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TOPIC: Saving The Little Guys.

Saving The Little Guys. 15 May 2010 16:43 #33977

After five years of dreadful gutting and re-building, we have finally opened our little theatre in Orleans, Indiana. We rebuilt it as a multi purpose venue, (Bands, Magic, Puppets, Live theatre and Movies).

We are wanting to show classic movies, but we need dvd format as we are using Digital projection.

It seems all movies are going to run us about $300, we only seat 80 so this is well beyond our budget.

I was told by a former projectionist, that had I kept the 35mm projector, i could have got second run for $50 a week. I am new to this obviously, but it seems that $300 is a it steep.

Can anyone shed some light on the subject of booking for single screens? I am not looking for allot of money here, but I would like to break even at the door.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 15 May 2010 17:03 #33978

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You'll never break even at the door. Most of the money in theatres is made at the concession stand. $300. is not an unreasonable rental price. Film companies usually charge a percentage of the boxoffice gross. That is an average of 55%. I've had Disney charge me 90%. You can get the DVDs anyplace but you have to get the public performance license from the film's distributor. Go to the "Directory" page of this site and click on film distributors. Or you can hire a booker. You'll find some listed in the same directory. You'll need a powerful video projector (at least 4,000 lumens). It sounds as though you need to do a lot of reading on this and other theatre sites as you don't seem to know much about the theatre business. Good luck. It's a wonderful business.
Bob Allen
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 15 May 2010 19:04 #33979

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The min booking fee can be as low as $150 but seems to more likely to be $250.
That fee is usually the same for a 1 week run and a 3 week run.

Bob, I am tired of this "most of the money is made at the concession stand". Just not true. If you average $7 per ticket you will have a gross profit of $3.15 per person. If you average $3 per cap and run an aggressive 80% gross, you will have a $2.40 gross profit per person.

If you run a discount theater and sell tickets for $3 (you will average 40% or less in film rental) you will have a gross margin of $1.80. More than likely you will have to price your concession at a 70% gross and probably collect a little less than $3 per cap.

Theaters make money off of both ticket sales and concession sales at pretty close equal percents.

I have never been charged 90% in the past 3 years.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 15 May 2010 21:48 #33980

Thanks for the reply, helped much. I do have 5000 lumens 65 feet from a 13 x 24 screen. I have been doing outdoor movies for three years now and pay $300 from swank for one night. I guess I may be under estimating the potential for weekday revenue. Thanks
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 15 May 2010 22:41 #33981

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Hey Jack!

Perhaps I was expressing my experience at the last house I managed. Our ticket price was .99cents across the board (we usually got films about four weeks after the break). I usually made about $400 at the box (240 seats) on a Saturday and took in $1200 at concessions. Disney would charge me 90% of the box if I made $1400 or more in a week. Back in the 60s in the three houses I owned my concessions always exceeded my box gross.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 09:54 #33982

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I paid 70% once (Shrek the Third) first week and I've had the 90/10 kick in on more then one occasion but I think for budgeting purposes you should use more of an average and say about 40% for the little single screen in Indiana that is looking to bring in older product as a complement to live events. If that is the case then the minimum of $250 might be more applicable. The 90% figure has been floated around these boards for years and IMHO shouldn't be used with newbies as it just scares them. Yes, there might be an example where it occurred but it is simply not the norm. I have a single screen and my average since going digital in December was 49%. That is the highest it has been since I opened in 2003 as I have been growing my business and have been bringing in more and more movies on the break then I have in the past.
"What a crazy business"
Last Edit: 16 May 2010 09:57 by leeler.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 13:45 #33983

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Bob,

Your experiences (while nice to reminiscence about) are far from reality right now. I do not know of any theater charging only $.99 for tickets and I doubt if any of them if they existed would be getting movies only 4 weeks old.

Much has changed in over 40 years.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 14:01 #33984

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In Bob's defense, that theater still exists and still charges 99 cents. They are about forty-three miles west of my theater. They are currently playing Hot Tub Time Machine and start Alice in Wonderland on Friday. These movies are 8-12 weeks old and I've been following them for some time now. This is fairly typical for them. They do remarkably well and as they are somewhat competitive with me I think they affect my business to a small extent. We certainly have customers that we share.

