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TOPIC: Warehouse conversion to Theater

Warehouse conversion to Theater 21 Jan 2009 15:19 #30745

  • Davee
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I own two new warehouses that are side by side 150 wide 80 deep each of them. Easy conversion to connect the two. Ceiling heights are 20 at front and 16 at back inside clear height. Have always wanted to own a movie theater and find myself with more questions than answers. Feel that I am in an advantageous area placement wise and have a 25 mile radius population of 500,000 plus with 51 screens active in that area. A number of the screens are flat floor stagger seat set ups no updates in many years. 31 are newer theaters in megaplex setups. 1 is an IMAX and 6 are second run. My plan would be 4 small to mid size screens (75-100 seats) 1 large screen (165-200) with a majority in stadium seating. Thinking first run would be the way to go but have recently considered some first run some second. Would love any and all input about pop. density, seating, theater sizing, projector type (looking at SXRD digital), concessions, or any other thoughts that you may have. Also curious as to the numbers of parking spots required for an undertaking like this. Please help. I look forward to any information you might be able to share. Will post more questions soon. Thanks.
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Re:Warehouse conversion to Theater 21 Jan 2009 18:34 #30747

  • revrobor
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Hello Davee:

With that many screens in the area many are probably owned by the corporate big boys. Therefore it's unlikely you'd get any first run product as they have the market tied up. That is unless you consider alternative product such as foreign or independent and possibly classic films. To compete you'll need to offer the public something the other theatres are not offering and at lower ticket and concession prices. If your finances are limited I would suggest you consider used/reconditioned 35mm projection and sound equipment. Most such equipment made during the last 50 years is very rugged and if well maintained will outlive us all. In programming try to serve the demographics the others are not serving. Most corporate owned multiplexes serve the 14-34 year old action fan. As far as stadium seating is concerned try to leave some seats that are not stadium for those who find it difficult to climb up to those seats.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re:Warehouse conversion to Theater 21 Jan 2009 19:11 #30748

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Thanks for the feedback. Was concerned about the 'BIG BOYS' making it difficult to get first run stuff but am still hoping that we would have an opportunity if we used digital as the local megaplex is all 35 mm. Have the potential to buy and relocate one of the struggling 8 plexes that offers first run as it is a mom and pop in a leased building with a renewal in the works. Of the theaters in our area Wehrenberg owns one and the rest are all independent so the trend may lead to a first run format. Intend to be very competitive with rates and concessions and are in an area that is much easier to get in and out of and is 10-12 miles closer to approx. 45% of the population. Does this seem like it might open some doors? Not opposed to second run and indy films but would like to proceed with the hopes of first run. Larger screen could be full service with drinks and a limited menu or possibly over 21. Thoughts?
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Re:Warehouse conversion to Theater 21 Jan 2009 22:34 #30750

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Don't limit yourself to digital only as not all films are available in digital. If you can afford the equipment by all means get it and promote it heavily. But be sure to also have 35mm in the booths. You will find that many movie-goers (except those I mentioned above) prefer a good story over the method of delivery. You may have a problem with serving alcohol in one auditorium if your state does not allow anyone under 21 where booze is served. Since you're new to the business I would encourage you to hire a booker. A good booker will work with you in getting what you want and can take quite a load off your back. I would recommend Frank Rash. He's in Nebraska but will book anywhere. You might also want to include some organic and "health" foods at your snack bar.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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