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TOPIC: Independent Start Up

Independent Start Up 16 May 2002 13:46 #23330

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I am researching the feasibility of opening a cafe-style movie theater. I'm trying to absorb as much info as I can about theater operations. Most of the film industry books I've found are directed toward producing, directing, and distributing films. I have found very little on "How to Successfully Run a Movie Theater." I am particularly interested in how films are booked and what a film rental agreement looks like.

Would the group suggest any particular resoures?

Thanks.
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Re: Independent Start Up 16 May 2002 21:39 #23331

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Lurk here. Lurk at Film Tech. Hang out at your local small theater. Ask specific questions. See if you can get RoxyV. to adopt you. Build a theater and hire a booker. Hire a good booker, because their value is greater than that of rubies. Lurking then asking specific questions when you don’t understand something will serve you well. People on this group are pretty good about it. Film Tech can get a little argumentative, but the info eventually comes through so wear you thick skin over there.
Paul Turner
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Re: Independent Start Up 17 May 2002 06:20 #23332

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Large...
Here it is again. Mike really needs a special forum for this.
lance
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Re: Independent Start Up 17 May 2002 09:02 #23333

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Large called me and I am honored to actually receive a voice com. He and I have established a deep friendship since the day I rescued him without hesitation from a deepest Florida highway swamp. Anyway he wanted to remind me that what we need is a button that says "Starting a movie theatre for the first time?" Start Here!!!!!! Okay.I'm working on it! Listen all ye new theatre owning types: the essential problem is that all of your most basic questions have been answered in great depth and detail at least 10 times. They are all here in our archives for your reading pleasure. But for those who have written them at length there is little pleasure in re-writing them so that's why you get the somewhat short treatment. The best thing to do is reset your Forums Viewer to SHOW ALL and then READ ALL!!!!! Then come on back! We were all brand new at some time. Welcome!

Michael Hurley
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Re: Independent Start Up 17 May 2002 10:32 #23334

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Thanks for the replies! After a little lurking I've found the "Exhibition 101" series on Delphi Forums. Mr. Peterson writes with humor and authority and I think his work will be most helpful.

As for bookers, when you hire one I take it you are hiring an independent contractor who is providing the same service to as many theaters as he can handle (please correct me if that's the wrong assumption). How do you locate a competent booker? What qualities are essential in such a person?

Thanks for spending time with a pup like me.
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Re: Independent Start Up 18 May 2002 03:37 #23335

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Rich Peterson's Exhib 101 series is helpful. Read Box Office and Film Journal magazines. The Independent Exhibitor profiles in both are always educational. Box office on-line and the magazine itself have a yearly buyer's guide that should list many bookers. Yes, you are correct, you are hiring an independent contractor. Some independent operators book thier own theatres, others using bookers. It depends upon your interest/skills etc. whether you do it yourself or hire a booker. Personally, in a competitive zone, I'd definitely use a booker.
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Re: Independent Start Up 18 May 2002 08:40 #23336

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Rialto,

Thanks for the advice. When (if) I do this I would most certainly hire a booker. I've found that the worst wounds are self-inflicted and I would probably get myself into some poor booking arrangements without the help of an experienced booker.
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Re: Independent Start Up 18 May 2002 13:45 #23337

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I am in a competitive zone. And my booker has been worth his weight in gold many times.
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Re: Independent Start Up 20 May 2002 09:13 #23338

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sevstar,

I guess what I'm trying to figure out about bookers is how they practice their craft. [What follows is a series of ignorant questions about bookers not intended to annoy any lurking bookers. I simply don't know.] Is it a matter of possessing good, personal contacts with the distributors and then shuttling messages between the exhibitor and the distributor until a deal is struck, or (as I suspect) is there more? Are bookers ever in positions where their loyalties are divided between the exhibitor and the distributor (serving two masters doesn't work)? How does the booking process compare with, say, the way a real estate agent works to put a buyer and seller together? Are there any trade associations or standards-setting groups which attempt to govern the process of booking?

Thanks again from the pup.
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Re: Independent Start Up 20 May 2002 11:05 #23339

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I have a contract with my booker and my booker works for me, not the distributors. Some bookers I am sure operate their own theatre's. And if you are in the same market with their operations, that might be a problem. For the most part if your in a competitive market. Your primary competition will be the large chains. The chains have their own in-house bookers. The real estate agent is a fair comparison, but in reverse. In this case your hiring the agent to represent you to sellers. Much of all this depends on the market your in. If it's not very competitive. Many suggest starting with a booker to get your theatre established with the distributors. Learn all you can, and then take on booking yourself. Getting a print many times is half the battle. And my booker knows of prints that are available, and most times swings a deal where I can get my hands on the print. I am not aware of any standards or trade associations directly involved with film bookers.
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Re: Independent Start Up 20 May 2002 11:48 #23340

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In regards to seekers booker quests: yes and no to all the above. Bookers are like the rest of us. I book my own theatre and said no to almost every Paramount pic for the last year for opening. Yet they're a great company and Ellen in NY is a great person who always does well for me so when it came to sum of All fears I felt like I actually owed her one and said yes. I might have done it anyway even if the buzz wasn't there. Your booker would be the same at some point. It is a personal relationship of the deepest kind. They remember kindness, favors, etc. and appreciate the same. My advice for a small operator. unless perhaps in a seriously competitive market is learn the ropes and then think about taking it over for yourself. It works for me.

And as a guy who thought he could book for others: I took on a new client (he comes in here and will probably chime in
) as a first to start booking for his 2 screen. OH MY GOD!!!! I now understand why bookers get paid the big bucks! They deserve every nickle. It is a real task to be in the middle of distribs and theatre owners and my hat is off to those who do it so gracefully.

And then there was Peter (now at Hoyt's) who was booking for us and when I told him I was going to start doing it my self... "Everyone's a F%^&king Booker!" SLAM!!!!!!

Michael Hurley
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Re: Independent Start Up 20 May 2002 13:18 #23341

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Mike & sevstar,

Thanks for the info! I must say I appreciate the courtesy of vets to help fledglings. In lurking here just under one week I can see (as I suspected) there is much to learn.

Thanks again.
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Re: Independent Start Up 21 May 2002 20:32 #23342

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What forum is Exhibition 101 by Rich Peterson in? I have looked all over Delphi forums and cannot find it. Heard about it many times, and always wanted to read it.
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Re: Independent Start Up 21 May 2002 22:35 #23343

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It's a section of the "MOTION PICTURE EXHIBITOR'S FORUM" on Delphi. It's under the heading of "Best of Smart Boards" as it used to be on the bulletin board run by Smart Devices (a theater sound equipment maker).



[This message has been edited by Ken Layton (edited May 21, 2002).]
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Re: Independent Start Up 24 Jun 2002 13:15 #23344

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Wow! Just caught this reply, thanks Ken!

Just to be sure. Is the correct URL for Delphi www.delphiforums.com or www.delphi.com ?

Thanks!
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