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More Questions about Second.... 08 Jan 2001 15:12 #1124

  • Bird
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Here are some questions I couldn't find the answers to when reading ALL the previos posts.

1. Just what is the EXACT differance between Subrun, discount run, and Second Run? Is it just price and when you get the movies?

2. Do all theatres open second run movies at the same time in all districts? Basically say a huge 20 plex can keep a movie like Rugrats in Paris for a long time - would a second run theatre have any chance of getting that movie at the same time if they are say only 25 minutes away but in different districts? Or would that large 20 plex have a huge effect on booking that small seecond run theatre?

3. What publications would you look at to find out what dates a movie will go second run. Will a theatre in some small town in Idaho get a second run movie quicker that a second run theatre in a good size CA town?

Thanks for the input.
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Re: More Questions about Second.... 09 Jan 2001 00:20 #1125

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Bird and others:

I shall try to answer your questions as well as those from the other post about what is considered subrun.

1. Just what is the EXACT differance between Subrun, discount run, and Second Run? Is it just price and when you get the movies?

ANSWER: To answer this one must become familiar with how we got to where we are today. In the early days of our industry there were many runs...sometimes as many as five or six in large markets. Not wanting to go into too much boring detail as to how or why the various runs came about, let me just explain how they worked.

The first run was the national release that played the major downtown theatres (movie palaces)in the cities and larger towns across America. As difficult as it is to believe now, the first run release usually was for only one week, and had a clearance of 28 days after the closing date before it could open in the 2nd run houses. The 2nd runs were the key neighborhood theatres in the cities as well as the houses in the larger surrounding towns. They opened the picture, as I mentioned 28 days after the first runs closed, which would be 35 days after national release. Almost all 2nd run houses changed pictures three times a week. After they finished a given film, there was a fourteen day clearance before the 3rd run houses could open it (the smaller neighborhood houses and more rural communities)...then after them, a seven day clearance before the 4th run.

When TV came about (1950s) and forced most of those theatres to close, many of the runs disappeared, and for many years we were left with only 1st and 2nd run. TV actually started in 1945, but took about ten years to really destroy the theatre industry as it had been before.

Then in the early 1970s a new phenomena came about...Discount Theatres. They weren't actually started as discounts, but were just 2nd runs that didn't increase their prices as the price of tickets continued to increase at the first runs. Also during this time, with the disappearence of most of the subrun theatres the practice of set clearances vanished and it became policy to open subrun films the very next day after the first run ceased. Throughout the seventies and eighties these relatively few low price theatres became very popular as the nation experienced several recessions, and double digit inflation (during the 70s) pushing first run prices higher and higher.
The disparagy between the prices of first runs and subruns became so great, and the businees so good that it began to raise the eyebrows of others. By 1990, both independents and chains alike were either converting their older houses to discounts or building brand new plexes as discounts as well. This upset the film cart! Now with hundreds of screens nationwide the discounts were causing a threat to the studios and were percieved as stealing too much film rental from that which would have been garnered had those people attended high price first run theatres. The studios retaliated by creating a separate run for discount theatres through per capita film rentals and/or later release dates based upon the price of tickets, hoping that the late run would discourage people from waiting. It worked! It is the reason that most discounts have vanished from the American scene. But not the only reason...the economy of the 90s put more money in most peoples pockets, and people were now more willing to pay the higher prices rather then wait the longer periods that were required if one wanted to get the discount price.

So...the bottom line is this: there is presently three runs. 1st run, 2nd run, and discount run, and yes they are based upon ticket price and the release availability of the films. Subrun which is short for subsequent run means any run after first run, or for that matter...any run that follows another run.

2. Do all theatres open second run movies at the same time in all districts? Basically say a huge 20 plex can keep a movie like Rugrats in Paris for a long time - would a second run theatre have any chance of getting that movie at the same time if they are say only 25 minutes away but in different districts? Or would that large 20 plex have a huge effect on booking that small seecond run theatre?

ANSWER: Yes and no...2nd run varies depending upon the distance from the nearest competitor, and the price that the 2nd run charges. Some distributors will allow a 2nd run that charges...lets say...$2.50 or $3.00 to come in after four to six weeks after national release, but hold the discounts until all first runs in that area have finished with the film.

Others like Warners and Disney have a national subrun availability date when all subruns regardless of price can play the picture (about two weeks before video). This seems to change though from market to market, as some areas have a intermediate run as well. (They often classify those theatres as delayed or 2nd wave first runs). Whether a 25 minute travel time would effect availability will vary by market.

3. What publications would you look at to find out what dates a movie will go second run. Will a theatre in some small town in Idaho get a second run movie quicker that a second run theatre in a good size CA town?

ANSWER: Some of the industry newsletters do post the subrun availities, but I seldom see them in the trade magazines. Most distributors send out release letters to bookers notifying them when a picture will be available subrun along with the terms. Yes a small town theatre far removed from a major market will be in a better situation to get a print sooner then a town close to/or in a large metropolitan area.


Remember that nothing is carved in stone in this industry. I have see so many changes during my many years in it, and expect to see many more. And what changes in one area does not mean it will change in another area.

Any other questions? Is anyone still awake?
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Re: More Questions about Second.... 09 Jan 2001 03:37 #1126

  • Bird
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Wow, Roxy thank you greatly for that information, and for the history lesson. Your post is exactly why this site is awesome!

One more question: have you ever seen the same movie title be at a first run theatre and a discount/second run theatre at the same time - under any circumstance?
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Re: More Questions about Second.... 09 Jan 2001 11:10 #1127

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Hello Bird.

Yes, it is not that uncommon for a 2nd run theatre to run day and date with a first run during the later weeks of the first runs engagement. Possibly during the 4th thru 5th (or later)weeks of the run. It will depend on the feature. The more popular films will be given a longer clearance, the bombs much less. I've seen many flops come to 2nd run by the third week out. Discount is another story. It is seldom that you will see discount playing with a first run, BUT it does happen. Sometimes a distributor will set a discount break, but a first run needs something to fill a screen and holds the picture past the discount break date, and therefore ends up playing day and date with them.
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Re: More Questions about Second.... 17 Jan 2001 14:38 #1128

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So, in this instance from the post above, the differance between discount and second run would be:
1. how quickly you get the movie
2. how much you charge?

Can I assume that discount is usually 1.00 to 1.50, and second run is usually 2.50 to 3.00?
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Re: More Questions about Second.... 17 Jan 2001 17:30 #1129

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Discount is usually $2.00 or under, and 2nd run $2.25 and up. However that varies from studio to studio. Some require a minimun of $2.50. Disney seems to vary from market to market,usually looking for about half the first run price for 2nd run. Some areas they seem to not have an intermediate run, only a so called subrun which is basically on par with discount run.

What you said is for the most part correct, but 2nd run can go as high as you want, $3.00, $4.00 or more. In most areas it is safe to charge only $2.50 and be 2nd run.
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