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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 04:12 #40652

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I'm already working on a plan that will let me go digital by the end of the year for only $25,000 up front. The response to the theatre has been nothing but positive especially regarding that fact there are certain types of films I will not play. Remember, this is the "Bible Belt". The low admission and concession prices have kept local people home and draw people from 35 miles away and a big boy multiplex. My soft drink supplier is Pepsi. My concessions wholesaler is Farner-Bachen. I make 41 cents on every $1.00 candy bar. I have no problem with the distributors regarding my admission prices. Why do you think I would? Who runs your theatre Andrew?
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 12:30 #40653

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revrobor wrote:
I'm already working on a plan that will let me go digital by the end of the year for only $25,000 up front. The response to the theatre has been nothing but positive especially regarding that fact there are certain types of films I will not play. Remember, this is the "Bible Belt". The low admission and concession prices have kept local people home and draw people from 35 miles away and a big boy multiplex. My soft drink supplier is Pepsi. My concessions wholesaler is Farner-Bachen. I make 41 cents on every $1.00 candy bar. I have no problem with the distributors regarding my admission prices. Why do you think I would? Who runs your theatre Andrew?

Does that $25,000 rely on getting significant donations from your community? (I will define significant as more than $10,000 in donations)

Disney will have a problem with your ticket prices if you want their movies on the break. At least that was my experience with my rep 7 years ago when we had a $4 child ticket and matinee prices. But maybe you can stay under the radar and not be noticed.

BTW, I have been pretty impressed with Andrew's theater so far.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 13:02 #40654

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I run my theater, Bob. My cinema is in South East Texas (semi-rural, 40 minutes from Houston). We are decidedly in the Bible Belt, and people still want to see many of the movies you are passing on. And you are going to have a hard time if you make less than 50% margin on your concession items. We have found a good sweet spot on candy of $2.50-$3.00 for the large boxes. Our cost on candy is between 89 cents and $1.41 and the Walgreens and Walmart in town sell the same sizes for only 25 cents less. We will shortly get our cost on candy down another 15% now that our distributor has seen our consistent volume and will be giving us an across the board 15% price break.


Thanks Rufus (Mike, right?), I've appreciated your straight talk as we went through this process. Can't believe I once thought Bob's advice on 35mm was wise. Glad we went 100% digital from day one.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 13:19 #40655

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Mr. Allen says:
"I have no problem with the distributors regarding my admission prices. Why do you think I would? "
As Rufus says, Disney will have a problem. I bet Sony and WB will also as they want their cut to be larger than what will come out of a $4/$2 admission price for first run.
I agree with Andrew: give your customers credit for wanting a variety of films. "The Bible Belt" mentality has shrunk thanks to the Internet and Social Media. I don't think certain parts of the country are so narrowly defined anymore.
Paramount might have some of the Republic Judy Canova films on 35 mm if that's the demo you are going after.
Bob
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 14:39 #40656

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I have played films from those companies you mention Bob and have had no problem with them. Back in '06 I was managing a .99 cent house and had no problem with any of the companies then. That theatre was a sub run.
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 14:43 #40657

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My digital plan has nothing to do with community members. Haven't you noticed the number of small town theatres that appeal to the community for going digital?
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 14:57 #40658

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Bob, do you have no overhead? Do you have to pay a lease and payroll? You are leaving SO MUCH money on the table, I just can't figure out how you are paying your bills. You're just a hair above letting people in for free and charging cost on concessions.

I'm in a small, rural, super conservative town probably not a lot different than yours, just slightly bigger. My customers who don't like R rated movies simply choose not to buy tickets to those.

By giving people responses like "no." when they ask if you're going to show a movie like Osage County, you're driving business away. A lot of people in your town wanted to see Osage County and Lone Survivor and they drove out of town to do it. You're forcing them to develop the habit of going out of town to see non-family fare. That's not good for you and it's not good for your local economy.

