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TOPIC: Extra Revenue Question

Extra Revenue Question 04 Nov 2011 14:53 #37344

  • paulii_2000
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I am looking to maximize revenue from a one screen theater. Besides on screen advertising, does anyone have any suggestions? I know I can get commercials on film from screen vision, but I would rather not do that if I can.
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 04 Nov 2011 16:39 #37345

  • revrobor
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At the last one-screener I managed most of the profit came from the concession stand. Of course the admission was only .99 cents. But on a day I took in $400. at the box I took in $1,200. at the concession stand. Try increasing the variety of what you sell at the concession stand.
Bob Allen
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 13 Nov 2011 08:31 #37386

You can also try theater rentals with birthday parties, groups etc.
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 15 Nov 2011 06:09 #37400

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Paulii_2000 and others.

Operating a single screen theatre in this day and age can indeed be challenging. Having only one screen certainly limits the number of movies that you can play any given week. Of course you can split the screen in various ways, such as one movie at 7 and another at 9. Or one for matinees only and another for evenings only, or even a 3rd for midnight shows on Fri. and/or Sat. nights. But you probably know that already. What you’re questioning is: How do I create extra income from all the down time that most theatres have? Many theatres, especially in small towns, sit dark all mornings and weekday afternoons, and possibly weekday evenings as well if you’re only open on weekends.

There are many things that can be done to fill the void and bring in extra income, both in cash and community good will.

Of course what can be done will depend on what type of theatre you have. If your theatre is strictly a movie house with a screen down front and minimal lobby space you will be limited to what you can do, BUT if you have a stage and some support space such as dressing rooms, green room, backstage rest rooms and/or a larger lobby or an extra room near or above the lobby, all the better, as it can be used for all kinds of special events.

Let’s look at the theatre with a stage first. Your seating capacity will have as much bearing on what you can do as the size of the stage itself. You can make your theatre available to promoters and various community groups for plays, concerts, dance recitals, talent shows, pageants, fashion shows… you name it, anything that you can put on a stage. Now unless you have at least 1000 to 1500 seats or more, you can for the most part rule out national touring acts. There are some touring acts that you can bring into a 300 to 500 seat house, but they are not the big names and are for the most part, a hard sell… very risky indeed. What you can support are local organizations… community theatre groups, school programs, church programs, and special programs put on by local service clubs, and local promoters for regional music acts, etc. I’ve found that one of the most popular uses for my theatre is weddings. Weddings are best done on a stage, but don’t have to be. They can be done down front in front of the screen, possibly on risers, and preferably in front of a curtain or some other kind of backdrop. Often the couple getting married, create a DVD slide or video presentation with pictures of them growing up and dating as a lead in to the ceremony. Being able to open and close the curtain adds a lot to that presentation.

Speaking of churches, not only are some churches looking for places to put on religious themed plays or musical productions, but often looking for a place to hold Sunday morning services if they have outgrown their present facility, or are just starting out. Sunday morning service rentals have helped keep a lot of theatres open.

Service clubs are always looking for something different to do to make their meetings more interesting. A theatre tour, especially backstage tour, after the business meeting and/or a short film presentation will go a long way to help them attract more attendees to their meeting. While they may not be able to accommodate a rental fee in their budget, you might either get some concession sales from them or you can arrange a box lunch brought in that you can mark up a dollar or two for each to help cover utility costs. Not everything you do should be evaluated in dollars received. Often the positive publicity generated is considerably more rewarding in the long run then a usage fee.

Class reunions have become a popular usage at my theatre. Especially once they have passed the 40 year mark. By that time, they are usually held at the community center as a luncheon as the older folks prefer not to go out at night. After the luncheon they come down to the theatre and I show them a few old time shorts and a couple of cartoons and then a theatre tour. They love it, as it brings back many fond memories for them. I don’t charge them any set price, but they give a donation to the theatre which usually is quite generous.

There are many things that can be done even if you don’t have a stage.

Photo shoots have become very popular, both inside and outside the theatre. Various travel and fashion groups like to use the unique architecture of the theatre as a backdrop to newspaper and magazine articles. One local magazine is having a special Christmas fashion segment that will be featured next month that was shot throughout the theatre, in the lobby, the auditorium, backstage and in the dressing rooms. Since I let them do it for free, they are doing a feature story about the theatre with pictures as well. You can’t buy that kind of advertising at any price.

Antique car clubs love to come and have the members have their restored cars photographed in front of the theatre with the marquee all lit up. Arrangements are made whereby the photographer and the theatre get x number of dollars from each picture sale. We have had as many as several hundred cars photographed per session. The town closes off the street for several hours to allow the photo shoot to take place. Other times the car clubs will rent the theatre for a meeting and a movie, always one that features many antique cars.

TV commercials and programs are another source of potential income. Because of our restored unique original marquee, we have become a popular backdrop for TV commercials. Dodge trucks, PPL electric, the Weather Channel are just a few. We were also used in the opening scenes in the Paramount movie “School Ties” back in 91. Several times in recent years we were used for shots needing a theatre in The Forensic Files TV show. If your theatre has an attractive front or marquee you probably can find many that would be interested in using it.

Someone else mentioned birthday parties. These can be very lucrative events. There are many different ways you can handle these. I do them for the most part as a private rental during Saturday mornings, but you can do a special package during regular scheduled showings as well. I get special program rentals from scout troops, cheerleading groups and athletic organizations for trophy and awards programs as well.

