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TOPIC: It's begun ..

It's begun .. 12 Sep 2012 02:57 #39159

  • slapintheface
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Theaters are up for sale , lease in record numbers. What's surprising the amount of theaters just closing and not even bothering to try to sell.
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It's begun .. 12 Sep 2012 07:19 #39160

  • jacker5
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They bailed out the car companies.... why cant someone step in and help the theatre owners the same way!
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It's begun .. 12 Sep 2012 11:35 #39161

  • lionheart
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I can think of a few reasons someone would not try to sell their closing theater.

First, they probably didn't make enough money to attract a buyer, especially with the need to inject more capital for new projection equipment right off the bat.

Second, they may be still waiting it out. When the cost of new digital equipment falls far enough, or when good used equipment becomes more readily available at a much lower price, then it may make sense to reopen, or it would at least make it easier to find a buyer.

Third, they may be trying to sell it, but not the way you would expect, and not in places you would look. They may be just trying to sell as commercial space, or land value, or whatever.

As for a government bailout... the car companies' bailouts required payback. They were really just big loans. The government already has loan programs through the Small Business Administration, the Dept. of Agriculture, and possibly more of which I am unaware. Loans from these places can be hard to get for the simple reason that the new equipment may not put a theater in a position to pay it back. They won't necessarily sell more tickets just because they are digital. So, for the same reason they couldn't save up money to buy the equipment themselves, or they couldn't justify a VFP deal, they may not qualify for a loan through a government program.

The only way I can see any government entity getting involved is at the local level. A city may decide that their local theater is important enough to assist a theater owner. I've read a few stories here and there about that type of thing. Some theaters are already city owned and operated much like other community services. Typically this kind of thing will only happen in a small town, but that is where many struggling theaters are located. But not every small town is willing to get involved.
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It's begun .. 12 Sep 2012 15:47 #39162

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Most of the slope floor theaters would cost more to convert to retail that digital . The build out cost are tremendous-- That being said is you have a decent lobby they just lease the lobby and board up the auditorium part---- or use as storage units /warehouse space then it does not matter.
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It's begun .. 12 Sep 2012 23:11 #39165

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It doesn't have to cost a lot to flatten a sloped floor. It doesn't have to be torn out. It can be raised with added material. Hollow voids should be ok if completely lined with fire resistant material like sheetrock. That way the voids won't need to be equipped with additional fire sprinklers.

You could also create flat sections or rooms connected by ramps to achieve a handicap accessible multi-level space.

Yes this will cost some money, but not as much as digital projection. And if a theater is well equipped, a renter or buyer could avoid some of the expensive parts of finishing a space, like adding restrooms, installing fire sprinklers, upgrading electrical systems, installing heat and A/C systems. At least this is true for my theater.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 02:56 #39168

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Most cities would never allow that . Must be concreted in --and then all exit doors must represent new heights ....then all walls would be taken down to support retail .
Last Edit: 13 Sep 2012 03:00 by slapintheface.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 04:12 #39169

  • revrobor
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You're not thinking of doing that with your theatre are you Richard? I have no doubt the right operator can make a success of the Gentry, even with 35mm equipment for the time being. If only.

Bob
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 12:08 #39172

  • lionheart
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Slap, my theater already has a wooden floor, so it certainly would not need to be "concreted in". I would also have the option of simply ripping up the floor boards and releveling to the height of the fire exits. You have to go up a ramp at both ends of the big house to get out anyway.

As for having fire resistant dead spaces under floors, I'm sure it is not beyond possibility. I remember reading about the requirements for having unsprinkled attic space or beneath stadium seating. Shouldn't be any different underneath a raised floor. If it wasn't raised more than a certain height, I'm sure you wouldn't need to worry about putting in the additional fire resistant materials.

I have seen old theaters used as retail space with sloped floors intact. This wouldn't work for many "A List" kind of retailers these days, but for the right location and the right rent, some retailers would probably be willing to deal with it. Small towns don't usually attract a lot of national chain retailers anyway.

Bob, I have no plans to convert my theater to retail. I would be willing to rent for many purposes other than a theater as long as they don't want to make significant changes to the building. If they want to start tearing out walls and leveling floors, I would only allow it if they buy outright. If the property belongs to somebody else, I wouldn't have any say. It would be sad, but it would be their business. I do hope that the theater will again be used as a theater, or at least something that would allow it to someday return to that function.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 16:45 #39176

  • JPRM
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I'm always a little surprised that on this site and in media, digital is always portrayed as the culprit when theaters go under. Never mind that an owner hasn't bothered to sweep his auditorium in two months or that he's only open three days a week. It's always that damn digital that did him in!

