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TOPIC: I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage

I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 04 Apr 2009 02:53 #31316

  • Dex
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Hello!

This seems to be the most helpful place on the internet.

I want to open a Drive-In Theater on top of a Parking Garage. The city I'm in has loads of bars and the crowd is very young. There is an independent theater down the street that does really good business and there are drive-ins in the state but they are in pretty bad areas of town and this downtown area is very hip and clean with no bad seeds in sight.

Initially, I thought I would be able to run it in an underground sort of way, to avoid licensing fees but the more I think about it, the more that I realize this could be a very big thing and actually a viable business. I don't want to show first-runs, I might be interested in second-runs though depending on the licensing but I'd rather show older, cult classics with a mix of 80's nostalgia and 90's action flicks.

I have some important questions I need answered before I continue further though.

1. If a movie is old and not in theaters anymore, how much is licensing? I've heard $200 but understand it can range depending on the amount of people and size of venue. I don't think more than 100 people would attend though.
2. If I run as a non-profit and only accept "recommended donations" does that place me in the non-commercial field of licensing? Is that more benficial to me for licensing fees?
3. I am looking at Swank, Criterion, and the MPLC for licensing. Do they care if I'm showing movies for profit? If I use those companies, do I still need a booking agent? Does the MPLC only offer licensing to libraries or all non-profits?
4. What if I find a movie not under the umbrella of the aforementioned three. Should I try to contact the distributor directly? What if they are in another country and don't have US distribution?
5. What would happen if I was found to be showing movies without a license? Would they give me a warning first or slap me with a $5000 fine right off the bat?

Some background on me and my setup. I bought an Epson Powerlite 770c with 2200 lumens and have used it at a distance of 40 feet in the dark with no problems. I built a screen using PVC pipes and white bedsheets that is 30x12. I have a Ramsey FM25B as my transmitter. I haven't purchased a generator yet but I have 200 feet of extension cord to make it to any outlet. I've also thought of buying a power inverter for my car but again, I don't really need it now.

Thank you all for any help you can provide!
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 04 Apr 2009 14:17 #31317

  • dnedrow
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I can't quite tell if you're kidding or not. The basic concept might be interesting, but then you throw in a lot of stuff about avoiding paying for the product, projecting onto bedsheets(?), &c. The only thing you seem to be missing is Spanky, Darla, and Petey.

I'm guessing since you would prefer to show these illegally, then you're also not likely to cut the owner of the parking garage in on the action.

Everything but the actual "drive-in in/on a parking garage" sounds like a recipe for federal indictments.

I would say that if you can't come up with a legitimate business model, then you probably shouldn't make your intentions quite so well known.

-David
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 04 Apr 2009 14:38 #31319

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I'm with David. I don't think you'd be able to run any type of theatre with the equipment you mention. And trying to rent films under the radar will just eventually lead to legal problems. There's more to it than just slapping a DVD into a computer and shooting it on a bed sheet. I would suggest you visit theatres in your area and learn more about what it takes to equip and run a theatre.
Bob Allen
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 04 Apr 2009 15:43 #31321

  • BurneyFalls
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I think I would like to be the independent down the street. Once you show your first couple films I turn you in annonymously to the studios, the city, county, state, and feds and even the garage owner. It's all over the headlines, TV, etc., how you were trying to make money illegally and not willing to give the proper cut to every involved, legally entitled, entity. You get slapped with all kinds of lawsuits and fined several thousands of dollars. When it's all said and done, my $7.00 or whatever admission price, with flawless, crystal clear projection, and digital sound looks like a real bargain.
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 06 Apr 2009 10:40 #31331

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Your outline indicates that you think this business is only capable of providing an income, if you screw everyone who provides you the product you'll be selling.

That may be how people feel about downloading music and films that others have spent their time and money to produce, but it is not a reasonable way to conduct a legitimate business.

Is this the kind of place you would want to patronize? Who do you think your customer base will be.

If running movies for money is worth your time, reputation and personal freedom, figure out how to do it right.

Everyone here has built their businesses by dealing honestly with our customers and vendors. Why on Earth do you think anyone here would help with the kind of operation you're talking about building? Do it right, or find something else to do.
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 06 Apr 2009 12:51 #31334

  • Mike
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I like the idea of a deck top drive in. I guarantee you it will cut down on people sneaking in. B) The top deck is often the last place people want to park so even on busier nights I'll bet there is room left. I will also bet that bugs would be pretty light up off the ground level. All the rest smacks of a general ignorance of how the "real" cinema world works. As you can tell: it's a real place. You cannot get far with anything more than showing free movies for fun in an alley somewhere. Film companies are notoriously bad tempered and they defend their art with vigor. Plus: these days all they have to do is run google news searches and you cannot hide. So: straighten up and fly right. If you like this business: do it right. At least you have a good idea. Implementation: As Borat would say.......not so much. :)
Michael Hurley
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 06 Apr 2009 17:23 #31335

  • Ken Layton
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A parking garage is a pretty expensive structure to construct. That's why cities and corporations own them. I don't think they'd take kindly to using their parking garage as a movie theater.
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 17 Apr 2009 09:27 #31385

fyi

not sure about the other companies you mentioned, but criterion does not have distribution rights to any of their films. They only have the rights for dvd.

d
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 17 Apr 2009 11:12 #31386

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Take it town by town. Many parking garages are used primarily during work hours. Otehrs are more in entertainment districts and are used more in the evening. I can think of one garage in a city near me and the top 4 floors are empty at night. Managing a drive in up there would require a cooperative conspiracy with the city gov.
Michael Hurley
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 17 Apr 2009 14:53 #31388

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brooklynreel wrote:
fyi

not sure about the other companies you mentioned, but criterion does not have distribution rights to any of their films. They only have the rights for dvd.

d

Criterion distributes only 20th Century Fox product in 16mm and DVD.
Bob Allen
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 17 Apr 2009 15:18 #31389

  • Larry Thomas
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You're close, Bob. There are two Criterions.

There's the DVD Criterion, who restores and releases classic and foreign films, and their 35mm theatrical releases come thru Janus Films or Rialto.

Then there's the Criterion Pictures who does the repertory distribution for Fox, as well as non-theatrical for other companies. They do DVD and 16mm distribution, but also handle 35mm prints. I have a whole flock of new 35mm Fox titles booked this summer...THE KING AND I, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, PLANET OF THE APES, THE HUSTLER, and the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 17 Apr 2009 21:00 #31390

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And they give you a public performance license as well? The Criterion I've talked with the last few years (located in the mid-west) said they couldn't issue a public performance license when I was wanting to use 16mm.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Gar 18 Apr 2009 10:28 #31391

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Good luck with attaching a screen to the top of a parking garage. About the only thing that would work are inflatable, and those are not ideal for day-to-day operations.

I am not a big fan of "improvised" drive-ins. If you are going to do it, then do it the right way.

Another drawback is the ambient light from a downtown area surrounding the parking garage. Getting a picture on the screen that is not washed out from ambient light will be next to impossible.

Rick
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 18 Apr 2009 23:31 #31393

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The city itself would have too much ambient light all over the place which would wash out the picture.

I've noticed the original poster has only posted once and not replied to our comments.
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Re:I want to open a Drive-In on top of Parking Garage 19 Apr 2009 04:15 #31394

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I had just looked up his (her) profile tonight and noticed the same thing. Amazing, that just one post from a first-timer can generate the responses taht this thread has!
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