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TOPIC: Re-Opening Old Theatre

Re-Opening Old Theatre 03 Feb 2009 08:40 #30823

  • Dannykay
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Hi Everybody,

I am based in Ireland and I am contemplating going into the theatre business. Our town 20,000 people, has no cinema as it was closed about 2 years ago.
It was run as a hobby, more than a business and the owner closed it down and tried to sell it for development. Due to the economic recession here and with falls in prices of property, the cinema is sadly still closed and idle. Its a medium size with 3 screens. The nearest cinema complex is ten miles away, but is one of those new purpose built cinemas with no character and very sterile.
I would hope that I could re-open my own towns cinema, and bring back the nostalgia of going to the movies as a night out or family entertainment. I hope to offer my customer a friendly and personal service and bring back the magic of going to the movies.
Attention to detail and small touches is where I hope my service will be better than my competitor in his soulless cinema elsewhere. I also feel that during a recession people will try to get better value for their money and return to old tried and tested traditional forms of entertainment. The magic of the cinema, especially for kids and nostalgia for the adults along with double seats for the romantic are what I feel are my main selling points.
I would like to re-introduce to my generation (39), classic movies that they saw as kids and now want to show them to their children. Classics like Snow White, Willy Wonka, Chitty Chitty, ET, Blues Brothers, Laurance Of Arabia etc along with Westerns John Wayne etc. Cinema Paradiso is in the back of my mind. The latest blockbusters are important also. How much will these cost to show and what type of system would be best. I do not have a huge amount of money to invest.
I know its all up in the air and fanciful at present but should I follow my idea? Of course I will have to make it profitable to survive so is it worth a risk?
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Re:Re-Opening Old Theatre 07 Feb 2009 21:01 #30846

  • dnedrow
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You'll need to contact a booking agent -- or deal with the studios yourself -- to get information on costs for the actual films. I would recommend searching via your favorite engine for "ireland film booking", etc. Using an established booker is the best way to go.

You're right about recessions and movies, even in the age of DVDs. Movies are about the cheapest out-of-home entertainment, and there's only so long a family can stay at home. Interestingly enough, measured in real dollars it is slightly cheaper to buy a movie ticket in the US now than it was during the Depression of the thirties.

If you really want to show classics, you'll need a two projector setup. Most studios require this to run archived prints. A rebuilt system with DTS and DD capability (not really required, particularly for classics) would probably come in between $75-100k in the US.

As for whether it's worth it, that's what a business plan is for. ;)

-David
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Re:Re-Opening Old Theatre 08 Feb 2009 06:42 #30849

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Hi David,

Thanks for getting back to me, and for your advise, much appreciated. I am in the process of putting a business plan together, but my negotiations with owner on price and lease value are stalled. Until I can get a commitment from him on a fixed term with regard to lease and rent my plan is stuck! As he is not earning any income from his abandoned premises at present I am in the stronger position. Its key to the success of my plan that I negotiate a good low cost deal.
I'm new to the business and have little experience in running a Theater. I have successfully developed other businesses so I have the fundamentals in place, I just need to apply them differently.
I know it wont be from lack of hard work and commitment that my theatre venture will fail, but I suppose my real question to the professionals on this site is can the process be rewarding and profitable at the same time and is there a gap in the market at present. Or is it the wrong time to be investing?
Is there a percentage of customer base that will chose a traditional old style movie theatre over a modern facility or does everybody flock to the brand new Starbucks style establishment these days?
While my town has a population of 20,000 I do have a hinterland population of another 80,000 within a ten mile radius.
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Re:Re-Opening Old Theatre 08 Feb 2009 09:02 #30850

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I am currently re-opening a vintage theatre (1926) in Columbus, OH, USA, so I'm one of the people who thinks it can be done, even in light of the global collapse caused by thirty years of conservative (you would call it neo-liberal) economic policy in the US.

Historically in the US, low-end consumer oriented businesses started during recessions often do well and end up with better long term prospects, as you've gotten started with low loan rates, have more bargaining power with vendors and property owners, etc. I would imagine the same dynamic applies globally.

Once you've calculated your minimum average tickets required, do you believe that you can get that number of people in the doors? That's the big question.

One possible way to handle it is by using one of the screens to show foreign (Hollywood doesn't count) and independent films if there's a local interest.

We're lucky in my area that there is only one other theatre that shows these, and they concentrate on the top one or two. We are targeting the f/i films that might only show in Atlanta, GA, or Chicago, IL (after NY and LA runs) but would not normally come to Columbus, OH.

As for whether people will choose a "traditional" theatre over a gigaplex, it's all about the presentation. People will initially consider the nearest facility, over amenities like massages or coffee bars. Try to think of the things that the customer may say "but" about. Eg,. "I'd like to go here, but the WC is always dirty." Eliminate those "buts" and that will go a long way toward getting people to the auditorium.

David
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Re:Re-Opening Old Theatre 08 Feb 2009 09:33 #30851

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Hi David,

Thanks for that very useful information. It all helps. There is a saying this side of the Atlantic, that when America sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold. Economically, everybody is watching what is happening in the US as the sub prime toxic debt issue is managed.

Its people like yourself and other entrepreneurs that will kick start the economy once again, in fine pioneering American tradition. I hope your new administration in Government will support small businesses and entrepreneurial spirit. Our government provides a grant of up to 80% to install digital projector systems into "fringe" cinemas that show independent or local home made pictures.

Thanks again for all your help and best of look with the vintage theatre venture.
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