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TOPIC: Toe to toe

Toe to toe 19 Jul 2000 10:16 #561

  • Mike
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Our nearest competitor is about 30 miles away so there's no problem on getting pictures as we barely compete. But there's rumor of a new theatre coming to town where we would be directly competitive. How do the rest of you handle it when you're looking for a print and your competitor won't let it go, wants it also, or is plain trying to squeeze you out? I have heard about "allocation" where you are offered films in rotation with your competitor.i.e. one from Disney for them/the next one to you. Ugh. Does that work? Tell me about getting along with your competitors.

Mike Hurley
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Re: Toe to toe 20 Jul 2000 01:30 #562

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My nearest competitor is about 23 miles away. We are both older, single screen theatres and usually are both only open on the weekends. Small towns-3,200 each. We vie for the same movies all the time and both do our own booking. Unfortunately, we show the same films once in awhile. I hate it when that happens. I hate it when they get the movie first more though. Anyway, we don't even talk anymore, since they sent me "Gladiator" missing about 150' on the head of the first reel and the next 50' had sprocket damage and they didn't say a word about it! That's just plain wrong. Hopefully they had to pay bigtime; and fortunately I was able to get a new print for my run.
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Re: Toe to toe 20 Jul 2000 21:26 #563

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Mike,

Allocation is an interesting animal. It's sort of a way of creating equality without really creating equality. The best way I can explain it is through an example.

In our zone there are 30 screens - a 14 plex, a six plex and 2 five plexes. One of the 5 plexes is mine. The other 5 and the 6 are operated by a long established major chain. The 14 plex is brand new built by a long established local exhibitor (who used to run my 5 plex) - its state of the art everything. Supposedly this is an allocation market, but I run an arthouse so I don't want most of the studio product - I do however want and feel that I'm entitled to all the art product. However, both of my competitiors - the major chain and the 14 plex are interested in art product the 14 as filler and the major chain as a way to survive. So lets take a distributor and I'll show you how the allocation was done this summer. From Miramax we got East is East and Hamlet, the major chain got Boys and Girls, the 14 plex got Scarry Movie. Not bad from my point of view - we got 10 weeks out of East is East. The next group of films is Love's Labours, Butterfly, About Adam (I think that's the title) and the next Highlander movies. According to my bookers, Miramax is very high on Higlander and wants it at the 14 plex. So, I had to choose between Love's Labours, Butterfly and About Adam which title I didn't want. It was a hard decision to make as I really wanted all three. The one I didn't want is going to the major chain. The point to this story is that allocation does not mean equality. Either you or your booker has to get in there and sell the distrib on why your theatre should get films X and Y and give Z to the other guy. You also have to prove that you can gross and there are ways to get the attention of the distribs in this regard if you are in or proximate to a major market. Sometimes I don't like the immediate results of allocation but I and my bookers have to take a long term view. Get the films where you know you are going to have wholes in your schedule. Give up the dogs and market the heck out of everything you get. If you know you aren't getting it, pull the trailers, posters etc. Don't do any work for the other guy. Remember the distributors hold all the cards - ultimately its their decision where to put their product - so you have to sell your theatre and your ability to deliver an audience and a gross.

Hope this helps. I can't say it works like this in every market or situation but that is our recent experience with allocation. Good luck.
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Re: Toe to toe 21 Jul 2000 12:29 #564

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Down the road 25 miles they built a 7 screen against an established 2 screen. They went into allocation of the you pick one or thge other. The two screen had the choice of Titanic or some other danged thing from Paramount. They picked the never to be recalled film. They didn't care for water movies. It is a real crap shoot.

Re: Rialto's previous. Very helpful. Thanks for the words. It's hopeful. I guess what I'm looking for is to not be squeezed out on every good picture. In art films the days of the plex never picking them up are long gone. They now clearly recognize The English Patient, Shake in luv, etc. as potent box draws and they want what draws. Do you lose one best grosser and then get the next one... sort of because they owe you? It would seem very unfair for Miramax or any distrib to give the cream grossers to your competition.



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Re: Toe to toe 21 Jul 2000 20:38 #565

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Mike,

I understand what you say, but it really is a crap shoot. For instance we really wanted Up At the Villa from USA and got it even though they could of opened it at the new sexy 14 plex. We knew the film hadn't really performed that well but we felt good about it. Bottom line, its just about to become our best grossing film of the past six months - even though in the industry its viewed as a non-performer. You know your local market and your audience better than anyone else. Fight for what you believe is the best film for you. Not every art picture that works nationally works in every market. And some that fail nationally work in certain markets. It's a quirky business.
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Re: Toe to toe 22 Jul 2000 18:19 #566

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"It's a quirky business." And how. But I have to say that only 5 years ago when we jumped into this movie world stone cold; the information available has changed completely thanks to the www. I've been in a lot of other business 's/industries. Construction/restaurant/manufacturing for hardware industry/retail/ service.... and now the movies and nothing....... NOTHING... is as arcane and undocumented as the movie biz. Perhaps being a diamond dealer in NYC's diamond district would compare but the unknowables and the intangibles so thoroughly rule our world.

And then every Friday? Best of all!!! You get to start all over again! Re-birth! Renewal! Shuck off that promised blockbuster, send that barking dog back to its' studio dog house, and pull out the new frock, the latest big thing, the picture that will make our summer roar! It's beautiful!!!!!!!!
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Re: Toe to toe 23 Jul 2000 19:21 #567

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It's true - you gotta love Friday's. Here's hoping next Friday is a good one!
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