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TOPIC: Gross out weekend wars

Gross out weekend wars 16 Aug 2001 11:58 #1920

  • Mike
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The NY Times had a long article on the films that are now routinely dropping 50-60% after the first weekend and how more than ever the studios are planning it this way. To them the 2nd and 3rd and fugetaboutit the 4th week is like a jok... the movies go on to gross big in the end... they do make money ...but it really leaves you with a dilema if you only have a few screens. The public too has gotten into the big movie release on the weekend it opens and if they don't see it on that weekend they are likely to skip it and then they go to the NEW big movie that is currently releasing. So smaller theatres not able to open a movie a weekend are losing big shares. And if you are on more than one screen with the same pic then your % is ever higher out of the first week with less repeat biz. Oi! It's a problem. What do you say? How is this effecting you? Does it work the same way on art pictures?

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Re: Gross out weekend wars 16 Aug 2001 16:41 #1921

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Remember the old saying: "What goes around comes around". That seems to happen a lot in this business. How many of you remember how pictures were released before the mid seventies. Most towns and cities, all but the largest, opened first run pictures for a one week run, opening on a Wednesday. If they did well, you would hold over for a 2nd week... and maybe several times a year even hold something over for a 3rd week. The blockbuster of the year might go on to a 4 week run! If the picture opened on Wednesday, and was a dud, you would call the distributor the next morning and yank the film out after Saturday night, and they would give you a replacement "b" picture to fill in for Sunday thru Tuesday. I remember that well as I had sevaral large downtown (1200 to 1800 seaters) first run houses back then. Oh how I loved Wednesday openings... if you recieved a bad print, you could have a new print in before Friday.

Of course, back then there were many runs, 2nd, 3rd and so on depending on the size of your release territory. Twenty eight days after the one week first run engagement, the film moved into the 2nd runs for a two or three day ran as most subruns changed three times a week. Then 14 days later it would move on to the 3rd run, and so on. Now the subruns are all but gone, and in many areas after the first run is done the picture is done. We can thank video, cable and TV for that (and distributors that have whittled down the release window to almost no time at all).

So anyway, we seem to be back to the days of short runs as many pictures are good only for one or two weeks.

The bright side of this might be that the few subruns that remain seem to be getting pictures a little earlier and that might help them (us, as I'm subrun) to hang on. The discounts or what would be todays 3rd runs are now all but dead as they are being held back longer then ever.

It is going to be interesting to see what lies ahead.
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Re: Gross out weekend wars 17 Aug 2001 11:57 #1922

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At our single screener we are definitely seeing this effect. We get movies as they moveover from the local 8 plex. For some time we have been feeling that by the time we get the movie it no longer appeals but have attributed that to the number of screens in our area. We compete with an 8 plex but Regal also opened a 16 plex 7 miles away in late '98. We saw a major change in our business after they opened even though it was gradual and hard to pinpoint exactly.
We have occasionally benefited from Regal decisions and have gotten Galaxy Quest, the Road to El Dorado, Thomas & the Magic Railroad and Rush Hour 2 on release date. The performance of these individual movies tells me that we would be better off picking up movies as they are released rather than living on the crumbs that are left after the 2 Regals have played 4 copies of a film to death before we can get it. We are currently awaiting the resolution of the Regal bankruptcy situation to see how this shakes out for us.
I am not sure that cutting down to 12-18 new releases per year from our current 50 or so used releases is the best idea, but that may be what we will do. I am thinking that living high for 2 weeks and then starving for the last 2 weeks of the contract may be better than our current situation. What do you who have been there think?
Oh yeah, I should mention that we are masters at mixing movies - by the time we get them we are usually permitted to have 3-4 movies running at different times of the day. People get used to it and it allows us to keep people interested in what we do. Obviously we will not be able to do this if we switch to first run release date or even prints available.
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Re: Gross out weekend wars 17 Aug 2001 12:21 #1923

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We were second run when we took over 6 years ago. The owners would not play anything until it hit 35 or 30 % cost to us. We began fairly quickly moving up to first run and with two screens we'd get caught badly at times. Many distribs do allow in non competive areas a 2 week deal and sometimes when they are really working to get prints up they'll do it anyway. Now with 3 screens we carefully try to have at least one new movie every weekend but fail at times and it shows. If we do not have it customers will drive to see it. We'll see as Jurassic 2 opens next Friday. Having enough screens does put you in sync with the public and the distribs both of whom want more on screen faster.

I like Mr. Beckwith's ability to show 3-4 films on a screen. We do this with 2 and rarely 3 prints. What we do often when we are allowed to slpit prints is to do a Fri early and Sat late then alternate each other day etc.
Here come my computer guys! More later/ Best/ Mike

Mike Hurley
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