Before y'all yell at me, I do get that the price of digital conversion is a grim reality for many good, skilled operators. But there are a million reasons theaters fail (lack of population, new competition, poor management, lack of owner interest). If it were only about digital, I'd think these theaters would at least hang in there while they can still get 35mm.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 17:16 #39177

  • lionheart
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JPRM, I never said that digital was the culprit that caused my theater to close. It was not. Other factors were involved. I know you weren't implying my floors weren't swept regularly or that I wasn't open enough, because these statements don't apply to me.

But, Slap started this thread because there is starting to be a large number of theaters closing, up for sale, or for lease. Why is this happening now? If a theater was able to stay open for years with dirty floors, strong competition, and only open for 3 days a week, doesn't it mean they were doing something right? At the very least, they were providing a product or experience that some customers wanted to purchase. So now, what has changed? Are so many theaters letting their floors get so much dirtier now? Is the competition in so many areas getting tougher just now? Are theaters cutting so many more showtimes just now?

No. The reason it is all happening now is digital. Some would close anyway, but not so many around the same time without a major cause like digital. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Until this issue can be dealt with successfully, a theater doesn't have a change to improve their image or management techniques.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 17:28 #39178

  • Bob Nash
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JPRM wrote:
I'm always a little surprised that on this site and in media, digital is always portrayed as the culprit when theaters go under. Never mind that an owner hasn't bothered to sweep his auditorium in two months or that he's only open three days a week. It's always that damn digital that did him in!

Before y'all yell at me, I do get that the price of digital conversion is a grim reality for many good, skilled operators. But there are a million reasons theaters fail (lack of population, new competition, poor management, lack of owner interest). If it were only about digital, I'd think these theaters would at least hang in there while they can still get 35mm.

Very well said. Many theatres that are blaming digital really haven't been genuine businesses for years.
Also, the theatre in Rufusjack's story [in another thread- "Digital Fundraising"] is charging well under the market for tickets and snack bar. Charging a fair price to our customer is one thing, selling ourselves short is another.
We all know of small town theatres, including single screen venues that have gone digital.
Visit the Box Office magazine back issue website and read about other shifts in our industry: sound, radio, TV, pay [toll] TV, HBO and home video. We have survived it all.
Bob
Last Edit: 13 Sep 2012 17:57 by Bob Nash.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 21:02 #39183

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www.amazon.com/Silent-Screens-Transforma...dscape/dp/0801863295 Here's a great book of a photographer who spent years photographing theatres that had been turned into office buildings, swimming pools, rifle ranges, parking garages, and more.
Michael Hurley
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 21:04 #39184

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Just because a theatre closes today does not mean it will not come back. This is a time of flux. Great change. VPF ends at the end of the month. More will be come clear. Patience.
Michael Hurley
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 21:12 #39185

  • JPRM
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Oh man, I don't mean to imply at all that lionheart - or anyone else on this forum - has done a poor job of running a theater. I tried to make it clear that there are many reasons a theater can lose business over time, and many have nothing to do with mismanagement.

But to respond to the point about theaters with dirty floors that are only open three days a week "doing something right" simply because they're not yet shuttered, I can't agree. If they're attracting a bare minimum number of Customers to stay open and poor management is largely to blame, they're doing far more things wrong than right. Sure, you can say "digital killed of the dreariest theater in town." But that's to ignore that, well, it was the dreariest theater in town.
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It's begun .. 13 Sep 2012 23:23 #39186

  • lionheart
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I did not say that the theater with dirty floors and open only 3 days a week was doing a good job, or that they were doing a lot of things right. I only said that they have been doing something right. It may have been the bare minimum necessary to keep the doors open. This is not a great thing. It's pretty sad, really. All I am saying is that without the industry change to digital they have been able to keep going. Now they cannot.

Some would say good riddence. Maybe they should close. I'm not defending anyone. I'm only saying that digital is certainly the straw that broke the camel's back (or maybe the truckload of straw that broke his back). I don't think anyone will deny this. It's just that some choose to focus on the straw, while others choose to focus on the weakness of the camel. He wouldn't have failed if he weren't such a weak camel, you might say.

I'm not suggesting bailouts for weak theaters. I'm not saying they deserve to be open. I'm just pinpointing the reason why so many theaters are and will be going out of business. But you are right. It's a package deal. It takes a weak camel and a truckload of straw to end up with a flattened camel. I'm just not willing to say it's only the camel's fault. And others are not willing to admit the load of straw is too heavy.

So, why am I still writing?
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