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TOPIC: is anybody out there?

is anybody out there? 16 Oct 2004 16:03 #13509

  • leeler
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Jeez, my numbers have been just awful ever since Labor Day. Is this normal? Any ideas on how to get 'em in ?
"What a crazy business"
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Re: is anybody out there? 16 Oct 2004 17:40 #13510

  • Larry Thomas
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Welcome to fall, Leeler. Ever since I can remember (and that's a pretty darn long time ago), fall has been one of the lousy time for flicks. Back to school, Friday night football, new TV programs, etc., etc., etc. (to quote Yul Brynner).

The only thing I've found to combat the autumnal doldrums is a really hot picture, such as this years' SHARK TALE. This seems to disprove the theory that doing biz in fall is impossible. There have been other examples over the past decades, but those brain cells have vanished.

Bottom line...if the filmcos release crap movies, you will do crap biz. And they seem to avoid the down times as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Re: is anybody out there? 16 Oct 2004 20:41 #13511

  • leeler
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Bummer, and I'm not showing Shark Tale 'til Thanksgiving. At least I know what I'll be thankful for.....winter
"What a crazy business"
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Re: is anybody out there? 16 Oct 2004 23:29 #13512

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Yes, fall is usually the slowest season, and this year is double whammy year, meaning it's also a presidential election year. It has been my experience over the past almost 40 years that preidential election years are always soft, and this year has been slower then last. The fall during presidential election year is really the pits, and this year is no different.

I look for the extra income items to help me get through this period... birthday parties, scout programs, special school showings, rentals for live stage shows etc.

Unless the studios make a major change in how they release product, I doubt that we will see any noticeable change anytime soon in our autumn business, especially in Sept. & Oct if you're first run, and Sept. through Christmas if you're subrun.

In the future you have to think of yourself as if you're a squirrel... you have to collect your nuts and store them for the winter. I always budget a certain amount of money that I put away for the fall season. On Sept. 1st I always have a certain amount in my checkbook to see me through that period. I actually don't expect do show any profit after Sept. 10th up until Dec. 25th each year. That's a period of 15 weeks. During that period, I might have 1 or 2 weeks that actually show a profit, 4 or 5 weeks that break even, and the rest will lose money. It's just the way the business is. I still show a nice profit for the entire year, but none of it comes during that final third of the year, except for Christmas week. You have to plan for it.

Wait until you see the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you think it's slow now... you haven't seen anything yet. I go to weekends only during that time, and I know many exhibitors in small towns that close between those holidays, and then reopen either on or the day after Christmas.
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Re: is anybody out there? 16 Oct 2004 23:55 #13513

  • muviebuf
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It seems to me that this rollercoaster of a business has become a lot more so over the past few years. The highs are higher but then the lows are lower.

It also seems to me there tends to be almost a national pattern.... some weekends you can do business with almost any picture .... and yet other weekends you can't get people in the door no matter if you gave the tickets away. Everyone does business or everyone sucks wind. Doesn't seem logical that it should be that widespread but it sure seems to the pattern. More of the all or nothing at all syndrome.

This year it seems there have been a lot more off weeks than on weeks. I know that I can't give tickets away this weekend and everyone I talk to basically says the same thing (Shark Tale and Team America excepted)

To paraphase a famous movie quote: "Fasten your seatbelts its going to be a bumpy ride"



[This message has been edited by muviebuf (edited October 17, 2004).]
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Re: is anybody out there? 17 Oct 2004 13:23 #13514

  • BECKWITH1
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Yup! I gripe about this every year. It started in early this year in August for us but also ended early for us with Shark Tale.
Just when you are firmly convinced that you are doing something wrong and driving all your customers away, the page turns, you get a movie that they want to see and the crowds return. It is really an amazing phenomenon to observe although there is a lot of pain on the front side.

We've now had 3 great weekends since Shark Tale came out for which I am extremely grateful. Since we didn't open anything new this week, I was expecting about a 50% drop in receipts over last weekend which included a big school holiday. Fortunately, the weather turned cold, windy and generally nasty with a little rain thrown in. That is a recipe to make any theater owner happy.

