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TOPIC: How do I start all this?

How do I start all this? 21 Feb 2012 21:37 #37895

So, I'm a college Junior who wants to open a movie theater when I graduate. It would be an art house-ish venue with 3-4 screens, a laid back bar, and all sorts of special screenings (retrospectives, midnight screenings, short films). I'd like to open it in a college town, too, and cater to that sort of audience (well, more the nerd crowd than the frat life).

The thing is, however, that I know nothing about opening a business of any kind, let alone a movie theater. I plan on taking some business classes as soon as I can, but I'm wondering if anyone here with experience would mind giving me some advice simply on where to begin.

I realize how naive this whole post must sound, but I have to start somewhere. The way I look at it now, I start asking questions now, by the time I graduate, I might know what I'm doing.
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Re: How do I start all this? 21 Feb 2012 22:49 #37896

  • revrobor
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Welcome to these forums my young friend. You will find a lot of info on this site so just start checking it out. There are even books on this subject. I do not favor selling booze at a theatre. I believe if you can't draw in customers with what you put on the screen then you are not doing a good job of booking. There are those here who will disagree with me but that's OK as we all have our opinions. I would say the first thing you need to do is make sure you have (or can get) the money to do what you want. Converting a building is usually cheaper than building from the ground up. Then you need to pick a location and determine what the demographic is and what the competition is. A theatre architect would be a good idea. You can get costs from a contractor. A theatre supply company can give you the cost on equipment (just about everything you need to run the theatre). Others will be posting here too. Good luck.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: How do I start all this? 22 Feb 2012 03:46 #37897

  • slapintheface
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Go and work in a theater - thats the best place to start.
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Re: How do I start all this? 22 Feb 2012 20:28 #37905

  • Narrow Gauge
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Slap is correct. At your age spend some time working in the biz. Working your way up is the best way to answer the questions you have. Good luck
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Re: How do I start all this? 24 Feb 2012 16:40 #37916

  • scwforever
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You are in the same position I was last year. How do I "start" this. After working in the theater business for over 20 years, and with the conversion to digital, I thought I would give a shoot at starting my own business and finally opening up my own theater. You might find what you need, but it does take a long time to go through all the posts (I was reading posts going back 5 years...some even older).

Don't get discouraged. I thought at times I was going to rip my hair out, and I thought "What do these people mean I'll find my answers...i can't find anything I'm looking for...i'm swimming in old forums of "will 3-D work, won't it work...will I switch to digital, long live 35mm film....35mm film is dead...blah blah blah", but on the other hand there can be useful information. Use the search feature on this forum and type in single words like business; start out; budget, ect. That helped me narrow my search down.

Also, I had no idea how to actually "start" a business, so any classes you can get in college on starting a business I would look into...and of course check out your local library for some good books on starting a business . I read a lot, and got a better idea on how to start this venture as a small business owner.

I've been working on getting a business proposal together for a 4 screen theatre to convert it to digital, and some of the biggest help have been from friends in the business that I developed, and actually talking to a film booker (that was a big help). For some reason, theater owners, managers, filmmakers, film bookers, distributors, ect love to chat about movies and the business. So you might not need to get a job at a theater, but you should network with some theater owners. Of course working at a movie theater was always fun when I was in college...i loved it! Some of the bigger chains will hire directly into management positions with a degree.

I will let you know there are ups and downs...I lost two theaters that I attempted to get ahold of, someone else got to them (basically the owners of the property wanted someone with a few theaters under their belts. One property manager of a strip mall actually decided to have the theater ran by hiring their own staff and run the theater after I spoke to him...grrrrr. Basically they saw numbers, great ideas and thought..hey lets cut out the middle man. Fine. What doesn't kill me only make me stronger!

So good luck! I saw your post and thought I would share my experience.
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