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The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 15:32 #7671

  • bjork24
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My name is Dan Chilton, and my wife and I are seriously considering opening a small, single screen arthouse theater in a Missouri. Our town is having a cultural rebirth in its downtown district, so we thought that a small theater would fit in quite well. I do, however, have a few questions regarding "setting up shop."

For instance, would you suggest buying a 35MM projector or a digital projector? I realize that the film industry is currently on the cusp of technology b/w film and digital, but I don't know which purchase would benefit us more in the longrun. I realize that they're both VERY expensive.

So, I was curious to hear how others felt about this topic... digital vs. film. I know the costs will be far greater for digital (shipping, repairs, etc.), but I also realize that my selection will be greater if I stick with film.

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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 15:42 #7672

  • revrobor
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Almost all theatres are still film. The digital thing is just a lot of hype so far. Besides, you can't afford a digital projector for a regular theatre. (No one can afford them except perhaps the largest chain in the largest city.) I am considering one (a small machine) for a small screening room but it's only $4500.

There's a lot of excellent used 35mm equipment out there. I would encourage you to go that route.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 15:55 #7673

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Thanks for your reply Bob. Would a digital projector not even be feasible if the screening room were small? I've seen some between $7500 and $10000 that have a lot of lumens.

Also, would you recommend working with a booking agent to book films or just negotiate directly with the distributor (i.e. Swank)?
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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 16:44 #7674

  • Larry Thomas
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You don't need to go thru Swank unless you're non-theatrical, which is another set of problems (costs more, restricts your advertising, etc).

You want to be a theatrical operation.

And, yes, I would recommend a booker. I'm one; Charlie Bo on this site is one, there are bunches of others as well.
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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 16:46 #7675

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Larry,

Thanks for your advice. I just made another post in this forum that explains our business venture in a little more detail.

I was wondering, could you elucidate on the pros and cons of using a buyer? How do you decide on compensation?

Thanks again
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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 17:56 #7676

  • Large
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The business is still presentation of 35mm film. Digital Cinema is in it's infancy and there is very little product out there and zero product in the art world.

There is a vast differnce between a $4,000 data projector used to blow up your laptop image in a conference room and a $150,000 Digital Cinema projector used to throw proprietary 2K images on a 40' screen in a cinema. It's like asking your Super 8 film projector to fill in for a cinema, sure you'll get an image, but it's not the same.

Last thought: Single screen cinemas are a great hobby, multi screen cinemas are a business.
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Re: The newbie... 11 Mar 2004 18:10 #7677

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Thanks for your advice, Large.

Any advice on where one can buy a good, used 35MM projector?
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 01:17 #7678

  • Ken Layton
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Many theater equipment dealers (Yellow Pages under "Motion Picture Equipment & Supplies") also sell used equipment as well as brand new stuff. Scott Hicks' American Cinema Equipment (www.cinequip.com) in Portland, Oregon is an excellent dealer with tons of used equipment in several warehouses across the US.

Stick with film equipment and don't bother with the video stuff.

[This message has been edited by Ken Layton (edited March 12, 2004).]
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 04:03 #7679

  • CharlieBo
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As Larry suggested,you should have a film/booker/buyer as a "newbie".He(or she) can help you navigate the many twists and turns of this industry.He will save you SO MUCH time at a reasonable fee,and he will deal with all the intricacys of getting started.Just fielding calls from the distributors is more than worth his fee-you can use that time to promote your theatre.I would expect you would pay a booker about $50-75 a week per screen.Your time is worth more than that,and his experience will help a lot.There are many good film buyers out there,including Larry and myself.If you do this venture,I strongly suggest you get someone to represent you.Maybe after a couple of years,you might want to take it on yourself(like Mike).
Good luck
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 08:41 #7680

  • Mudbrother
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(*oops.. I see you answered my question in your following post.*)

Dan,

Are you planning on refurbishing/renovating an existing building or building from scratch? Each option certainly has its own set of benefits and hassles.

You can check out our renovation history at http://www.thelyric.com

Rance

[This message has been edited by Mudbrother (edited March 12, 2004).]
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 10:42 #7681

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Hi Dan/ I'm glad people are answering your questions but I must say: you should read all the old postings stuff first. You are asking questions that are as basic as abc in this business and they have been kindly and eloquently answered at length to others like yourself. The # 1 reason people take the time to write thse long answers to the most simple and basic questions is to record them once for posetrity so that 2-5-14 years later when someone like yourself comes along you will still be able to read the germane answers. It's easy to post a question. But it takes time to read the posts that have already answered your questions. Once you have read all, made notes, and have more in depth questions everyone is happy to help. And, bless them, they are even still happy to help all over again. So; our frien, my friend: please read.
Michael Hurley
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 10:43 #7682

  • Mike
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are signatures wiped out?

Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 10:44 #7683

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nope!

Michael Hurley
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Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 10:56 #7684

  • mumbog11
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probably a weekend without the "forums" has helped put alot of wind in your sails.

As a newbie... THANKS!
/mumbog11.
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Re: The newbie... 12 Mar 2004 11:00 #7685

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Well, thanks again for everyone's advice. I've also been contacted as many theater owner/operators as I can, and I seen a veritable tidal of advice and helpful hints come my way. Thank you for all your support and knowledge.
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