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in desperate need of help 19 Jan 2002 18:52 #23120

Hello group many on Mike's site have been helpful and it has been a pleasure to be involved with you fellows,
I have a twin that is surrounded by about 50 screens within 3 miles. AMC, Regal, and an independent $1.75 bargain house. Our twin is bargain also but we have had success showing Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnite and do great with kid shows but we are dying.
I am trying to renegotiate the lease and might have some luck we have gone to Fri Sat Sun and have about 14,000 college kids within a 4-5 mile radius and I have thought retro or art type stuff but I NEED HELP ANY IDEAS HOWEVER OUT THERE WOULD BE OF HELP.

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Re: in desperate need of help 20 Jan 2002 13:38 #23121

  • BECKWITH1
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I am probably not very much help to you .I suspect that Avalon and Large could help the most with figuring out what to to with all those college kids. My suggestion is that you can always try something different and see whether it is successful. You don't need to change formats suddenly. You can try an art film or another type of film just to see how it does without changing your normal pricing or format. If you need to charge a higher price to bring in the art film than you are charging now. Just explain that in your ads and telephone message line. People are reasonably flexible. See if you can build interest out there slowly without destroying the base that you have now. Eventually you can tell whether you will be successful or not.

Also, make sure that your operation is doing everything it can to keep the customers you have happy. Projection, sound, cleanliness, service levels should all be constantly checked to see if any improvements can be made.
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Re: in desperate need of help 21 Jan 2002 11:10 #23122

  • GREGBORR
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We had a 14 plex build within 8 miles of our three screen, we changed our pricing to $6.00 including pop and popcorn for admission, made the pop and popcorn self serve (we pop the corn and place it in a warmer with sealed bags). We eliminated the need for one person on weeknights with the self serve stations and have managed to remain profitable. We also have marketed ourselves as a family oriented operation with local ownership that takes pride in what we do.

As for 14,000 college kids, if no one else is showing art films, I would definately give it a try, as stated before Avalon and Ian have art houses and should be able to help you out.

Greg Borr
Ready Theatre Systems
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Re: in desperate need of help 21 Jan 2002 20:38 #23123

  • Avalon
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Donaldshafer;
Before you make any changes, figure out what the surrounding demographics want. Art films are great if you have an audience or have the time or tenacity to cultivate one. I have a 100 seat single in a 50k pop. college town and I do pretty much all art house product. After 4 ½ years, I’m still here. But I cut my teeth on first runs and drive-ins so I’ve worked most venues.
Art house product takes awhile to catch on. Most people who are into it remove themselves from the cinema cycle if the only thing playing on the big screen is “Freddie Got Fingered.” They might take a spell to draw outta their shells. So, don’t expect fast changes by going to art product.
So let’s say you do a mass emailing, or direct mailing, or ad in the paper and ask people if there would be an interest in non-first run product. Let’s say many folks swear on a stack of Gideons that they will be there every week and if they can’t make it, they’ll send their money. Looks like a good way to go . . . but this is only the beginning!
--Shamelessly promote yourself. Get the paper to do a story about the change. Get the college paper to do a story. Get the high school paper to do a story.
--Find out if there are foreign language programs on campus that might be interested in Spanish, Asian, Russian films.
--Got a film program at the college? Well, suck up. Find out what films they might put on their syllabus if you can get them – then cut them a great deal if they come for the class.
--Every year I give several talks on being in small businesses to high school kids and do special showing for them as a class.
--Are their ethnic populations dying to be exploited (I did Hindi films the first year I was open)?
--Gay, Lesbian organizations can corral large numbers of people for films that are of interest (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “Jeffery”).
--Church groups (“God’s Army,” “Orgasmo”).
--Do something different with the building to indicate there has been a change: paint it, get the neon fixed.
--If you raise your prices, give them something for it: New sound, better seats, more shows.
--Get an art-house booker, a good art-house booker, for his value is greater than that of rubies. He or she can tell you how towns of your size and demographic respond to certain films.
--Be flexible. Jump on opportunities that might be outside what you’ve booked. If they are playing “Planet of the Apes,” try to get the original version. Did someone die? Get one of their films.
--Listen to what people say. Give them a way to say it. Have an email address that you answer regularly.
--Get a website that is informative and is a little off (www.avaloncinema.com) so they remember it.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. I’m sure most anyone here can add to this -- this isn't exculsivly and art-house problem. Best of luck and feel free to contact me privately if you wish. Paul
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: in desperate need of help 23 Jan 2002 20:19 #23124

  • Rialto
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DonaldShafer,

Avalon is absolutely on target. As an arthouse operator, I can tell you its probably the biggest chance you have to be creative in the movie industry. One of my favorite quotes about the art film business is from a Variety article about Niche Pix in the Stix...Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics is quoted as saying that arthouses succeed because of marketing. Mainstream theatre focus on marketing popcorn and soda while the arthouse's are out there selling the films. You have to get niche and get creative. Actually right now is a pretty good time to get into the arthouse business. There is a great deal of good product and getting people in the door to see good product is the key. If people come, have a good experience, see a great film, and see trailers for a couple of other interesting films that they never heard of, they are more likely to take a chance on the film than if they never saw the trailer. E-mail is a great way to develop a direct marketing approach at minimal cost. When the art market is a little weak, plug in a classic or two. We were hitting a dry spell with a big huge gaping hole in our schedule the day Alec Guiness died. We called our booker and asked if we could get a print of Bridge on the River Kwai. Sony had it, we got it, it turned out to be our best grossing movie that week. We started it on Friday in our small room but by the first show Saturday it was in the big house. Timing is everything. Film is a perishable commodity. Late shows can be fun to. Have you tried other classics besides Rocky Horror at midnight. What about Stop Making Sense, Matrix, The Shining, etc.

Both AMC and Regal can be artfilm friendly in markets where the films work with minimal effort, so a good booker is essential. But as a general rule of thumb an artfilm playing in a dedicated arthouse can gross 3x what it would playing alongside Dude Where's My Car at a megaplex because the artfilm audience generally only looks to the arthouse to see what is playing.

Some sites to visit to get a sense of what is going on in the art house market:
www.landmarktheatres.com (Landmark is the largest exhibitor of art films in the country) www.laemmle.com (LA area arthouse group) www.ritzfilmbill.com (Philly area) www.angelikafilmcenter.com
and my own www.rialtocinemas.com

Good luck!
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Re: in desperate need of help 23 Jan 2002 20:35 #23125

You guys are great and have given me some hope as well as some great ideas.
Keep them coming!!!
Thanks a ton.
Who should I get to print our calendars and how far ahead should I go?

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Re: in desperate need of help 23 Jan 2002 22:23 #23126

  • Avalon
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Rialito is correct about sharing the market with Regal -- I'm in a Regal town, county, and state. I'm very friendly with the managers from the multis and they see me as no threat at all and have actually helped out a couple times. There seems to be an element of relief that they can now send their art oriented customers to me rather than admit they have no intention of showing "The Devil's Backbone." So, you might find your current competition on your side!
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: in desperate need of help 24 Jan 2002 16:05 #23127

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We have found that the film market right now is too fluid to print a calender. We don't really know what is happening more than a week or two in to the future. Putting together a good email list is the best way to preach to the converted right now. As to the heathen, just print a newspaper ad and go for as much publicity as you can.

Even after two years, I am amazed by the shear quantity of people in this city who haven't heard of us, in spite of vast and brilliant marketing. But still our occupancy rate is 14% which is very healthy.
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