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TOPIC: Will this be successful?

Will this be successful? 11 Nov 2004 15:42 #9302

  • johnboy
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A question posed for all of those who are smarter than I:
Do you think this formula will succeed?
I am looking to open a one screen theater with a maximum seating capacity of about 60. The building is already constructed, and rumored to be Omaha's first movie theater, so construction costs would be very minimal. The closest competition is a single screen theater, about a mile away, that specializes in independent films. Other than that, there are several megaplexes about ten miles away. The population in the surrounding area is very mixed. If you go two blocks to the east it is filled with apartments and older run down homes. If you go two blocks to the west you find nothing but nice brick homes. There is a college about two miles away, but they don't have any dorms for students. The area of the theater includes 7 or 8 restaurants and/or bars within walking distance. The whole area is meant to feel like a small town in a somewhat big city. I want to open this theater and run first-run shows and have a bar open for cocktails before, during, and after the film.
My major concern is the seating capacity of only 60. But, I think if people have cocktails available to them they will drink and that extra money will make up for the small seating capacity.
I have a marketing emphasis on my college degree so marketing the place is not going to be a problem. I have quite an aggressive plan already in the works.
This is the first theater that I've ever considered opening, hell, the first business that I've ever opened. So, this is why I seek the information of those smarter than I, and I return to my original question, do you think this formula will succeed?
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Re: Will this be successful? 12 Nov 2004 12:25 #9303

  • Mike
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60 seats is very low. A sell out will only get you so much. Private bookings in off hours would be essential. Seems way too small. More screens is always better.

Michael Hurley
Impresario
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: Will this be successful? 12 Nov 2004 16:34 #9304

  • revrobor
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If you have multiplexes with stadium seating within easy driving distance you won't make it as a general release first run house (even if the distribs let you have first run). You should concentrate on speciality product (foreign, classic, etc.) and promoted it through art and film societies and senior and student groups.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
"Back In The Saddle Again"
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Will this be successful? 13 Nov 2004 11:29 #9305

  • BECKWITH1
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I beg to disagree with Revrobor that the stadium multiplexes automatically make a first run venue that is not stadium seated a failed business attempt. That is certainly not true as I have the experience running both a single screen (non stadium) and a 4 screen (non stadium) against all the stadium megaplexes in a suburban area to prove it. The little guy can succeed in an older theater with access to first run product. However, it is very difficult to succeed in a single screen since you must run film on the studios terms which generally mean a 4 week committment. You can then turnover about 12 films per year. Unfortunately, they never release the films that you want at exactly 4 week intervals and the choices are very difficult. Also, most single screen venues survive on the family trade which is more price conscious. When they come, they will come in droves and 60 seats isn't enough.

You mentioned that you would like to serve cocktails - that eliminates that family crowd that I just covered. So, you must want to attract adults and more specifically the high brow adults who are more likely to attend independent/art films. Too bad there is already an independent theater within a short distance. You won't have the art film market to yourself and will have more difficulty booking films against the established venue for the area. We are assuming that you know what you are getting into with the liquor license of course.

Next possibility - subrun - which also depends upon the family trade to stay open. Cocktails won't help you there. 60 seats is also too small for the kids film that has substantial life and will be important in paying the bills. The advantage of subrun is that they will let you have more than 1 film at a time and you won't be tied down with contracts longer than 1-2 weeks allowing you the ability to have a wider variety of film. Obviously you will be charging less for admission and making less money per person.

As you can see, the choices are not great. I wonder if the financial investment would generate the return needed to pay the financing costs. If the initial investment was extremely small and you didn't mind losing your investment you could always take a chance but you would need substantial cash on hand to carry you through the initial slow periods while you built up a following.
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Re: Will this be successful? 13 Nov 2004 12:37 #9306

  • Large
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Ok, so we have eliminated First Run, Art & Subrun. Let me just toss this in to the ring and let you kick it around.

Non-Profit film society.

If the costs are indeed low to get in and open the theatre, then you can try this.

First you must form the society and get members and the money to run the society. Then you can run film, I would recommend Art Film just under what the Art Film theatre runs and retrospectives and you can lean slightly more foreign than they do. Also you can run a family matinee where no liquor is served. You wouldn't be constrained by the usual booking rules or the absolute necessity to turn a profit. But you would have to service the membership, hold meetings and acquiesce to the member’s demands.

In this scenario you wouldn't have to open every night, wouldn't have to be open Christmas, New Years or Thanksgiving and could take the slow seasons off. (Like the first 2-weeks of December.)

You could have volunteers for staff as long as you could offer them other kinds of compensation like free movies, courtesy passes to other theatres and the like.

The manager (Presumably you) could take a token salary and a percentage of the box office.
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Re: Will this be successful? 14 Nov 2004 14:51 #9307

  • MovieGuy
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Good luck getting First Run product. 60 seats.....hardly worth the effort.
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