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TOPIC: 1 down & 3 to go

1 down & 3 to go 04 Apr 2004 23:54 #24366

  • RoxyVaudeville
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It's hard to believe that the first quarter of 2004 is already over. From everything I hear and read the industry is behind last year (The Passion aside), and of course last year was down from the year before. The product thus far this year has been soft, and being subrun my next quarter will have to have that product on screen...doesn't look promising. However, my 1st quarter has been very good. Last year was the best year I ever had in the box office, and that's over a 34 year run. It surged so far ahead of previous years, I considered it a fluke. I would have been very happy to just maintain the 2002 figures, and figured I would never hit the 2003 figure ever again. BUT, at the end of the first quarter, I'm ahead of last year. My box office gross is up 17% over the same period last year, concession is up 5.5%, and admissions are up 6.3%. The reason for the higher percentage increase in the box office category is due to a 50 cents ticket price increase over the same time last year. Can this possibly hold... I doubt it.

What do you find happening in your locations?
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Re: 1 down & 3 to go 05 Apr 2004 04:57 #24367

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HELLO ROXY <> Nationally, the 1st quarter would have been in the toilet, if not for Passion... Your good 1st quarter is a pleasant surprize, but there were a few pictures from late '03 that had longer legs than it appeared when they opened... I noticed you didn't play "Gotta Give" til after the video window had already opened (I believe): do you think THAT hurt your playdate?... I suspect you're going to be in for a long dry spell when you have to play the 1st quarter '04 stuff, 'cause it was all BLAH... The first few weeks of early Spring are always soft anyway, and that stuff won't help the problem... Good luck!...
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Re: 1 down & 3 to go 05 Apr 2004 23:29 #24368

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Outaframe... I played "Gotta Give" on the weeks of 2/20 & 2/27. It didn't go to video until 3/30. It did very well!

However, I did play "Mona Lisa" on 3/19 and it had come out on video on 3/9. The same weekend I had "Cat in the Hat' for matinees and it had come out on vid on 3/16. I played them both as fillers as I had two live concerts that week and a travel film as well.
My nut was covered by the other shows, so I figured that whatever Mona and Cat did was the gravy. They both did fairly well. Surprised me! I'm now playing my 2nd week of "Cheaper by the Dozen" and of course it comes out on vid today. It also has done very well.

The problem that I have been having, and a problem that all single screen subruns face, is that when we get a spell of good product and many pictures justify a 2nd week or more, we get backlogged with product, and by time we get to play them off, some of them have come to the video release date. That wasn't nearly as much of a problem when the video release was at least 6 months, but now with many films being released to video in 3 to 4 months it is indeed a problem.

Warners who doesn't have a moveover or intermediate run, only a national subrun, often makes their films available two weeks before vid, and if you're booked up with other product it becomes impossible to play their shows before video. I don't play many Warner pictures due to that fact.

I'll be playing LOTR,ROTK as of this Friday, as it has just been made available subrun in this area. The following week I'll play Master & Commander which was bumped twice before by holdovers, and of course it will have it's video release the TUESDAY during the week that I will be playing it.

That doesn't seem to be that bad though. Often, a film has been somewhat forgotten about by the time it gets to subrun, but when the video release nears, the TV advertising starts up again for the vid release and people are reaquainted with the film. They see that it's still playing somewhere on the giant screen with stereo surround sound... so why make two trips to the video store to watch it on the tiny screen all by yourselves, when you can get the theatre experience for practically the same price.

Time will tell how that all works out, but for me at least thus far, it doesn't seem to matter a great deal.

After all, my customers come for the old time theatrical experience... the uniformed doorman, the manager in a tux, the cartoon, the organ before the show, the excitement of the large pulsating marquee, the slow dimming and color changing of the lights as the show begins while the stage curtain parts for the preshow and then closes and reopens for the feature. Yes, this is what brings them in.... well SOME of them. And maybe those "SOME" just happen to make the difference between breaking even and making a profit. Therefore, it's worth all that extra showmanship. If for no other reason, it's all those extra things that continue to get us lots of publicity. Last month our large metro daily newspaper did a story entitled "Raving About the Roxy" that featured all the little extras that we do as part of our daily routine. Two photos, one in color. You can't buy that kind of press.

Last Saturday night a fellow came out before the show began and said to me "That's worth the price of admission". I said: What is? and he said "the organist... I could care less about the movie, the organ prologue is well worth it". I know there are folks that come due to the extras, because quite regularly I get phone calls that ask what time does the show start without asking what's playing. I'm always afraid that they might be expecting the previous weeks program, so I'll say: Do you know what's playing?, only to get the reply... it doesn't matter, we come for the theatre.

The bottom line is, you can never do too much to attract patrons... you can only do too little.
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Re: 1 down & 3 to go 06 Apr 2004 01:59 #24369

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Thanks, ROXY <> OK, it WAS Mona Lisa, instead of Gotta Give: sorry, but I did remember that you played something very decent, even after the window opened... It's a COMFORT to know that there is still some life, even AFTER the window!... The 3 month window is getting so common that when things happen like what you mentioned, we're going to get nailed once in a while... I have been lucky, but it's only a matter of time... You DO indeed offer a lot of bang for the buck!... I would STILL rather have a GOOD picture late, than most of this crap on the break... Still, the 1st quarter '04 lineup is a mighty sad lot!... Guess early Spring is a good spot to grind it through and look foreward to better days...
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Re: 1 down & 3 to go 08 Apr 2004 01:39 #24370

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In regards to the dry spell that possibly lies ahead for us subruns, I would like to suggest that it (hopefully) may not be as bad as it would look on the surface. When you look at the product that has been released since the 1st of the year, it indeed hasn't for the most part set the world on fire.

The fact of the matter is that a single screen subrun theatre doesn't need a great deal of that product. There are only 52 weeks in a year, and with holdovers I actually only need about 45 pictures a year to fill my main time slot. Add to that the fact that I run 6 or 8 Sat-Sun matinee programs that aren't scheduled for any other showtimes, and that maybe five weeks out of a year I run a different late show then my regular feature. The bottom line is I use approximately 57 films a year out of... how many released? According to MPAA sources there are between 200 and 250 movies made per year by their member companies, and between 400 and 500 by all US producing companies. Then there is foreign product as well.

Therefore, when we have a period of poor performing films in the first runs and it seems that there is nothing doing any business, maybe only 10% of them are doing well. While that 10% means rough times for the first runs, it doesn't necessarily mean horrible times for subruns. A single screen subrun can pick and choose the better performing product. We only need, or can use, about 15% of the films released each year. Now admittedly, even 15% doesn't keep a winner on our screens all the time, but it puts us in a better position then many large first run megaplexes.

Another factor of course is what type of product is doing business. If the 10% that is showing some life is the type of product that generally draws well in a given subrun theatre, that theatre will do well regardless of the industrywide slump. However, if the little product that is doing well, is not that which would do well in that house, then business will dry up there as well.

I still have enough decent product, most of the Academy Award Films, to draw sufficient crowds through mid June. I have such titles as LOTR,ROTK (this Fri.), Master & Commander (next week), Mystic River, Miracle, Cold Mountain, and Along Came Polly that will take me to May 1st. I'll start getting the early summer releases by late June and early July. So how many pictures from the January thru April release time do I really need... not many. I'll also have The Passion soon, I'm sure, and then there's the more recent product that will be ready for me by then, such as Hidalgo, Starsky and Hutch, Scooby Doo 2, and Lady Killers.

All in all, while biz may slow down a bit, I don't see a draught coming for subruns. If it does happen... I just book more live shows. Thank god for that stage.
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