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TOPIC: Free first run movies in North Carolina?

Free first run movies in North Carolina? 20 Mar 2009 09:17 #31237

  • Mike
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How does this work? I've been beat up by distribs for "bargain night" and once we did a "2 for 1" coupon and were called up by Sony and Fox very carefully explaing their per ticket minimum. Is this legit?


Gem Theatre on NBC Nightly News tonight
By Ben McNeely | Independent Tribune

Kannapolis is in the national spotlight.

For the second time this week, the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis will be featured on the NBC Nightly News tonight.

A production crew from NBC in Atlanta came to Kannapolis Wednesday to film for the segment which is slated to air tonight, said General Manager Steve Morris.

"They were here from about 10:30 in the morning until about 10 last night," Morris said. "They interviewed customers and business owners around here."

Earlier in the week, a viewer sent in an e-mail, boasting about the Gem's "Recession Buster Wednesdays" special -- where Morris was offering free admission and low concession prices to anyone on Wednesday nights.

"Typically, the movie business is considered an escapism type of business," he said, "where people get away and relax and watch a show."

He said on Tuesday the Gem extend the promotion through April 8.

Last night's opening showing of "Race to Witch Mountain" filled the 900-seat theater, Morris said.

"We had to turn people away, unfortunately," he said.

Next week, Kannapolis and the North Carolina Research Campus will be featured on the The Oprah Winfrey Show. A crew came March 1 to interview scientists at the campus for an episode based around longevity and healthy living.

The Oprah episode will air Tuesday at 4 p.m. on WSOC.
Michael Hurley
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 20 Mar 2009 10:54 #31239

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My guess is that one of two things would happen, assuming everything is above board:

The theatre owner would have to count the number of people he lets in on Wednesday, possibly even handing out serialized tickets with "$0" as the price.

After that, he'd pay the studio the normal percentage of his established normal ticket price for each class of ticket (child, adult, senior, etc).

Or,

He might get away with paying the studios' "per capita minimum" per patron. I'd guess he'd have to have their ok for that.

Based on how weekday business seems to go for indoor operations these days, the studios might actually OK something like this. At 60%, a $7 ticket would cost the owner $4.20. He'd have to average around $6 or so for concessions to break even (before all house expenses), but the PR value is probably high.
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 20 Mar 2009 15:05 #31243

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Well, it's pretty simple. We are issuing a ticket to every customer that walks in the door based on the normal classifications, Adult/Child/Senior, and we are paying film rental based on our regular admission prices. It costs us some money, but the distributors should be VERY happy in that our gross is astronomically higher than it normally would be on a winter weekday. I will include some links to some publicity we have received, hope they work from here.

gem-theatre.com/gem_news.php

Free movies help keep big picture in focus
March 19: In a town known throughout the auto racing world as home to the late legend Dale Earnhardt, good times are starting to roll again thanks to free movie nights at the local movie theatre. NBC's Ron Mott reports.
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/vp/29782123#29782123
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 20 Mar 2009 18:36 #31245

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That is what I was told by both the distribs. But Disney has repeatedly not allowed us to book films for "free" showings under any circumstances even when we offered the per cap. I think it's a great idea and if you are filling a 900 seat theatre it speaks for itself. I can see using that as the hook and working to turn the hundreds of freebies into regualr paying customers. Great press !!!
Michael Hurley
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 22 Mar 2009 01:13 #31246

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...But Disney has repeatedly not allowed us to book films for "free" showings under any circumstances even when we offered the per cap.

That's interesting, considering master contracts specifically allow you to set your own price. The studios can't mess with your right to do that under antitrust laws.

They did get around part of that by putting per-cap rules in place, but they can not dictate what you charge, so long as it's normal and traditional. That probably doesn't apply in "onesie-twosie" type promotions, though.

Considering Disney won't allow "freebies", did anyone ask them to verbalize (or put in writing) some minimum allowable admission price? I'd be very surprised if they would do that.
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 22 Mar 2009 13:18 #31247

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You're right Jack. The house I managed in Iowa in '06 had an all seats admission of .99 cents.
Bob Allen
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 26 Mar 2009 10:54 #31264

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and at the .99 did you tyen pay a minimum per seat to films cos or did you pay the % of the .99?
Michael Hurley
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 26 Mar 2009 15:25 #31265

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It was a percentage of the total .99 cent ticket sales. I made most of my money at the concession stand. For example: if I made $400 at the box on a Saturday I'd take in $1200 at concessions.
Bob Allen
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Re:Free first run movies in North Carolina? 06 Apr 2009 11:55 #31333

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Just a quick update on our "Recession Buster Wednesdays". We have gotten a lot of kind emails and letters from across the US & Canada as a result of the segment on NBC nightly news. One of the best came from a gentleman in California who sent a check for $1000 to provide concessions to folks attending our final free movie on April 8. He said "I have been very lucky all my life and now retired from business. My dad and I were helped along the way by many people, including perfect strangers. I'm simply passing it along, and I hope that your young patrons will remember my little gesture when they are my age." The first 400 people through the door this Wednesday will recieve concession vouchers due to his generosity. There are a lot of caring people in this world. I just wanted to let you know about this one.
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