I wish, for your sake and the sake of your theater, that you'd listen to people who are succeeding CURRENTLY instead of trying to prove all of us whippersnappers wrong by showing us how it was done before 2006.
Last Edit: 18 Feb 2014 14:58 by BusyBee.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 17:19 #40659

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I feel a responsibility to the community not to continue the propagation of the filth that Hollywood has been pumping out the last few decades. If there are some that have a taste for that then they can go where the theatre operator puts his desire for making a fast buck above his responsibility to the community. I will make my money off providing wholesome entertainment for those in the community who prefer it. That is going to cause me more work in promoting rather than letting Hollywood do the promoting of whatever piece of junk is now available. There are enough companies making wholesome entertainment (including some of the majors) that I don't have to worry about product. It is my goal to make this theatre the communities theatre and I'm beginning to succeed. In talking to a bank teller this morning she said she heard one of my radio ads and turned to a friend and said "Hey, that's OUR theatre".
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 17:22 #40660

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Of course I have overhead and bills and they are being paid. We have a staff of three plus my wife, my son and myself who aren't being paid yet. But we have Social Security to carry us through until that time comes. We have been in operation only since December 12th. Stay tuned.
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 18:16 #40661

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revrobor wrote:
I feel a responsibility to the community not to continue the propagation of the filth that Hollywood has been pumping out the last few decades. If there are some that have a taste for that then they can go where the theatre operator puts his desire for making a fast buck above his responsibility to the community. I will make my money off providing wholesome entertainment for those in the community who prefer it. That is going to cause me more work in promoting rather than letting Hollywood do the promoting of whatever piece of junk is now available. There are enough companies making wholesome entertainment (including some of the majors) that I don't have to worry about product. It is my goal to make this theatre the communities theatre and I'm beginning to succeed. In talking to a bank teller this morning she said she heard one of my radio ads and turned to a friend and said "Hey, that's OUR theatre".

You aren't serving the community by being applying your sensibilities to everybody else. You have two screens, you can book a family flick and a grown up movie at the same time. We only have three of our four auditoriums running and always have a family movie, something for the teens/young adults, and something for the more mature audience. We leave it to our patrons to determine if the content of a particular movie is objectionable to them or not. We look at demographic information and book movies that we think cover as many quadrants as possible. Yeah, I'm probably not going to book Nymphomaniac, but I'm also fine to book a gritty war movie like Lone Survivor because Bible Belters are also typically big supporters of the military and appreciate movies that show the heroism of American soldiers. But you won't show it because its Rated-R and not properly wholesome and/or filth.

revrobor wrote:
We have a staff of three plus my wife, my son and myself who aren't being paid yet. But we have Social Security to carry us through until that time comes. We have been in operation only since December 12th.

So you opened December 12th, play movies people in your market don't want to see, and don't get paid.

I opened December 25th, play movies people in our market want to see when they want to see them, and I've been getting my regular paycheck right along with my staff since our first pay period.

hmmmm...
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 22:41 #40664

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Andrew Thomas wrote:
revrobor wrote:
I feel a responsibility to the community not to continue the propagation of the filth that Hollywood has been pumping out the last few decades. If there are some that have a taste for that then they can go where the theatre operator puts his desire for making a fast buck above his responsibility to the community. I will make my money off providing wholesome entertainment for those in the community who prefer it. That is going to cause me more work in promoting rather than letting Hollywood do the promoting of whatever piece of junk is now available. There are enough companies making wholesome entertainment (including some of the majors) that I don't have to worry about product. It is my goal to make this theatre the communities theatre and I'm beginning to succeed. In talking to a bank teller this morning she said she heard one of my radio ads and turned to a friend and said "Hey, that's OUR theatre".

You aren't serving the community by being applying your sensibilities to everybody else. You have two screens, you can book a family flick and a grown up movie at the same time. We only have three of our four auditoriums running and always have a family movie, something for the teens/young adults, and something for the more mature audience. We leave it to our patrons to determine if the content of a particular movie is objectionable to them or not. We look at demographic information and book movies that we think cover as many quadrants as possible. Yeah, I'm probably not going to book Nymphomaniac, but I'm also fine to book a gritty war movie like Lone Survivor because Bible Belters are also typically big supporters of the military and appreciate movies that show the heroism of American soldiers. But you won't show it because its Rated-R and not properly wholesome and/or filth.

revrobor wrote:
We have a staff of three plus my wife, my son and myself who aren't being paid yet. But we have Social Security to carry us through until that time comes. We have been in operation only since December 12th.

