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TOPIC: Goodbye Weekday Matinees

Goodbye Weekday Matinees 12 Sep 2000 22:22 #19476

  • RoxyVaudeville
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I'm sure many people think that continuous weekday matinees have always been a part of movie theatre schedules. For the most part they have been. But whenever business gets im the dumps, the first thing to go are the weekday matinees. Putting large markets aside (the large cities that is) matinees have been somewhat of a luxury. During the depression, they disappeared from many small towns. Likewise during the fifties and early sixties when TV put the cabosh to just about everything...they again disappeared from both small towns and the nabs in the cities. Weekday matinees have not been a great source of income throughout the history of the movies except during pre depression times, and of course during World War II. In the late sixties and early seventies when almost all of the old downtown movie palaces vanished from the scene, the matinees vanished with them. They had depended greatly on the walkin trade that downtown locations provided. With the advent of shopping center, and suburban free standing theatres, that walkin trade didn't exist. Therefore during the seventies and well into the eighties in much of the nation matinees on weekdays was almost unheard of. Some theatres ran a Wednesday matinee, while a few ran one matinee show and then closed until reopening for the evening shows around 6:30.

However with the birth of the multiplex, some areas saw the return of weekday matinees. And with the rise of the megaplex in the nineties, continuous weekday matinees returned nationwide once again.

But I predict that you will see them all but disappear once again over the next several years. Why? With almost all of the major chains going into chapter 11, and attempting to reorganize, they will have to justify what policies can and will aid in their profitable rebirth. Those things that lose them great amounts of money will have to go. Matinees for the most part LOSE THEM ENORMOUS AMOUTS OF MONEY! You can go to almost any mega or multiplex on any weekday afternoon (during the school year) and find 25 people attending movies in a 16 plex. Twenty five total, not per screen, but in the whole place.

If good fiscal responsibility plays a part in the salvage of the national chains, then the matinees will have to go.
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Re: Goodbye Weekday Matinees 13 Sep 2000 09:59 #19477

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It's sad what we have to give up in the name of progress. You mentioned the advent of t.v. as one the resons for the demise of the weekday matinees. But lets not forget the video rental. I am a movie goer, like the big screen and the atomosphere. But many times I ask friends if they have seen a particular movie and they respond with "I'm waiting till it comes out on video." It's sad for them. But it can't be any good for the movie house owners.

They say that history repeats itself. Lets hope its true and we again see the return of the weekday matinees as will as the popularity the small town movie houses once had.
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Re: Goodbye Weekday Matinees 13 Sep 2000 15:53 #19478

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Our theatre the Rialto Cinemas Lakeside is in Santa Rosa a town of 150,000 people. When we opened, in January, we didn't have weekday matinees. We were still under construction during the week. Boy did we hear about it from the seniors. The bitched up a blue storm about how they like going to the movies during the day so they don't have to drive home during the night. While we were working in the theatre during the day, the people kept banging on the door and telling us that in their paper it said we were open during the day. We weren't and our ads were correct, but they read them wrong.

After a month we still weren't ready to open for weekday matinees but we did institute a Wednesday matinee for the seniors. This helped a little but they were still confused by the ads that changed daily. Why shouldn't Tuesday's ad be the same as Wednesday?

Well, when we got our act together we went to daily matinees. We run a 1,4,7,9 schedule. We almost always get out of the theatre by 11:00 pm. We never have a show earlier than 1:00 pm. This helped the bitching to subside. Now they just bitch about our ticket prices. $4.50 for Seniors 55 and up and Children 12 and under, $7:50 for all others. Our Matinee price is $4.50 for the first show of the day only.

Tuesday is bargain day where $4.50 gets you in all day. Yesterday, for show #1 we had 71 people, show #2 had 37 people show #3 (prime) had 107 and show #4 (late) had 64. I picked Tuesday because it takes out ticket price as motivation. We have half these numbers for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. As you can see we had the same amount of people for our afternoon shows as for our prime show. We can’t throw those people away.

We have four other theatre companies in the county. They all do matinees. If I were to drop daily matinees the other theatre companies could say "give the film to us, they don't run a complete schedule." Our lease also stipulates that we are open during the hours that are appropriate to our business. So if they do it, we do it.

If, all of a sudden, the other four theatre companies reduced their schedules, perhaps we might, but what would it be. I'll bet that they would just drop one matinee, so that the theatre opened later. I'll bet that the first show would be around 3:00 pm. That would help because then we could get the high school kids to work that show. In the middle of winter, (which isn't much in Northern California) it will still be dark when you leave the 3:00 pm show around 5:30 pm. So our seniors are still going to bitch. We could have one Matinee during the week but that might still lead to advertising confusion. Yes, there would be less confusion if we all did the same schedule.

Much as I would love to run the schedule that my boyhood cinema ran, daily 7 & 9 with matinees on Saturday and Sunday or incase of rain, I guess I am stuck with the rule of competition. Compete or die. Hell, I’d like to go back to a Road Show schedule, one show at 8:00 pm, 2:00 pm on Sat & Sun.

Now shut up so I can get back to my 156 channels of satellite TV! Oh boy! Here come the Olympics.

Your Truly
(Written during a slow matinee while avoiding doing any real work)
Ian Price
Film Slut
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Re: Goodbye Weekday Matinees 16 Sep 2000 09:43 #19479

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ROADSHOWS! Now there's an interesting topic.

I worked in a theatre during the mid to late sixties that had a roadshow policy. That was an interesting experience...one that I am glad to have had. Some of the films we roadshowed were "The Sound of Music", "Dr. Zhivago", "Romero and Juliet", "Doctor Dolittle", "2001 A Space Odessy" and "To Sir With Love".

How many people in the business today do you think even know what Roadshow was? I won't comment on it futher at this time as I would like to see what other people know or remember.
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Re: Goodbye Weekday Matinees 18 Sep 2000 23:39 #19480

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We stopped the matinee shows after Labor Day. But, you are right. Being in the downtown area, very few people would patronize a matinee show. But, our local multiplex on the outshirts also has the same problem. During the summer, we run shows from 12pm on, but even with new releases on friday, the headcount is too low to pay a staff and run the projectors. I'm a firm believer of "killing" the matinee's, but its not my theatre. I do not have a problem running a 3 or 4pm show at matinee prices during the week. But, leave the 12pm+ matinees for the weekends only.
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