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TOPIC: Independant Movie Theater

Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 02:27 #24442

  • gremlin
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I was kind of wondering how you would go about setting up a Independant Movie Theater. I want to show old movies like John Wayne or Indiana Jones. I know this is a very general question but any info would be great.

thanks
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 09:08 #24443

Forget the John Wayne and the Indiana Jones
Go First run with your independant theatre.
There is not enough audience to make any money in the "specialty shows" (Older prints are very limited)

1. write a business plan ( a very dtailed one)
2. research, research, research. If you know absolutley nothing about the business, go work in the business for a few years, see if you like it or hate it. Find out what works and what does not. Read the FAQ section here and ask questions.


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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 14:47 #24444

  • revrobor
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I disagree with GTE. It would depend on your location, of course, but there is always an audience for classic, specialty and foreign films, especially in a single screen run the way a theatre used to be run. Let the corporate big boys fight over the first run stuff. If the film is big enough it will still have life in sub-run if you want to run some newer stuff.

I agree with GTE in that you need to put a business plan together first.

Good luck!

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 14:57 #24445

  • rodeojack
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There may be an audience for old classics, but you're taking a real gamble that you've got a good long-term formula. Before you get too involved in this idea, you should probably ask yourself if/why enough people will attend your business to watch films that have been on countless cable channels for years.

It may start out as a novel concept... but once the novelty wears out, will there be enough left to keep the boat afloat?
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 15:21 #24446

  • outaframe
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I'm afraid I have to agree with JACK
on this... I WISH that we COULD bring back many of the great pictures from the past, on a regular basis... But the fact is that MOST people who love these pictures as much as SOME of us do, have already purchased them on VHS or DVD, and probably have an elaborate home system to play them whenever they want (I know that I do)... It isn't the same as seeing them in a real movie theater (which I sometimes do, for myself and a FEW friends), but it does satisfy the "ache" to see them again... Another stumbling block is the question of print availablity and condition, AND the shipping and licensing costs... As an occasional thing, it probably will work, but as an everyday program source, I'm afraid it just won't pay off... Sorry!...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited June 01, 2004).]
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 15:33 #24447

I ran Midnight movies a few years back and I ran Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was an original print from teh original release it was faded and brittle and broke numerous times.
and like outaframe said most people will watch it on their own system.
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 01 Jun 2004 18:08 #24448

  • Ken Layton
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My local film society has recently played 35mm prints of the most popular Marx Brothers films, many Betty Boop cartoons, and the Columbia Buster Keaton Shorts. In fact the Buster Keaton stuff was brand new prints!

Normally I don't attend the Olympia Film Society shows since the theater is in a very bad section of town, but when they show stuff like I mentioned above, I'm happy to shell out some money.
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 02 Jun 2004 02:21 #24449

  • outaframe
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KEN, that just points out how unpredictable print condition can be... You saw pristine prints on these seldom seen oldies, but the last time I booked GWTW for a short fill-in spot (shortly before it was shown on network TV the first time) I started checking the first reel... After spending more than two hours repairing poor slices about every ten frames, I wasn't even finished with the first reel, so I pulled out 3 or 4 other reels and examined them quickly: they were ALL bad... It would have taken 2 days to end up with a print that could be TRUSTED to run through the projectors, AND it would have been a jumpy, chopped up mess!... There was no way to secure another print over the weekend, so I had to put a notice on the door that the film was in too poor a condition to show, and went dark for the run... For a year after that, I had people tell me they had come from as far as 50 miles to see it again... I had NO IDEA that anyone would see my local advertizing that far away, let alone come that far to see it... So, there is no way to predict WHAT you are likely to receive when you book a print of an older picture!...
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 02 Jun 2004 07:26 #24450

  • jimor
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One of the saddest facts of the world of film is that the producer and owner of a film usually only makes money on the first release of the film, which is partly why there is such a frantic ad blitz just before the film opens, and this advertising accounts for a lot of the film's total cost and consequent high rental rates to the exhibitors. Thereafter, there might nowadays be some profit via rental to cable and videos, but even that income will not justify hanging onto perhaps 2000 copies of the film that has run through countless projectors in dozens of theatres. These used prints are usually in no great condition, and as everyone here knows, repairs to film becomes problematic as to cost effectiveness after more than a few repairs per reel are required. Thus, it is not seen as financially reasonable to properly store or archive more than one or two prints (aside from the negative, one hopes) which must be done in climate-controlled vaults which cost money every day to maintain. With conglomerates now owning most all major studios and distributors, the pressure is on even more so to quickly cost-out any title so as to move funds on to the next money maker, since conglomerates are not concerned with 'art' but ONLY profits. The quarterly balance sheet's bottom line is the life span if their managers, if they intend to remain in their positions. A few places such AFI and the Academy are sometimes allowed to keep negative or archive prints, but they are forbidden by contract from making duplicates for anyone else, so just where one will find pristine prints of old titles is very difficult to say, and many titles simply will never be available again unless some outside source is prepared to pay the many thousands needed to strike a new print from the negative, if it still exists! This is in addition to the licenses and royalties that the current owner will demand. Best Wishes showing old prints! I admire the exhibitors commenting here about the great care they take to return a print in as good or better condition than found, but I am afraid that the harried managers who must nowadays make up the platters are less concerned with film quality than the amount of time taken from their other duties, sad to say. As everyone will remind you, it is a business, and a business survives only so long as it consistently shows a profit, and niceties such as 'art' and proper film handling often get in the way of profits.
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 02 Jun 2004 15:18 #24451