So you opened December 12th, play movies people in your market don't want to see, and don't get paid.

I opened December 25th, play movies people in our market want to see when they want to see them, and I've been getting my regular paycheck right along with my staff since our first pay period.

hmmmm...

You seem quite proud of the fact that you have made your quick buck but what have you done to improve the community?

There's nothing "mature" about running some of the garbage Hollywood is making. Those who produce and exhibit films containing foul language, sexual nudity and gory violence and call it "mature" are just kidding themselves in an attempt to justify throwing such garbage at the public while trying to convince us that that is the way everyone talks, lives and likes to be entertained.

And in whose opinion are the films I have been running something NO ONE wants to see?

I am not in this business to make money in the sense you are. I don't want to lose money either but as I said I have a plan that you wouldn't understand so why don't we just leave it at that.
Bob Allen
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 18 Feb 2014 23:30 #40665

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I appreciate that Bob is willing to run his theater the way he sees fit. While my business plan is different it is his money and time and vision. We are all independent cinema operators for a reason....to do it our way. I left Hoyt's Corporation 27 years ago to do it my way....my risk my reward. Again my business philosophy is different than Bob's but who am I to tell him it won't work. People told me when I went from one screen to two that I would lose twice the money....two screens to five that I had the wrong location...five to seven screens that I was crazy...that was in 1999. So Bob good luck and thank you for being the catalyst of spirited discussion as always.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 19 Feb 2014 00:01 #40666

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There are no quick bucks to be made, and I spent the better part of 2 years getting this place open. We make our money right now primarily playing family movies. But we play them on the break, when people want to see them.

Bob, Lone Survivor, 12 Years a Slave, and Saving Mr. Banks are all films I played that catered to mature audiences. I'd love to hear your reasons for why those movies are garbage and filth.

And I would love to know how you will afford rent, utilities, taxes, payroll, maintenance, and the conversion to digital when you charge so little for tickets AND concession and with such a small population to pull from.

But by all means, keeping booking Madea movies, or flops like Walter Mitty and Walking with Dinosaurs. I'll go a different route and feed my family while you live on the generosity of workers across America.
Last Edit: 19 Feb 2014 00:02 by Andrew Thomas.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 19 Feb 2014 00:32 #40667

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I’ve been reading this thread since its conception over the past several days and feel obliged to make a few comments.

It reminds me of an old saying that went something like this: “Nothing is right nor wrong, only thinking makes it so”. We must remember that every theatre, and in fact, every community is different. What is good for one, may not be good for another, or what is accepted in one may not be accepted in another.

We can not, or should not, judge our successes or failures to some one else. What we are unable to do in our location might do extremely well in another, and what we do very well, often can’t be duplicated elsewhere. It often comes down to trial and error. Over a period of time, we learn what does well in our community.

I agree that in most situations, opening on the break is very important to garner the highest gross for any given movie… but, that’s not the case everywhere. Not every theatre needs to open on the break, or even be first run. I play everything from 6 to 12 weeks off the break at a $3.00 ticket price and I still manage to out gross most of the first run screens in my area, and I out gross every sub run theatre in the state.

What is wrong with charging a low ticket price? It brings in more people. If you can produce a larger gross with a lower ticket price, everyone wins… exhibitor, distributor, and the consumer. Who cares what the ticket price is? The percentage is paid on the gross, not the ticket price. If you can produce a good gross on a low ticket price, the ticket price will often be overlooked. When I’m grossing five or six thousand dollars a week for one movie and paying 35%, I’m paying more film rental than theatres that gross $3,000 first run and paying 55%.

When most full price theatres gross $6,000 for the week, they haven’t even sold 1,000 tickets. In fact at the $8.00 average ticket price, that would only be 750 patrons. At my price I’ve sold 2,000 tickets. I’d much rather have 2,000 people buying at my concession stand then 750. On a big blockbuster family picture, I can gross from eight to twelve thousand dollars the first week. That’s as many as 4,000 people. That would represent a $32,000 gross for a first run theatre averaging $8.00 per ticket. I follow the figures on Rentrack, and there aren’t many theatres in my territory doing that kind of business.

