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TOPIC: Looking For Advice

Re: Looking For Advice 12 Sep 2011 17:30 #36949

  • techman707
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If it's a "real" Mainstreet Revitilization, you should have a REAL theatre. A revitilized main street without a theatre is like a town with no CENTER. A theatre brings other business' that breathe life into the city or town. :)

P.S A flat floor makes for a terrible theatre. :blink:
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Re: Looking For Advice 12 Sep 2011 20:11 #36951

techman707,

It is what it is. We're not going in and tearing the floor out to make it sloped. If our intentions were to make it a full time movie theater, we would have made the floor sloped, but it wasn't and still isn't.

There is currently an empty movie theater in our downtown waiting for someone like you to come and buy it and open it up for business. No doubt, it would be wonderful to have a full fledged movie theater here. Unfortunately, the owners decided our community could drive 25 miles one way to their other theater.

We are a non-profit and don't want to compete with a for profit theater. Our goal is to not discourage the opening of the currently closed for-profit theater.

As you all say, it's a great market and community size for a theater. We sure encourage someone to do it.

Our organization's efforts and mission is not to get involved in operating a full time movie theater. We have commitments with this facility for multi-use and plan to continue that.

I do appreciate your thoughts and input.
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Re: Looking For Advice 12 Sep 2011 21:34 #36953

  • JPRM
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Hometown! I would LOVE to run your theater for you, but we probably don't live in the same area. That said, in my little master plan for theater ownership, I have a manager lined up because it will give me the luxury of learning on the job. Where are you located, anyway? Please feel free to send me a private message if you want. I think I'd be a better tenant than manager, really, though finding a tenant/limited partner who's a great fit could really be a good thing for what you want to do.

As for the flat floor, I agree that it's not common, but I don't see it as a killer. I can think of a couple of (rather nontraditional) movie theaters where I live that have flat floors. They're a bit different, but not the least bit uncomfortable. They do good business, so people accept them.

And what's this other theater? Is it equipped and ready to go?

I really am enjoying hearing about your theater, and no matter how you program it, I hope it succeeds. The concern you're hearing, I think, is from theater operators who have experience and a great sense for what does and doesn't work in making properties such as this viable.

Again, I mean ALL of this in a nice way, but when you get into booking, say, a nonprofit theater group to present a play, I think it's important to remember that the prefix "non" is in front of the word "profit" for a reason. No matter how good the group is, there's probably not enough public interest to keep it going full time. So you have the challenge of always having to book something to draw folks to the theater. My sense is that that would be very difficult in a town of 17,000. (I grew up in a town of a similar size.)
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Re: Looking For Advice 12 Sep 2011 21:50 #36954

  • revrobor
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Hometown: If the theatre had a flat floor when your group bought it there is probably a sloped floor underneath it. If it's not too late I'd rip up the flat floor and use the sloped.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Last Edit: 12 Sep 2011 21:51 by revrobor.
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 00:19 #36955

  • rufusjack
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JPRM wrote:
No matter how good the group is, there's probably not enough public interest to keep it going full time. So you have the challenge of always having to book something to draw folks to the theater. My sense is that that would be very difficult in a town of 17,000. (I grew up in a town of a similar size.)

Just for clarification, I see many towns of 17,000 people have really good 3-6 screen theaters. On smaller chain B&B has quite a few such locations. Of course if you read these forums, you will see many people who do not want to run anything smaller than 3 screens.

What kind of shape is that closed theater in? My guess that it is in rough shape if the owner keeps it closed. Care to mention the name of the town?
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 00:39 #36956

  • JPRM
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Yeah, rufusjack - I was referring to how hard it would be to keep people coming back for plays and community concerts. A town of 17,000 seems like it could easily support a few screens.
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 00:54 #36957

I don't mind sharing the name of our community at all. It's Portales, NM.

Nice community with a growing population, a good economic base, strong agcriculture industry, a University and an Air Force base. A large young population.

