-2000 04:15 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Jerry,

I was intrigued with your railroad analogy. I submitted your comments to my father (the railroad king) to get his comments.

"I want to think about this for a while--like on Cape Cod--but if this theory were true why haven't home video and TV destroyed the movie theatre? It seems to me that people go out to the movies precisely because they want to go out, they want to get out of the house, make it a social event (dinner plus movies, movies and drinks afterwards etc), The whole idea that people want to do their shopping "on line” at home, watch movies at home etc is basically flawed. Human beings are primates and social animals---why do you think malls are so popular?

Railroads have not gone out of business because there are some things they do better than any other mode of transportation--moving bulk commodities like coal and grain. They are also more fuel-efficient than trucks and can move goods over longer distances at lower cost

There must be something that the traditional box movies theatre does (or can do) better than TV or video that has kept them alive until now. I am not sure what it is."
My father the railroad king.

(We all know what we do better than TV or video.)

While he totally ignored the distribution question, I think he hit the nail on the head. Going to the movies is a social activity. If a teenager no longer has a movie theatre to go to on a date and the next best thing is watching television in one or the other's home, they will find a new activity to engage in away from home. Half the time I go to the movies to get out of the house.


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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 11:21 PM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The answer to why tv didn't kill movies is in the time between first run and when the product hits the glass onion. TV almost did kill movies when it first came out. There is no question that it dealt movies a blow from which they never recovered. If people attended in the same proportion that they did prior to television, theatres would be the major force in the economy. It was primarily the threat of TV that generated interest in color film, 3-D, various versions of scope and Cinerama.

Video rentals and the short window for second run HAVE effectively killed the "dollar" theatres that were popular a few years back. If that window were expanded again, you would see a resurgence of those theatres. Exhibition depends on that window of exclusivity more than you might think.

As for movies being a social activity, I'm not sure I buy that any more. If it were true, how do you explain the demise of the "social" experience than seeing a film at a drive-in, where customers go from car to car, and chat during the film? People are becoming increasingly wary of large groups, with the exception of sports events and concerts, where there are plenty of police visible.

Some more theatre/railroad comparisons:

Film developed during late 1800s
Railroads developed during late 1800s
Early movie companies made their own cameras and projectors.
Early railroads made their own locomotives and cars.
Theatres highest popularity was between 1900 and 1950 (While there are more people attending now, the percentage of people attending has steadily dropped.)
Rail travel highest popularity was between 1900 and 1950. (While there is more freight now, the number of shippers using railroads has steadily dropped.)
Early exhibitor corporations were dominated by legendary ruthless barons
Early rail corporations were dominated by legendary ruthless barons
Projectionists unionized, yet the union has weakened over the past 30 years.
Railway workers unionized, yet the union has weakened over the past 30 years.
Exhibitors do not produce a product, but depend on other sources.
Railways do not produce a product, but depend on other sources.
Early projectors were fueled by carbon rods.
Early locomotives were fueled by carbon in the form of coal.
Early projectors were hand cranked.
Early locomotives were hand fired.
Early theatres were fire traps with dangerous nitrate film.
Early trains were firetraps with coal stoves and kerosene lanterns.
Modern projectors are driven by electric motors.
Modern locomotives are driven by electric motors.
The government controlled film with censorship during the time around WW II
The government controlled the railroads during the time around WW II
Exhibition came to be dominated by a few companies that gobbled up the smaller companies.
Railroads came to be dominated with a few companies that gobbled up the smaller companies.
Theatres are operated with fewer personnel than during the glory years, to save payroll expense.
Railroads are operated with fewer personnel than during the glory years, to save payroll expense.
Theatres companies build big, but skimp on upkeep and repairs.
Railroads build big, but skimp on upkeep and repairs.
There is a great nostalgia for the glory days of film, with vintage memorabilia fetching high prices.
There is a great nostalgia for the glory days of railroads, with vintage memorabilia fetching high prices.
Tickets are needed to see a film.
Tickets are needed to ride a train.
Food is a secondary service of theatres.
Food is a secondary service of passenger trains.
Theatres must operate on a timetable to maximize operations and avoid problems.
Railroads must operate on a timetable to maximize operations and avoid problems.


The list goes on and on. The parallels are uncanny.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 11:46 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Very interesting, Jerry. I am a steam locomotive buff. How true it is.....


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Erik Schill
Film Handler

Posts: 38
From: Rochester, NY, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-27-2000 11:47 PM      Profile for Erik Schill   Email Erik Schill   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the problem with the companies losing money is because the market is WAY TOO over saturated. Ok I live in Rochester Ny, a city with about 175,000 people, and dwindling fast with the demise if kodak and zerox in our area, yet we have our theatre(12 screens) a Cimimark 4 miles away (18) 3 Reagles (13,16,18), a Lowes(10 I beleive), had a General, went under, plus a few independants here and there. I hate to tell the movie people, but nothing out has titantic appeal, I don't see any 13 year old girls running to see any of the movies that are out 10-15 times. so when you have a city with 175,000 people and you have a movie such as the Grinch your gonna have it on up to 20 screens at the same time, and all the theatres around here run 6 shows on weekends so that is 120 shows per day, and average large house around here is about 550, so that's 66,000 right there, that's almost half the city, so in order to sell out these show, you would have to have every single person with in 20 miles come to see this movie on 1 weekend, not gonna happen. Plus they make these places bigger and bigger, then they have to raise prices, and that makes customers even more pissed off. Ticket prices around here are actually pretty low compared to syracuse and albany. An evening show is $7. HOWEVER a large popcorn is $6.47, and a large drink is 5.07, every saturday night when I'm downstairs (fofilling my supervisor dities) one out of every five people that come up to the line bitch because for a couple and their 2 kids to go to the movies, their looking to drop about $50, and in this area with unemployment so high, cause our 4 leading employers are having serious problems, odds are only about 10-15% of the public ever goes out to see movies

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17590
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 12-28-2000 05:18 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Jerry, I must ask...FIVE screens of Batman on one print? Wow. I wonder if that's a record. I mean, I've interlocked all 15 together before at the Cinemark Hollywood USA, but that was a couple of days before we opened the place and without a paying audience and to settle a humorous bet that it in fact COULD be done. The most I've ever interlocked "for a paying audience" was 3 projectors on one print.

Anyone done more?

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 12-28-2000 06:40 AM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
On Wednesday, December 27, 2000 my family went to see CAST AWAY at one of the SilverCity Theatres. It cost us 54.00 exactly... I've been told that people use to go to the movies a lot because it was a fun, cheap outing that families didn't mind doing together.. Do you think there's any truth to this?

Andrew

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