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Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 19 Jun 2012 20:56 #38639

  • Andrew Thomas
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Hello all,

I've been in the process of developing the business plan for our cinema renovation and am at a point where I don't think I can re-open as a digital theater right away as all the lenders we have talked to have said absolute minimum of 12 months of books, 24 being preferred. They just don't seem to understand the whole VPF system and think it sounds way too fishy.

So we are thinking about rehabbing the current 35mm equipment and running that way and then going back to the lenders next year and just swallowing the whole cost of the digital switch ourselves. Numbers wise, it wouldn't kill us to do so (though I'd love to get in on the VPF!) but I get really worried when I read owners/operators talk about how much harder it has been getting for them to snag 35mm prints. But I feel like we need to explore all our options.

So my question is this: what is a good company to call about coming down to our place and giving us a quote on getting our 35mm equipment back up to snuff? We are in the Houston, TX area for geographical reference.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 19 Jun 2012 21:58 #38640

  • rufusjack
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I am confused. Are you operating now? You state that 12 mos of books is a problem to provide. VPFs are available only to operating theaters and I believe you need to be open for at least a year to qualify.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 19 Jun 2012 23:28 #38641

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No, the theater closed after a hurricane caused damage that made them lose their occupancy license from the city as the landlord couldn't afford the repairs out of pocket and it took many months to get the settlement with the insurance company. The company that ran it decided to just put their insurance cash into their other theater two towns over. When the landlord finally got the cashbto do the repairs, another gentlemen opened it as a second run/DVD theater until he went to prison on vehicular manslaughter charges.

We are looking into taking the space over as the landlord says they will pay the structural renovation costs if we take care of equipment renovation. Our problem is that even with good credit and a willingness to sign personal guarantees, all the lends we talk to want to see books showing an ability be repaid.

Without crossing into breaking NDA territory, some VPF agreements don't require you to be a currently operating theater to get in, but I can't really say any more than that.

But anyway, I'm just looking for recommendations on 35mm projector service companies that work in the Houston, TX area.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 20 Jun 2012 00:41 #38642

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Have you contacted equipment financing companies that digital equipment suppliers have recommended? It is my understanding that getting digital equipment financing through these folks is quite easy. That might be because of the VPF that they are getting too.

As far as VPF for your situation; I am unaware of a VPF deal available to you.

I would NOT re-open a theater at this point with 35mm equipment with the the idea of going digital a year from now.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 20 Jun 2012 11:37 #38643

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I guess I don't see what's so wrong in dipping your toe into running the theater with 35MM as long as you're aware of what it will take to get converted over AND you can still get prints. I'm not sure about that second part. Any 35MM people care to comment about getting prints these days? Anyway, you can see about the viability of the business before going into debt for all of that equipment. Once that happens, you're kind of stuck and almost have to keep going to make equipment loan payments. If there is a VPF option for you, then that would be the best situation by far and I'd jump all over it like a duck on a june bug (so to speak :sick: )

Have you tried Sonic and Strong for 35MM techs? As far as I know they work nationwide. My installer, Midwest Cinema will come down here too if he's not too swamped with digital installs (he probably is).
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 20 Jun 2012 15:34 #38644

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I think you'll be OK with 35mm for another year or two.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 14:38 #38645

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Here are the issues:

1) How long of a lease is the property owner making you sign? If they are having to put cash into the project, I doubt if they are only giving you a one year lease with options for you.

2) Currently VPF agreements have to be put into place by 9/30 and the equipment installed 6 mos. later. that means by April 1, the 99% of the top 3000 locations will be digital. While you may get a print for the 2013 summer Pixar movie, what are you going to play in April? September & October 2013?

3) This theater was not re-opened by the people who knew it the best.

4) How long will this take to get re-opened? 60 days min? That puts us in September. I bet we here stories about film being unavailable for many movies in September & October.

5) How many re-opened theaters do you know have a positive cash flow the first 12 months? I doubt you will be able to obtain financing 12 mos from now any easier than now.

6) Getting equipment financing with a VPF is easier to get?

7) Is there any equipment left in this place at all? popcorn machine? ice machine? sound equipment? seats?

8) Have you even spoken to a booker yet?

9) How many screens?

10) How close is your competition?
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 19:18 #38647

  • revroborisanidiot
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" wrote:
I think you'll be OK with 35mm for another year or two.

Seriously?
You have got to be kidding me!


Why won't anyone on this board every call out for his ridiculous statements?
People come here looking for good advice. Advice from the real world from people who are actually operating theaters. Yet, what do they get? They get advice to keep 35mm for a year or two from some guy who hasn't run movie theaters in half a decade or more.

The reality is that film probably won't be available past 2013. Yes, that's a year away. BUT....film will be scarce. It will go to towns that are performing...not to start ups with no track record. Furthermore, there is the very distinct possibility that if you were able to get film that you will have to pay $1,000 or more per print to get the film anyway as the studios will be charging you print costs because they aren't making many prints.
THIS IS REALITY. Why won't tell you this? BECAUSE HE DOESN'T KNOW. He's not in the industry anymore.

Quite frankly, it's terrible advice to keep 35mm and everyone on this board except for me seems to fear and won't tell him he is flat wrong.

Andrew, if you want real advice, don't use this board. Find a NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) publication and call some of the consultants listed. Do not trust anything you read here. This board has, quite frankly, some of the worst advice I've ever read.
Sincerely,
VPF
nooby
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revroborisanidiot
Last Edit: 21 Jun 2012 21:32 by Mike. Reason: a%%47le
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 20:16 #38648

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Wow! Someone needs a hug!
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 20:28 #38649

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Sometimes the truth hurts Jacker.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 21:16 #38650

  • Mike
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Clearly there is some truth here. But one truth is that no one has the right to be an insulting jerk. And this guy, whoever he is: is clearly and completely a obnoxious jerk. I'll do my best to ban this person but he's a bit like a drunk creep who has been thrown out of a party: he keeps coming back. And then I'll try to weigh in also.
Michael Hurley
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Last Edit: 21 Jun 2012 21:33 by Mike.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 21:29 #38651

jacker5 wrote:
Wow! Someone needs a hug!

