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TOPIC: It's so easy to run a theatre!

It's so easy to run a theatre! 09 Apr 2000 10:48 #301

  • Mike
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A little over 5 years ago we bought the Colonial. We thought; "What the hell could there be to this business? Make some popcorn, open the doors, sell a few tiks, push the start button, go home." A three screen now keeps about about 15 people working part time and my wife and I full time. Was anyone else surprised by the amount of work?
Michael Hurley
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Re: It's so easy to run a theatre! 09 Apr 2000 17:04 #302

  • Avalon
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About three years ago I took an old junk shop and turned it into a 100 seat art house (Avalon Cinema. Corvallis, OR). Aside from the sheer hell of dealing with local building regs ("Need to move that handrail down 3/4s of an inch, son.") to federal reg's ("ADA won't allow you to have any more of an incline in your auditorium"), there was the general fun of starting a new business. All the locals thought i was building a porno house (There was enough intrest in that idea that when the shut-off notices started showing up on the door . . . .) since that is surely what "Art Cinema" must be the euphorism for. But, after three years, a divorce, using up every personal asset, selling my Harley, and various other personal crisis, it looks like we're going to make it. at this rate, i should be earning $1.50 a day by the end of this millinium. The Visa cards are paid off and the box office reports actually get done within a week after the show finals. I got a good booker, good crew, good friends who all pitch in more than expected. It was the hardest damn thing i ever did. i'll be surprised if the financial payoff would have been the same if i used that expensive education to get a "real job", but i look forward to going to work. if there is a problem, it's MY fault and i can fix it. I even bought my Harley back. Life is good. Paul
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: It's so easy to run a theatre! 09 Apr 2000 23:14 #303

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Well Mike, Paul, Nancy....

I'm glad to see all you "newcomers" doing whatever needs to be done to continue the legecy of the independent exhibitor. I'm proud of you all. There was a time not too long ago when it appeared that we were a dying breed, and that we would become extinct. However, that seems to be changing. I have seen more small town theatres reopen over the last several years then in the past several decades. I'm also seeing new theatres being built in small markets once again...even single screens. I have picked up a number of booking accounts from just such places, as I have a reputation for being interested in those little markets.

I knew when I started in this business that it wouldn't be easy, as I worked in several large downtown movie palaces before going out on my own. I saw the large staffs that were needed, the continuous maintenance, I was shown the enormous utility bills, and so forth. I had only worked in my first theatre for several weeks when I knew that this was for me. I had to become a theatre manager. I never even envisioned becoming an owner at that time. I was 16 and becoming a manager seemed like the pinnacle of the theatre business....that it would take years! I had no idea then that three years later at 19, that I would have my first theatre as owner! I never envisioned it as being easy...on the contrary I thought that it seemed overwhelming, but a great challenge. I've never regreted it for even a moment.

I hope all of you independents out there continue to carry the torch, for you are the hope of our future.

And if there is anything I can ever do to help.....well, you know where to find me.

Keep up the good work, and never give up.
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Re: It's so easy to run a theatre! 10 Apr 2000 10:02 #304

  • Mike
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The Colonial was managed by John Grant for fifty years and he retired in 1995 just as we took it over. John got the job as a young man after WW2 and the manager told him he'd be going in the hospital for a few days and not to tell the owners. The manager came out of the hospital with a tag on his toe and John kept the theatre going but was afraid to tell the owners what had happened. After about a month the owners figured it out and told John that since he was doing the job anyway he was hired. For the next fifty years he was the man. His ghost lives on.
Michael Hurley
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