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TOPIC: How much and for how long can I lease a film?

How much and for how long can I lease a film? 27 Aug 2013 23:31 #40260

  • Jon_W
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Hi,
I'm doing research for a book and have a character who runs a small, single-screen theatre, but I need to establish the plausibility of whether or not he'd actually be able to afford to do so.

The character isn't bound by the technological pressures to move to digital, just that he wants to show pure 35mm film only - maintain the romanticised nostalgia of going to the theatre.

I guess what I'm after is how much (ballpark figure) does it cost to lease older films, for how long can one lease films - 3 months, 6 months, a year? Is there ever an option to buy the film and own it permanently? What kind of projector is required, at what cost? And despite studios moving to a purely digital format for new films, older films will still forever be available on 35mm assuming someone has a projector to play them, correct?

I have a general idea about new release films whereby a deal is negotiated between the theatre and the studio as to what percent of ticket sales and for how long the two parties split.

Examples of films I'm referring to: True Romance, Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, The Usual Suspects, Good Will Hunting, Fight Club, etc. Anything pre-1999.

Any rough advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jon
Last Edit: 27 Aug 2013 23:32 by Jon_W.
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How much and for how long can I lease a film? 28 Aug 2013 14:04 #40261

  • Larry Thomas
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Prices vary by film company, but generally, if there's a 35mm print, you can expect to pay $250 vs. 35% of the box office gross for up to a week. Although some distribs charge more if you exceed 3 days. You can never buy a print to keep forever, unless you find a black market dealer, in which case you expose yourself to charges of film piracy.

And no, you can't assume that 35mm will be available forever. Many remastered older titles are already being done only on digital for regular distribution. The only venues that will have access to 35mm, eventually, will be the studio archives, and film preservation departments (UCLA, Library of Congress). Also, while there are some 35mm prints around, many will not rent to a theatre that is automated. You would have to use two 35mm projectors doing reel changes every 20 minutes.

I just ran across an absurd situation re: digital. At Warner Bros., you can get SNAKES ON A PLANE on digital, but you can't get STRANGERS ON A TRAIN on digital. One of my accounts plays a Summer Classics series. The first ten years we did it all 35mm. They converted to digital this spring, and eliminated the 35mm projectors. With a couple of exceptions, I was able to program the series this year with the titles we could never get on 35mm. And the audiences have noticed, and appreciate, the digital upgrade.

Hope this info is of use to you. Good luck with your book.

Larry Thomas
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How much and for how long can I lease a film? 29 Aug 2013 01:32 #40264

  • Jon_W
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Thanks Larry.

$250 a week doesn't seem that expensive though (forgive me if I'm lacking the appreciation of a real world scenario).

So aside from the good/bad controversial argument about the forced move to digital sweeping the industry, how much (again please forgive the "ballpark" figure) would it cost to lease a non-new release on digital?

Also, if I may just fire away:

How much does a two-reel 35mm projector cost?
How much does a digital projector cost?
If monetary return wasn't an issue, would it be feasible to lease say, Fight Club for 6 months (in either format)?

Thanks in advance. Tremendous help.

Jonathan
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How much and for how long can I lease a film? 29 Aug 2013 11:30 #40265

  • rufusjack
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Due to their obsolescence film handling equipment is pretty much free. Many Theatres just took their equipment to the scrap yard. Others just gave it away if someone came and hauled it away. You should assume a few hundred dollars for a tech to go over the equipment. But ........

What year is your story set in?
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How much and for how long can I lease a film? 03 Sep 2013 12:45 #40272

  • Mike
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back in the long long ago a theatre in Cambridge The Central Square Cinema ran The King of Hearts for five straight years. During that time it was a near right of passage for area college students. Today .... they might let you keep a print of some rather obscure 35 mm film but it would deteriorate and you'd need another in no time. But if you were digital you could keep it until the film company went bust (always a chance) and it would look perfect. Your character must realistically face that someday soon they will stop making 35 mm films. Your character's love of 35 mm film will no doubt be subsidized by his trust fund, day job, passion for burglary or situation.... such as located between MIT and Harvard. Or he maty as an old theatre friend once said when asked... "What is the single best way to run a successful movie theatre?".... after a long pause he said in a voice that was affected by his physical experience with life..." Have your father leave you the building and a substantial amount of cash income when he dies and then have a terrible car crash and receive a large settlement from the other driver." He then ran exactly the theatre you describe.
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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