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Author Topic: Show more older movies
Geoff Jones
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 523
From: Broomfield, CO, USA
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 08-31-2017 08:04 PM      Profile for Geoff Jones   Author's Homepage   Email Geoff Jones   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Want to make more money? Show more older movies!

On a whim, I looked up the current ticket sales for movies showing at the AMC Flatirons Crossing for tomorrow (Friday) night (by looking at the "choose your seat" page). I chose the showtimes closest to 7pm.

Two of the top three movies (in ticket sales) are classic films, one of which has already been in theaters for a week. Oh, and the third "movie" in the top three is a freaking TV show.

I don't understand why theaters don't show older movies more often. It's easy money.

Friday night ticket sales (as of Thursday)
0 - Dunkirk
0 - Atomic Blonde
0 - Annabelle
0 - Birth of the Dragon
2 - The Hitman's Bodyguard
2 - Tulip Fever
3 - Wonder Woman
4 - Wind River
4 - Logan Lucky
5 - Spiderman Homecoming
5 - Leap
7 - Terminator 2: Judgement Day
11 - Inhumans
20 - CE3K

(Incidentally, the two Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Denver are both running 3 showings of Blade Runner tonight. The ~7pm and ~9pm showings are both sold out and they've added a late show at both theaters. I would love to show my daughter Blade Runner on the big screen before the sequel comes out, but tonight doesn't work for us.)

Caveats: Yes, I realize that...
  • What I have done is dorky.
  • It's a particularly bad month for movies in a particularly bad summer.
  • A sample size of one theater is small.
  • People seeing those older films may be more likely to pre-purchase tickets.
But still...

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2112
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 08-31-2017 08:21 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There's also the urgency created by a limited run, and often the need to travel from out of the city because of limited screen counts.

Looking at the grosses for Terminator 2, I wouldn't exactly say it's anything to get excited about. $552k in 371 market where ticket prices are higher than average is going to translate to about 100 people per theatre for the 3 day weekend. If you figure 4 shows a day, that's an average of about 8 people per showing. And that's in major markets.

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Geoff Jones
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 523
From: Broomfield, CO, USA
Registered: Feb 2006

 - posted 08-31-2017 08:43 PM      Profile for Geoff Jones   Author's Homepage   Email Geoff Jones   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Buck Wilson on 8/28 in another thread:

We only sold 9 tickets total to four of our ten movies for the late show.
If Terminator 2 sold 8 tickets per showing, it beat those numbers. And I guarantee you T2 would have sold more tickets if there were 2d showings.

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Daniel Schulz
Master Film Handler

Posts: 362
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2003

 - posted 08-31-2017 08:55 PM      Profile for Daniel Schulz   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am perpetually surprised that Hollywood has not leveraged the digital cinema revolution to facilitate monetization of the catalogue. Once a film has been mastered for D-Cinema, the marginal cost of additional DCPs is close to zero. There should be a *thriving* business of sub-run, classics, midnite movies and re-releases thematically tied to new releases.

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Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3661
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 08-31-2017 09:11 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Daniel Schulz
I am perpetually surprised that Hollywood has not leveraged the digital cinema revolution to facilitate monetization of the catalogue.
Warner Brothers has. And they want 75% of your box office for the pleasure. And it won't necessarily be a DCP.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2112
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 08-31-2017 09:23 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm sure some of these older movies could do well, especially as one off specials. Unfortunately the studios want so much for these titles it makes it difficult to justify the expense for a movie people probably have sitting on their shelf at home, or which is available on a streaming platform.

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David Kornfeld
Film Handler

Posts: 14
From: Cambridge, MA/USA, USA
Registered: Apr 2017

 - posted 08-31-2017 09:43 PM      Profile for David Kornfeld   Email David Kornfeld   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm sorry, but Ive run a number of film-to-DCP conversions of classic titles, & they look nothing like their analogue counterparts. Everything is wrong: the colour is always off, and, if it happens to be a former IB Technicolor release, well, you can forget about that ever looking the way it's supposed to. B&W movies fare especially badly: digital is not kind to that format.

Frankly, all the ones Ive seen look hideous, & I'm embarrassed for the sake of the audience.

I'm sure there are people who will show up to see them, but we'll continue to run prints for as long as we can.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012

 - posted 09-01-2017 03:52 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In this summer of bummer, a local art-house made a killing by rerunning popular classics. It seems that people still want to go out to the movies, only they don't want the movies Hollywood is feeding them.

I agree with Justin. The studios often want far too much for those classic movies. Also, studios like Disney with their ever growing reach into the global content market, will usually don't even allow you to book one of their classic titles. Then there is the problem of sourcing a good copy, because like David already mentioned, many of those DCPs out there (if you can even get one), look like crap.

Actually, I'm betting on the 4K Blu-Ray releases for a more reliable source for good looking presentations. Unfortunately, 4K Blu-Rays cannot be ripped and there is still no reliable way to get it from a BluRay player into your projector in 4K and preferably even Rec. 2020 instead of the rather dull looking Rec. 709.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2353
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-01-2017 07:57 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Fathom in conjunction with TCM does about one classic movie a month. At least here, most of them do not gross very much at AMC - where they charge $12.50 a ticket compared to their regular $5.99.