In regards to concession, it is not necessary to charge absurdly high prices for concessions. Just like ticket sales, if you charge less for refreshments, people will buy more. I do think that Bobs concession prices are a bit lower than they need to be, but maybe he makes up the difference in volume. I don’t sell any concession items that cost over $3.25, and that’s my large pop corn bucket, and I can sell anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars worth of food and beverages a week during a blockbuster movie.

I don’t play many R rated movies. I think I played 5 or 6 last year. The reason is that they just don’t do well here. When I do, its films like Silver Linings Playbook, Identity Thief, and Olympus Has Fallen, none of which did well for me. I did play The Millers which did OK, and The Heat which was the only R rated movie to go over my average weekly gross. For some reason R rated films just don’t seem to do well in many small towns. Maybe people don’t want to be seen going to see them, so they will drive elsewhere to view them.

Someone mentioned that by not playing R rated movies that Bob was forcing his locals to go out of town, and that is probably true, but that doesn’t mean it’s hurting his business or the economy of his community. You must keep in mind that if his locals are willing to drive 25, 30 or even 50 miles to go see movies that he doesn’t play, there is no reason not to believe that the people from the far off larger community are willing to make the same drive out to his small town to take advantage of his family friendly theatre and it’s very affordable prices. Let’s face it… the far off city has a lot more people for him to draw from then they do to draw from his town. It will all come down to salesmanship and showmanship, as to who gets who.

I do agree with all of you that opening a theatre at this time without digital or without a definite plan to have such shortly is not a good idea. Bob says he has a plan and I’ll accept his word for that. I just hope he does it sooner rather than later.

The one thing that I always notice about most of you that post here regularly is that you seem to think that the movie is the only thing. It IS the most important thing, but not the ONLY thing. Yes indeed, without the movie there would be no one in your theatre. However, with the proper showmanship, you can entice a lot more people to come to the movies at your theatre. Going to the movies is a social experience that is made up of several different experiences. By giving your patrons a true theatre going experience rather than just a movie going experience, you can increase your attendance dramatically.

I think (hope) that this is what Bob has in mind. Only time will tell.
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February Movies-Vampires and Legos 19 Feb 2014 00:52 #40668

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I understand where you are coming from, Bob. But I think it is unfair to ask what someone like ME is doing for my community when I show FILTH on screen. I do a lot for my community. My husband and I both volunteer a lot and serve on various boards around town. We focus on how our theater affects our local economy. We want our theater to give people a reason to stay here on Saturday night instead of drive elsewhere to be entertained. We have a special screening every month where we donate the ticket proceeds to a different community group as a fundraiser. We donate tickets and/or money to basically any person who walks through the door for fundraising. We cast a wide net with the films we offer hoping to keep as many people happy as possible.

It is so grossly narrow-minded to think that any film with profanity and sexual content is trash. As a person who truly loves this business of film and cinema, this just hurts. Throughout the year there are so many incredible, thought-provoking, life changing films that are rated R. We feel like that by showing them we are starting conversations among people that encourage us all to be more thoughtful and engaged human beings. You wouldn't believe the conversations I had with people leaving Lone Survivor-- with a Korean War vet reliving memories and the family of a young man killed in war last year. And the conversations I had just this last week with old folks leaving Nebraska. Even after Anchorman, I had some strangely intense conversations about America, our politics, and the media. There are so many films that are chock full of profanity and sexual content but at the same time are deeply moving. I've cried with my customers in our lobby on their way out after they've watched a film that affected them to their core. And as we talk about the movie we learn so much more about each other and we become friends. This is what I do for my community. This is one of the many purposes my theater serves. Maybe the difference is that I don't consider movies just to be entertainment, I consider them to be experiences, and I'm able to give that to my community. I absolutely trust them to police themselves when it comes to their own morals.

We do book things from time to time that make me nervous. Most recent example is Wolf of Wall Street. But we inform our customers and do our best to help them make choices that are appropriate for THEM at the box office. We didn't have kids trying to sneak in for it; our wolf of wall street crowd was actually mostly older (elderlyish) intellectual types, and about 80% women. (dat Leo!)

What makes me feel bad about booking is when I have to book PG crap instead of a film with some depth because it will make me money. But then again, I love having a theater full of happy kids and parents who can't say no at the concessions stand. :)
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