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TOPIC: Can drive in theatres be successful?

Can drive in theatres be successful? 24 May 2011 18:39 #36188

  • jfossnoc
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Community,

I currently reside is a fairly rural community with a large university population. Many of us on campus enjoy drive in theatres, however, the nearest theatre is a 60 minute drive. I consider myself to be entreprenuerial and am curious to know if a drive in theatre can be profitable in today's economic climate. I would appreciate any thoughts or references for further information. Thanks
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 24 May 2011 19:45 #36191

  • AllenD
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Wow! Here is a loaded questions that should get lots of different responses.

In warm climates drive in theatres are having a bit of a revival. I know of a Texas operator running venues all year long and doing so in digital.

On the other hand, in many parts of the country the fact that drive in theatres have such a short season stalls their operation. The ideal location for a drive in might have property too valuable to run three months of the year.

And of course there is the old digital question. To go forward you will need digital and for a traditional drive in screen the projector is quite expensive.

There are operators running botique type facilities with small digital units and inflatable screens. That may not be what you are looking for.

Insurance can be quite high at a drive in especially if there is playground equipment.

You will receive a lot of responses. There is also an active drive in association

Good luck!

AllenD
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 24 May 2011 20:16 #36192

  • jfossnoc
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Thanks AllenD,

The community I live in is seasonal and would only operate a drive in for approximately 3 months. The population of the immediate community is upwards of 170k, with the nearest drive in theatre 60 minutes away. The population would be sufficient enough to support the drive in. I have a few other marketing ideas, but am foreign to operations of a theatre. Further responses and resources would be greatly appreciated. Also, do you know the name of the drive in association that you have mention AllenD?

Thanks,
Josh
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 24 May 2011 20:24 #36193

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I should have included this. Sorry you had to ask.
I've heard good things about this group.
Allen D

www.driveintheatre-ownersassociation.org/
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 26 May 2011 03:17 #36209

  • Elin TW
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jfossnoc wrote:
Community,

I currently reside is a fairly rural community with a large university population. Many of us on campus enjoy drive in theatres, however, the nearest theatre is a 60 minute drive. I consider myself to be entreprenuerial and am curious to know if a drive in theatre can be profitable in today's economic climate. I would appreciate any thoughts or references for further information. Thanks

As with many other things in life, I think people like the idea of a drive-in but don't actually go enough to make it economically viable. There is always a reason not to go...too hot...to cold...to late...rain, etc. Digital makes it even harder as you need a huge watt bulb and much expense and little life.
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 03 Aug 2011 05:26 #36785

  • crazybob
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I think that a drive-in is the best way to see movies with family & friends. It 's a 4-5 hour experience that is affordable, & breeds repeat business! America could use more drive-in's & less mega-plexes!
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 03 Aug 2011 18:44 #36790

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I agree with crazybob (maybe us Bobs just stick together). But the success of a drive-in, or any theatre depends on how you run it. Family and friends is your best target audience.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 03 Aug 2011 23:11 #36796

  • jenhelene
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I don't operate a drive-in, so I can't help much in that department.

When I first considered opening a theater, I called some theaters a few hours away and asked to chat with them about it. My husband and I, when out of town, even visited a couple of theaters and got an idea of what their prices were, concession sales, who handled their booking and technical repair, etc. We were amazed at how "open" some people were and how eager they were to take us under their wing. We've befriended the State Theater and even worked with Michael Moore himself in doing fundraisers and promotions with our little 2-screen theater!

Big Screen Biz is a great resource for asking help along the way -- but if you feel comfortable, find out what your neighbors are doing. What works for them? What doesn't? If any closed over the years, try to figure out what they did wrong, or didn't do right. We were very fortunate that we had old box office reports of the previous theater owners that were left in a dusty filing cabinet. It was a gold mine in establishing what worked in that town, and what didn't.
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 01:30 #36798

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I can only speak about why I think my drive-in is successful. The concession money pays for ALL bills, except film rental. (I self book.) I pay myself every night with my portion of the ticket money. I never mix it with the food money. I don't restrict outside food. Rarely does anybody bring any in. I make my own pizza dough, hand cut fries, fresh wings, pulled pork BBQ, etc. I don't go around enforcing rules. I tell them, "as in Vegas, what happens in your car, stays in your car. Your rights end when you encroach on the rights of others!" I'm saving for digital, but I'll always show vintage films on a two projector system. I may even put carbon lamps back in the film booth. I get bored watching platters spinning around! How boring must it be to run digital, & call yourself a projectionist. I miss the adrenalin rush I used to get from striking a lamp & making a change over. I'm going back to that & I don't care what the united drive-in club thinks of me! They already banned me from membership, so I'm a lone wolf having the time of my life playing with my hobby drive-in! Thank, Crazy (aspie) Bob.
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 05:32 #36801

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Way to go Bob!!!!! Those carbon arcs will give you a better and warmer light. There are those here who will tell you there won't be any film in a couple of years. I doubt that. But they will be making film prints for many years to come especially for the overseas market. You're right. Anyone who pushes one or two buttons and walks away is not a projectionist.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 12:56 #36802

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Wow!Not only are we pushing the notion that film will survive in the domestic market for a long time but that carbon arc may be the way to go. I hope new folks to the industry ignore this advice.
By the way, I've seen a drive in digital picture and it beats anything else I've ever seen.

However, I will say that fresh food, carefully prepared, at the drive in does set the facility apart. That's great. "Crazy Bob's" menu sounds wonderful.

AllenD
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 12:58 #36803

  • CGM
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Carbon Arcs? Really? I hope we are being kidded.
Why not dump that pesky sound and save the hassle of FM sound or drive in speakers.
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 17:40 #36804

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IMHO,
I can see going to the drive-in at least once to show kids how things used to be but my car or truck is the last place I would want to watch a movie. Just me.
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 17:45 #36805

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It looks as though some don't know that carbon arcs are still in use in some theatres in this country and around the world. And obviously they've never seen a picture lit by carbons.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Can drive in theatres be successful? 04 Aug 2011 18:11 #36806

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What day are they going to stop making carbons & we will all be forced to switch to xenon? .. I'm a disc jockey & I'm still buying vinyl! ..I see that Wal*Mart is still selling VCR's. To each his own. I'm 59 & the happiest I've ever been! Thanks Crazy (you have to be crazy to be in this businees!) Bob.
Last Edit: 04 Aug 2011 18:12 by crazybob. Reason: I have asperger's syndrome
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