We do a couple of classics a month, sometimes they click, sometimes they don't, just like everything else in show business.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 09-01-2017 11:21 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As others have pointed out, the digital remastering of older movies is happening. In fact, it's growing into a significant industry sector, with a subset of post houses and the higher end non-profit archives ramping up activity in this area. For my first year after moving to the US I worked for a small company that imported and sold archival film scanners. During the short time I was there (2013-14), that entire market probably doubled in size, as the cost of this technology and the expertise needed to operate it decreased (e.g. automated dustbusting got better, continuous motion scanners that require less repair to a film element before a scanning pass, that sort of thing).

During the three years I worked for a nonprofit that operated two theaters showing about 90% archival, arthouse and re-release titles, I noticed that the DCPs which were the end result of full scale restorations went from being just the best known classics (for which, if you invest $2m in a painstaking, frame-by-frame hand restoration, you know that you're going to make that money back), to obscure, little-known movies as well. I still do DCP making for a couple of smaller archives as a side operation, and I'm seeing stuff coming through that could never have been properly restored (because of the money barrier), even five years ago.

So I don't think the reason we aren't seeing more classics and archival titles in the mainstream 'plexes has anything to do with the technology. Decent DCPs of the best known ones are already there on the shelf, just waiting to be booked, and they're increasingly being joined by the B-movies, little known Noirs, you name it. Hell, if you wanted to play a French feminist six-hour subtitled 1.66 melodrama from the 1970s in which two depressed women drink and smoke talk about the meaning of life for 11 reels (or 300 gigabytes!), I'm sure that an indie distributor somewhere has it for you!

The reason this isn't happening more is marketing and risk-taking. You have to sell a movie with actors that most of your potential customers won't have heard of, the existing marketing materials will look and sound old (so as a distributor, you'll need to make new posters, trailers, and so on), the story and setting will be unfamiliar (for example, if you don't know anything about prohibition and the Great Depression, the Jimmy Cagney gangster pics won't make much sense to you), and there are other obstacles like that. 99.99% of movies are not "timeless": they are very much of their time, which will give you a problem trying to sell them again, generations later, to customers who weren't around when they were first made and shown.

Without wanting to stray too much into politics, the theater in Memphis that has just canceled plans to play Gone With the Wind has just found that out. The people who complained that it's a work of racist propaganda might not have done if had any serious knowledge both of the film's production and original release, and of the historical events it deals with. But they didn't, and on a less contentious level, it's very difficult to persuade most people to pay to see something that they're completely and utterly unfamiliar with. There'll always be a smaller market for classics, hopefully, and the good news is that the decreasing cost of remastering is enabling that smaller market to bring a wider range of archival titles into circulation again.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12446
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-01-2017 12:49 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In conjunction with a big event in town (the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match), we played the 45-year-old title "The Cowboys" as a one-night show last summer. I had to provide my own Blu-Ray for it, which I converted to DCP. It cost us $250, plus the cost of the Blu-Ray. In order to insure a good crowd, we made it free admission with the hope we'd pay for the movie with concession sales.

We had about 120 people at the show. So it was successful, but not so much that I'd want to do it all the time. We'll probably do something similar next year when the same event happens again.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 09-01-2017 01:15 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to do a free show around the first weekend of December for Santa Claus Day. I played some kids movie on Saturday and Santa came in at the end of every show to see the kids, hand out candy canes and the parents could take pictures with Santa if they wanted to. Sometimes other odds and ends. Some years I had free colouring books to hand out, special forms to write your letter to Santa Claus on, and other little doodads too.

I started this the very first year I opened my theatre and then I did two of the free shows (1pm and 3pm). The event kept getting bigger and a year or two later I had to have three shows (11am, 1pm and 3pm) so all of the kids could get in. Then about five or six years ago the whole thing slowly died off. First I went back to two shows and then I quit completely a couple of years ago. To my surprise, since I stopped doing the Santa Claus show I've had a grand total of exactly zero people ask about it so I guess nobody notices or misses it.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12446
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-01-2017 03:07 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We have always done two or three kids matinees around the holidays. If we're playing a new movie that's kid-oriented, I'll try to find some local entity to sponsor it. Sometimes they'll pony up to the point we can make it a free show, other times we have to charge a dollar or two per ticket.

If we're playing an adult movie, we'll bring in a kid-friendly title that we missed earlier in the year, or maybe something really popular -- depends on the cost. Those, we usually just make free, since they're just out on video and (like with the Cowboys show) we make up the cost on concessions.

In years past, those matinees used to get people lining up four hours early, and some would be severely pissed if their kids didn't get into the show. Nowadays we never have to turn anybody away even if it's free. Part of it is just the massive amounts of other entertainment kids have to pick from, and the other thing is that today's kids are so busy and scheduled and regimented that half of them probably don't even know about the matinees because they have too much else going on.

I feel bad for the kids, being "trained" that watching a movie on a phone is better than actually being with people to see it.

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 753
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 09-01-2017 09:06 PM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We've played either a full or partial "retro" double-feature the past two Septembers and WELL outdrawn the previous years when little to nothing gets released, for whatever that's worth (Back To The Future/Ghostbusters, Ferris Bueller/Top Gun, that sort of thing).

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1378
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004

 - posted 09-07-2017 12:42 PM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
With the abysmal choices for first-run movies right now (though I tried to sell him on Wind River), Brian ended up moving BACK TO THE FUTURE from the drive-in retro series to the Cameo this week.

The drive-in is breaking IT, but as the second feature behind Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

(IT isn't an option for the Cameo as horror always performs poorly there.)

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