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rodeojack:
<B>There may be an audience for old classics, but you're taking a real gamble that you've got a good long-term formula. Before you get too involved in this idea, you should probably ask yourself if/why enough people will attend your business to watch films that have been on countless cable channels for years.

It may start out as a novel concept... but once the novelty wears out, will there be enough left to keep the boat afloat?</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The ambience of a movie theatre is one of the big reasons people would go to a theatre to see a classic. The presentation is another. Nothing beats seeing a 'scope film in it's full aspect ratio on the big screen with stereo sound. It has been my observation that those who own TV sets capable of presenting the full 2:35 x 1 aspect ratio with stereo sound are in the minority and most view classics at home either in the modified version of letterbox format. "Home theatres" are owned mostly by electronics buffs. Also, often films are available for art/foreign/classic houses that are not available at your local video store or from Columbiahouse.



Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Bob Allen
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 02 Jun 2004 20:32 #24452

  • Rialto
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Classics are tough. As an arthouse we like them and don't play as many as we'd like. However, finding the right classic at the right time is tough. I've talked about this elsewhere on this forum. Classics are just like new movies - for them to really work you gotta be in-synch with the pop culture zeitgeist of the moment. We lucked out this time with the newly restored print of Modern Times. It's content speaks to people in these troubling times. I'm optimistic about the newly restored Godzilla as well, but I'll probably be wrong on that one. One things for sure if you are gonna do classics, plan on investing in some marketing and advertising for them, cause no one is gonna show up if they don't know its there.
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 02 Jun 2004 23:59 #24453

  • coryray
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Great subject twist and great thread here. Classics are NOT quite the dying business as some might think. Sony/Col, Warner, Paramount, MGM and most recently, Universal, (finally,) have a separate classics/rep office if not a division. Indeed, more and more patrons want to see a film as it was originally intended. Even my own people can't understand that there is indeed something about seeing a film in a darkened room, with a few hundred of their new found friends.

I also agree classics can be a tough biz, one that takes a long time to establish, which means money spent to inform/build an audience. Calendars, mailing lists and today, email lists are the life blood of a repertory house. Can't beat a list of valid addresses from those who were actually to the theatre to see a film.

To be sure, a thorough understanding of the potential audience is a must. I also think the market can stretch to 25 miles away, (or less than a half hour drive.) In larger metro areas, that circle can stretch much further, depending on programing.

Speaking of programing, one can have a lot of fun building a calendar that becomes a 'must see' week in and week out. Once established, serious thought can be given to running mini-fests or an entire series. Heck we've even brought in critics or local film columnists to speak on the making of a particular title.

It's taken time, but we've built a consistant program, drawing a higher percentage of repeat business than most sub-runs in our area can hope for.
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Re: Independant Movie Theater 03 Jun 2004 00:13 #24454

  • RoxyVaudeville
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jimor said QUOTE: "{One of the saddest facts about the world of film is that the producer and owner of a film usually only makes money on the first release of the film.... Thereafter, there might nowadays be some profit via rental to cable and videos}"

Jim... although I agree with most of what you said about prints, I must point out the fact that it's been a number of years now that video has surpassed theatrical release as the number one sourse of rental income for the movie studios. Now with DVD as well, and the regulars of cable and then free TV, movie theatres only produce a fraction of the total rental for films. However, thankfully it has also been proven that a theatrical release is still necessary to bring attention to the film. We have for the most part become an advertising campaign for the much larger and more profitable video and subsequent markets.

Although most successful movies do well on vedio, it's interesting to note that many films that totally bomb at the box office still do very well in vedio release. If you watch the advertising of such bombs when they are released to video, you have to wonder if they are indeed the same film, as they are advertised as though they were a huge hit when in theatres. Video patrons, who often never see films in theatres, don't know that, and they don't read the reviews of films when they first come out. When the film comes due for vedio release, it is reviewed by a video critic who often loves that same film that the film critic hated.

As I mentioned in another forum here, It seems to me that the media hires only people who hate movies as film critics, but they hire people that love movies as video critics.
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