Roxy is so right about squirreling away money each year to cover this depressing period. Our financial situation improves yearly but it is still a period in which we borrow money to pay bills. So even though it is mega difficult to stay positive, focus on the fact that the crowds will eventually return when you get something they want to see.
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Re: is anybody out there? 17 Oct 2004 16:11 #13515

  • outaframe
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Yes, LEE, the folks are telling you like it really is: Feast or Famine, and the dry spells can last quite a while, at times... Business will slowly build starting in November, then peak for Thanksgiving... But that period between Thanksgiving and Christmas REALLY SUCKS!... You'd better have some $ stuck in yer sock, 'cause for those 2-3 weeks, it's STARVATION...
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Re: is anybody out there? 18 Oct 2004 11:24 #13516

  • Mike
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That's one reason why we started the "Blocbuster relief Film Series" which starts Labor day and runs for 8-11 weeks playing catch up for best art and lesser known films and it really helps us in tik sales but also serving customers who get lost in the big film bookings we have to do.

Thank God you could see Shark Tale coming. I recall the season that featured Sixth Sense Meet, The Parents, and Something About Mary..all of which were limited release and did the only business and you could not get a print under any circumstances unless you'd opened them.



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Re: is anybody out there? 31 Oct 2004 22:13 #13517

  • muviebuf
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Just finished doing my numbers for the month of October. It was the worst October in the 18 years that I been in business at my current theatre. As a second run my offerings even included some pictures which had performed reasonably well in the summer - but were absolutely dead for me.

In my opinion, this accelerating pattern of "All-Or-Nothing-At-All" threatens the long term viability of the entire exhibition industry.
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Re: is anybody out there? 01 Nov 2004 10:25 #13518

  • leeler
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Amen, brother.

I'd like to be proactive and do some things to get them in, though. I was wondering if anyone has some ideas that might work. We've thought of maybe a "frequent movie" card" or some sort of promotion. How about a discount on concessions in the fall. Anything would be better than this. Other than Princess Diaries 2 last week I've been scraping the bottom (at least I hope it's the bottom).
"What a crazy business"
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Re: is anybody out there? 01 Nov 2004 21:15 #13519

  • wimovieman
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Over the years I have tried different things to try and perk up business during these "slow" times. Most discounts, vending give aways, ect. still did not compete against all the school activities in October in my small areas. The school systems I am in keep dropping in students, but keep adding more extra curricular activities--it uses everyones time up. It not only takes away the participants, but the parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts & uncles, ect, ect.

What has worked the best is trying to get group showings during the day--schools, pre-schools, scouting program, any group that has more than a handfull. I usually give a "group rate" (but report full admission to the studios) and do great on vending (case in point--had the Catholic school for their annual All Saints Day movie today in one of the theatres--did $4.64 vending average! (normally around $3.00 for me).

Any other type promotion this time of year just does not have any effect on the majority of movie goers--actually the ones that took advantage in the past were planning on coming anyway.

Thank goodness Thanksgiving is around the corner!

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Re: is anybody out there? 21 Nov 2004 16:03 #13520

  • leeler
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wahooooo!

We just killed this weekend with Ladder 49. I thought it would do OK, but wow! At least twice the normal business. sell outs Friday and Saturday. What a crazy business. Feast or famine....

I saw lots of firemen jackets this weekend and lots of new customers. Maybe the fall doldrums are finally going away.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: is anybody out there? 21 Nov 2004 16:20 #13521

  • outaframe
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Glad to hear the famine has ended, but much as I hate to rain on your parade, you're still looking at those 2-3 weeks before Christmas!... If it holds up then, you'll be pulling a camel through the eye of the needle...
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Re: is anybody out there? 21 Nov 2004 18:16 #13522

  • leeler
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well, I can finally look at what happened last year although it was when I was first opening so I'm sure that skews the results. I had a really strong Thanksgiving last year followed by two slow weeks and then the week before Christmas I did really strong again.

Here is my schedule:

Next Week is Shark Tale
First week of December is Friday Night Lights (good buzz)
Second week of December is Raise Your Voice (some buzz, but not lots)
Week before Christmas is Shall We Dance (good buzz)

The proof is in the pudding but I'm thinking that I'll be OK for two of those three weeks anyway. Here's hoping.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: is anybody out there? 21 Nov 2004 20:00 #13523

  • Mike
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see our free Christmas holiday matineee film series posts for a kick butt Thanks to Xmas season: we sell out one screen for 4 schows every sat and sunday: 3200 seats filled like glue and every one of them with popcorn and soda and candy. Plus they see all the trailers!

Michael Hurley
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