Yes, Mike, that's exactly what I am. A drunk creep. Glad you figured me out.
I love that in a post telling people not to be an insulting jerk, you are an insulting jerk.
That's irony at it's best.

To Jacker's point above:
I need no hug. I need other people on this board to stand up to the nonsense.
I joined this board originally as VPF in order to try to get people who regularly use this board to think.
I also joined to try to correct incorrect perceptions about VPFs and how they worked.
Further, I would try to point out when people were breaking the law. Like Mike and Gene blatantly using intellectual property without paying for it (both of whom were essentially bragging about their theft).
For my efforts, I was kicked off the board. Dissent isn't tolerated well on this board.

You may be asking, Why do I care so much? Why do I continue to come back? Why don't I just ignore the board?
The answer to these questions is simple. I love this industry. I want new operators to succeed. I want existing operators to succeed. And, to do so, people need good advice. Sure, I understand that people can differ on some things...whether to fill soda for the customer to go to a self-serve environment or whether to put in rocker seats. I completely understand differences of opinion on things like this and I'd fully encourage great discussions on things like this. What I don't like to see is people being told to do something that will completely undermine their business or that simply doesn't make sense. Advice like revrobor gives to "not play the crap movies that Hollywood wants you to play" are, quite frankly, just shitty advice and are insulting to those of us who have made a living and know that customers want to see what he calls crap. Further his 35mm advice is completely wrong and he's been wrong about it for years now, yet no one on this board, including yourself, will ever say Boo to him. And, that's pissed me off. You all work in this industry (revrobor doesn't and hasn't for at least 5 years) and yet you guys sit back and let him say this nonsense without questioning it. If all of you were on this board to truly help, you would have shut this idiot revrobor (and others like him) up years ago. But, you haven't and won't. So, that's what I'm trying to do.

But, even though I was booted, I've been back under all the names listed.
Yeah, I've made some crap up just to stir the pot and to play devils advocate.
I've also used satire to make a few points.
But, I've not given ridiculous advice and I've always called a spade a spade. People on here, like rufusjack, seem to want good advice and seem to want real and true information. They deserve this and nothing less. We're well past the point where telling people 35mm is a good alternative is "opinion". It is, at this point, stupidity, and people need to know that.

VPF
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Last Edit: 21 Jun 2012 21:35 by Mikeisanidiot.
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 21:33 #38652

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Mike,

We are all adults. We can decide for ourselves who is a jerk and who is not. Still the message is important.

I would rather have good information from jerks than worthless information from a nice guy.

Business is tough. The banks will be a jerk if you do not pay them. So will the studios and government entities wanting their tax money. So will the ex-wife when after you made a bad business decision and lost the family's house.

But it is your website. If you want a kumbaya singing forum that is not as active as others than so be it.

Bob is awesome. His opinions are great.

Re-open any closed theater; it is a sound business decision
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 22:00 #38655

  • Mike
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Do I qualify? Is it okay if I express my "opinion"? And that is all it is. I can tell you what I know and what I think and what I believe and that's all. You will have to judge after that. When I ask an opinion here and I get divergent views I don't get my panties in a knot about one or two responses. Do I find one or another person skewed? Sure. If you live in a major or even large city you know nothing about smaller town America and to hear some guy from LA pontificate about the need for metal detectors is about as useful as listening to someone with an equally limited view if he thinks the world is a one size fits all. So... as a long time theatre owner and proud owner of 180K worth of 2k projectors that just put an image up for the first time let me respond to the obnoxious stated post.

1. he had it right: no one knows when 35 mm will go away. I will bet real money to anyone of you truly willing to put it up that 35 mm will be on screen for at least 2 more years. Not everywhere but ON SCREEN.
2. I spoke recently with an owner of a highly, highly, highly successful 13 screen in a prominent USA city and he was still "undecided" what to do about digital and didn't know as much about VPF's etc. as the guy on the street. This is a super high grossing theatre. As long as he wants 35mm he'll have it. Others... mabye not so much.
3. just spoke with one of the mini major art distribs: want a 35 mm print of one of this years biggest art house pics on the big break? All the 35 mm you want. "When will you not have 35 mm anymore?" He did not know but said that many theatres have not converted and it's slowing down the cutoff.
4. the only distrib who has even referenced a date is Fox "sometime in 2013". As long as they don't lose any business in which case they'll make prints.
5. all of the VPF integrators are in talks to extend the VPF: why? Because of the slow pace (even the insanely fast pace is still not fast enough) of the conversion.
6. when will "The end" arrive? Good question. I know lots of theatres that are not converting and some will get burned. It's already harder to get 35mm.
7. bottom line... to quote Don Rumsfeldt: because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." in other words: it ain't over yet and that's when the proof and the truth will be known.\
8. until then all we can do is express our opinions, listen, and make the best judgement call we can.
Michael Hurley
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Re: Reopening a theater, figuring out best course... 21 Jun 2012 22:06 #38656

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Thanks Jack. I have a lot of respect for you and the rest on this forum (except the jerk who doesn't seem mature enough to understand one can keep abreast of this industry without working day-to-day in a theatre) although we don't always agree. My opinions are based on being in and out of the business for 25 years, owning three theatres (single-screeners) of my own and working for Regal and CineMark up to '07. I hope one day I can meet you and the others in person.
Bob Allen
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