If you put your mind to it, it is almost limitless as to what you can use your theatre for.

I need to stress that it isn’t always that important that you make a lot of money from any one event, but that you get as many segments of the community involved in using your theatre as possible. By making your theatre an integral part of your community, it becomes a regular part of the lives of your local residents, and they in return are more apt to become a regular part of your movie attendance.
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 15 Nov 2011 17:09 #37401

  • revrobor
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Much wisdom here Paulii. Read is carefully.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 16 Nov 2011 02:40 #37402

  • paulii_2000
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I appreciate the wisdom. This will be helpful. My only other question is since this movie runs first run movies, should it may be not do that? Thoughts?
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 17 Nov 2011 15:18 #37406

  • leeler
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My single screen runs movies after the break and it is the highest grossing single screen theater in the state. That's not say that this is a recipe for success (by ANY means). It means that in my market it works well. Your market may very well be different and you may be better served by doing things differently. I don't know much about your market and/or your competition so it is difficult to give you advice on how you should develop your business model.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 17 Nov 2011 16:27 #37407

  • RoxyVaudeville
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I appreciate the wisdom. This will be helpful. My only other question is since this movie [theatre] runs first run movies, should it maybe not do that? Thoughts?

I assume that you are referring to the comments on splitting the screen with several different movies. Yes indeed, if you are a first run you will not be able to split your screen. At least not during the first several weeks. The time you will have to wait will depend on your market area.

However, there is no reason that you can't do any of the other things that I mentioned during the hours that the theatre is normally dark.

If you want to involve the community in using your theatre as a stage presentation facility which would require use of the theatre on evenings or weekends, you just need to arrange your bookings to allow time between them for other useages. There is another single screen theatre here in my area that is owned by a local community theatre group that runs first run (mostly art and independent) movies most of the time, but sets aside four or five weeks each year for their stage productions.

Eventually you will discover which format brings you the most return and you will lean toward that kind of programing.
Last Edit: 17 Nov 2011 16:31 by RoxyVaudeville.
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 18 Nov 2011 08:54 #37408

  • rufusjack
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Hey Pauli,

Would you be interested is being a case study?

You could give us more details, take a bunch of pictures and post them to a photobucket account, share with us your website, facebook page, etc. Gimme you zip code and I will give you a good demographic & market analysis.

You game?
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 18 Nov 2011 19:12 #37410

  • paulii_2000
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Leeler,

The previous owners do this, but usually run a first run movie and then bring in a movie for a week and then continue this process. I was thinking that after the first run movie break is up, bring in another movie to play with this movie and possible do a double feature. Have you tried that before or have you found that doing it your way with one theater is better and more profitable? Also how much do you charge?
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 19 Nov 2011 02:29 #37411

  • leeler
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hmmm, I'm getting a little confused with your terminology above. I generally bring in movies for a one week run. They are usually in the three to six week old range when I get them. I've tried running a split screen but it never seems to work out very well and I'm left wishing I had just kept it simple and had all of my shows be for one movie. I charge $4 for Mondays and matinees and $5 for the evenings (3D adds $1).

We have altered our booking strategy after buying the neighboring six screen theater. We used to do what we could to compete with them and booked movies on the break as often as we could. This sure made our grosses go up but the expenses went right up with them so much so that it didn't seem like it helped. Now we are pretty exclusively an after the break kind of theater and it is much simpler to run which I surely need because running a six screen is HARD!

We also run a small video store alongside our single screen and that gets movie customers into the building, which helps. We've tried offering an expanded concession stand (hot dogs, french fries, etc) but have found the extra payroll wasn't worth it and we ended up losing money. We are in a VERY small market. We are the county seat of a county without ANY stoplights....

We also live upstairs from the theater in a large loft. This really helps for a variety of reasons. Financially we have one mortgage payment that, while is larger then just a theater by itself would be is definitely smaller then a theater one plus a house one would be. Also, we can get deliveries by just coming downstairs when we're needed. And the commute can't be beat! Now if I could just get a handle on the commute to the six screen....
"What a crazy business"
Last Edit: 19 Nov 2011 16:14 by leeler.
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 21 Nov 2011 21:24 #37426

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Oh ok. So you get movies after the break, not when it first comes out and you also play movies for 1 week. I will suggest that to my friend. I think he is trying to make it a 4-5 plex theater eventually since there is a vacant place next door so it won't be a problem then. What I was thinking would be a good idea is doing either a double feature after the break on the first-run movie or maybe a 2 for 1 price. Its more of a giving customers to show appreciation for them coming to the theater. Whats your thought on that and also is it worth getting a digital projector now or get another 35mm projector for now?
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 22 Nov 2011 19:35 #37436

  • leeler
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I guess the answer of whether to go digital now versus waiting is: it depends. Do you have a VPF deal? If so, you need to get a digital system really quickly and then I wouldn't bother with 35MM. If you don't and want to wait to hopefully make some money before investing in digital equipment then go for 35MM and wait it out. By the way, I still have 35MM equipment available that I will let go for pennies on the dollar. PM me for details and pix
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 22 Nov 2011 19:47 #37437

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I have a company that I am working with that we are either getting a digital projector or a like-new 35mm projector. Do you have a platter?
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Re: Extra Revenue Question 22 Nov 2011 21:44 #37438

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I have two platters left, six Century projectors with sound equipment installed on them, plus make-up tables, splicers, etc.
"What a crazy business"
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