I don't know if it would be good manners to name the owners of the closed theater. I can tell you that they own a chain of theaters. They also own one in the community up about 25 miles from us. I believe the reason they closed their doors is because they didn't want to invest in upgrades and hire good help to manage it properly. I'm sure the owners figured the Portales folks would drive the 25 miles up for their nicer theater.

We would love to have someone like you have interest in starting a movie theater in our community. How can we help get you here?

Check out the our organization's website.

www.portalesmainstreet.com/

Thanks
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 02:31 #36958

  • lionheart
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If a chain closed a movie theater and left the population to commute 25 miles to another one of their locations, they may not be interested in allowing anyone else to operate the closed theater. Sometimes, there may even be deed restrictions forbidding the use of the property as a movie theater again... assuming they owned the place and want to sell it. It wouldn't hurt to check on it and see. Portales sounds like a good market. If the current owners of the old closed theater do not want to cooperate, then some screenings at your multi-use theater may go over well.
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 02:47 #36959

  • lionheart
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A few quick searches and I see the closed theater in Portales is the Tower Twin. Reviews of the theater on Yahoo local paint a picture of a dirty place with poor customer service and maintenance issues. Apparently, it closed when the A/C broke. Allen Theaters, the chain that owned it, said the cost to repair the A/C was about half the value of the building, and such an expense wasn't justified by the amount of business they could do there.

Here is a link with the story of it's closing, including photos:

www.cnjonline.com/news/closing-34196-theater-tower.html
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 04:08 #36960

  • lewistheatre
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I just read through all the posts. I have co-owned a 1939 downtown single screen movie theatre for 4 years. The owners partnered with a non profit arts group to be the company in residence. We added stadium seating, a DVD projector, stage and lighting three years ago. During the summer and the busy Thanksgiving thru New YEars, we show first runs, 7 days a week, AS REQUIRED by the producers. The rest of the year we mix second run with one night art/foreign/documentary. The arts company produces live shows of original dance and movement theatre, talent nights, and a (mostly daytime) series of classes and workshops, utilizing the stage. Did I mention, the town, a county seat, is in rural WV with a population of about 3500, and a duplex 3 miles away? The biggest surprise we have in scheduling is short notice for getting confirmation of what film will arrive to open Friday and how much control the studios have with scheduling. If you do go 35mm, check first about getting delivery, someone on hand to build the films, add trailers, and break it down after just 3 or 4 days (total for us about 2.5 hours labor). Unless an old film is in public domain, figure at least $250 for rights. We show DVDs on a fine Panasonic projector, about $7000. The theatre came with a very old and reliable 35mm projector with platter system. Some use two projectors instead. You will need to have someone to learn and nurture an old projector, but it will last far longer than digital. As to the future of 35mm, thats another discussion page. The non profit staff or board needs to be looking hard for grants. Also, there is money to be made in selling alcohol with the dinners.
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Re: Looking For Advice 13 Sep 2011 12:16 #36965

lewistheatre and All,

Congratulations on what you are doing and what you're accomplishing. What you describe is very similar to what we are wanting to do. Of course, as you know, it takes a committed staff, hard work and operating funds.

We believe we have the building to do what you are doing. We now need to gather the pieces together, the right equipment, staff, marketing and promotion to make it work.

We've studied the different formats, digital cinema, 35mm, and lower end but good quality projectors. We're also studying costs of film types and rentals.

I'm glad you all are looking at our situation in our community. When our movie theater closed a couple of years ago by the chain mentioned above, the community was heart broken. We feel that a for-profit movie theater will work in our community. It just has to the right person that cares about the business and is willing to make it work. As you can tell by the article about why ours closed, it's obvious that the owners didn't want to spend any money on the building and knew our folks would drive up the road to their other theater. No real loss to them.

I encourage any of you to consider our community for a for-profit. I can get our economic development folks to provide any information you may need.
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