You can find out about them here
www.sumnersunsettheatre.com/
"What a crazy business"
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 16:14 #33985

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Thanks leeler. He's right jack. I have kept tabs on the place since leaving it in '06. It's now managed by a college kid and owned by a non-profit board. That same board has bought the Fridley theatre in Olewine. Based on my experience the majority of a theatre's income is generated at a well-stocked and reasonably priced concession stand. We even had 25 cent candy there and had to restock it every week.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 16:25 #33986

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having said that, if you're only charging 99 cents for a ticket then you better be making more money at your concession stand or you're going to be "hurting for certain". I charge $5 ($4 matinees and $1 3D upcharge) for tickets and I have reasonably priced concessions ($3 medium popcorn and $2 medium pop). My take is almost exactly split fifty fifty between tickets and concessions. We do pretty well if I do say so myself and we are growing year after year. To each his own on how to price their theater for their clientele. My only advice is to try something but don't be afraid to change to something else if it isn't working. Always innovate and continuously improve.
"What a crazy business"
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 17:15 #33987

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revrobor wrote:
Thanks leeler. He's right jack. I have kept tabs on the place since leaving it in '06. It's now managed by a college kid and owned by a non-profit board. That same board has bought the Fridley theatre in Olewine. Based on my experience the majority of a theatre's income is generated at a well-stocked and reasonably priced concession stand. We even had 25 cent candy there and had to restock it every week.

Non-profit board, so they probably rely on volunteers to operate? have no lease expense? Buidling given to them? recieve grants? Fund raise?

Rare situations. Leeler, I would not be concerned with they both are over 45 mins away.

cinematreasures.org/news/22868_0_1_0_M/

OELWEIN, IA — The Sumner Sunset Theatre, a non profit community based organization, is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Oelwein theatre complex effective 1 February 2010. The acquisition was made possible in large part by a funding grant from the Northeast Iowa Charitable foundation and the cooperation of the current complex owner, Fridley Theatres.

The Sunset Theatre has successfully operated a 99 movie house in a restored single screen cinema in Sumner for approximately five years. Community leaders in Oelwein approached the Sunset for assistance when it learned Fridley was interested in selling the property to a community based group as an alternative to shutting down the complex.

In conjunction with concerned citizens of Oelwein, the Sunset theatre has developed a plan to continue first run movie service at the Oelwein location. “Family focused 99 cent movies remain the core of the Sumner location,” noted Doyle Wegner, president of the organization. “We intend to continue to offer first run movies at the current prices at the Oelwein complex.”

As the theatre transitions from current operations to a community based project, some changes will be needed. Roger Beane of Oelwein is coordinating volunteers to help with the concessions and ticketing work. The theatre intends to continue to use DECA students to provide entry level work experience. The majority of the staff will be retained after the transition.

The name of the theatre will be restored to the “The Grand.” Any one with memorabilia or photos of The Grand are invited share them as the organization looks to incorporate elements of The Grand back into the theatre. The theatre will “go dark” for a short time period to allow for the training of volunteers and installation of new concessions and minor repairs. A grand reopening will be scheduled at a later date.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 16 May 2010 17:49 #33988

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I guess 'concerned' isn't the right word; 'interested' is more like it. If anybody has a theater that truly doesn't have ANY theater competition then that is really rare and should be cherished. Both of these theaters are a 45 minute drive away and so I don't consider them direct competition but, like I said, we probably share some customers. There is another community run theater that is 35 miles south that is closer to a direct competitor but the real competition for me is the one 30 minutes northeast of me. It is a six screen and gets most of the new movies the day they are released. I lose the teenage crowd to this theater even if they know I'm going to be playing it at a later date. This bugs the hell outta me but I just can't compete with a six screen no matter what I do. In any case, I didn't mean to take over this thread.

The real question posed by the guy who started the thread is about percentages owed for movies after the break and playing movies on a 5000 lumen projector. Seems doable but it just won't be near as good as a true film projector. 5000 lumens is good but the more you can get and the better contrast ratio you can get the better off you'll be. My digital projector is 17000 lumens and my throw and screen size are similar. You can probably do a decent enough job with about half of that, though. Saw your website, it looks good.
"What a crazy business"
Last Edit: 16 May 2010 19:01 by leeler.
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Re:Saving The Little Guys. 17 May 2010 02:50 #33989

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No jack. The theatre is run by paid employees. The only volunteers are the board members. I don't know if they received grant money to rebuild the place but when I managed it the theatre was supporting itself.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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