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TOPIC: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo

Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 15 Mar 2012 18:40 #38059

  • JPRM
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One theme that pops up on here with some frequency is a certain dismissiveness of one-screen theaters as businesses. Whenever someone asks for advice on getting into a one-screen, the response is almost always "add a second screen."

Now...I know the math on that very well. The numbers don't lie. But I also wonder if there's a certain amount of regionalism inherent in that advice.

Where I live, there are quite a few one-screen theaters, and they all seem to be doing quite well. (That includes three within walking distance of where I'm sitting right now.) For one thing, people around here like to support them. It doesn't hurt that the prices are much better than in chains. Most of these are, indeed, first-run.

So I just wonder if there's a certain mojo factor at play that isn't present in all markets. After all, if people just want to go to a one-screen instead of a multiplex, that doesn't really show up on a spreadsheet.
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 15 Mar 2012 19:36 #38061

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JPRM wrote:
One theme that pops up on here with some frequency is a certain dismissiveness of one-screen theaters as businesses. Whenever someone asks for advice on getting into a one-screen, the response is almost always "add a second screen."

Now...I know the math on that very well. The numbers don't lie. But I also wonder if there's a certain amount of regionalism inherent in that advice.

Where I live, there are quite a few one-screen theaters, and they all seem to be doing quite well. (That includes three within walking distance of where I'm sitting right now.) For one thing, people around here like to support them. It doesn't hurt that the prices are much better than in chains. Most of these are, indeed, first-run.

So I just wonder if there's a certain mojo factor at play that isn't present in all markets. After all, if people just want to go to a one-screen instead of a multiplex, that doesn't really show up on a spreadsheet.

That is extremely difficult to quantify. The odds are against you in my opinion. How long have those theaters been open? How long owned by the current owners? Are they very nice and cool?

Even Roxy who has a cool, very nice theater and has owned it for at least 24 years said a year or so ago that if he ran across his theater in a closed state for sometime would take the project on.
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 15 Mar 2012 20:01 #38062

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JPRM - Much, if not most, of the advise you receive on this site is from those who own and have had most of their experience in multiplexes. It takes a special talent (like Roxy) to run a single screener. Those who run multiplexes seem to believe the more screens you have the more of a chance you have to be successful because you can throw more films on the screens and some of them are bound to be successful. This requires no promotion ("showmanship") on the local level. I firmly believe that a single screener can be successful in any situation if run correctly (again like Roxy).
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 19 Mar 2012 16:22 #38090

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revrobor wrote:
JPRM - Much, if not most, of the advise you receive on this site is from those who own and have had most of their experience in multiplexes..... I firmly believe that a single screener can be successful in any situation if run correctly (again like Roxy).

Bob, I know you've been around a long time, and I share many of the "showmanship" elements you often speak of.

I don't want this to come off mean-spirited, but I believe you are aware of the opportunities that existed in my market when you lived here. Could none of them have been transformed, using the procedures you often talk about?

At one time or another, the Admiral, Roxy, Plaza Twin, Charleston and Holiday Twin were all closed and available. Various survival tactics were tried in all of them, under nearly every format imaginable. Today, only one is running (weekends), playing old movies with "strong stories". Time will tell if that person has hit on a viable idea.
Last Edit: 19 Mar 2012 16:25 by rodeojack.
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 19 Mar 2012 17:00 #38091

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Let's see here...

Rufusjack - very good point that it's difficult to quantify. That's what I mean when I say certain elements that make a one-screen viable don't show up on a spreadsheet. It's just about knowing a community...and recognizing that what makes perfect sense in one region (or town) may not work in another.

The theaters I mentioned have all been open for a long time, and they're quite different from one another in terms of programming and vibe. The owner of one of the three is planning to move out of town soon. He'll sell his biz, but he's done well with it as far as I know. His place is VERY funky and plays to the alt-crowd. Of the others, one is a second-run with beer, wine and pizza, and the other is a somewhat funky, laid back and friendly first-run.

My wife and I took our kid to see The Lorax at yet another first-run one-screen about a week ago. The place was, indeed, packed on a Sunday afternoon. This theater itself is not all that special. But it's cheaper than the chains, and it's a neighborhood cinema. People who go there probably see it as "their" theater. That last bit has nothing to do with math, but I think it's a huge factor in what can make a one-screen work. And I wonder if that concept is a bit alien in some parts of the country.

Again, where you live does play a role in all this.
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 19 Mar 2012 18:38 #38093

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I know of one new operator with a lot of experience in the biz and he's running a nice single in a major metro area and really cramming it with films and show times plus just added making real pizza, has a full bar. I think population and "sides" makes the difference. A single in a small town? Very problematic if it is a for profit operation.
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: Viability of a One-Screen: Math vs. Mojo 19 Mar 2012 19:48 #38096

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Well...yeah! I don't think a one-screen is a good bet just anywhere. And it only helps if you can do something to make your theater special in some way. My only thought on this, really, has been that adding screens is not the only way to make a theater work...and that the market in which you're operating has a lot to do with how well you can do with one screen.
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