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TOPIC: Am I nuts?

Am I nuts? 01 Sep 2004 14:49 #24581

  • crazyman
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I'm looking into opening a 3-4 screen 2nd run theater. My area (upstate NY) has decent demographics (100+K in a 15 mile radius) and not much 2nd run competition. Question is, Can I make a decent living at this? I love film and desperately want to run my own business. But I can’t starve at this point in my life. Not adverse to hard work long hours blah blah blah, I know Ive got the drive and talent to make it run etc. Also, any good books and such on starting a theater? Any advice would be greatly appreciated
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Re: Am I nuts? 01 Sep 2004 16:15 #24582

  • leeler
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I was in your shoes about one year ago....I opened my little one screen theater last Novemberand haven't looked back since. It has been more work than I imagined but it has been lots of fun too. My advice is to read this forum's old posts as many subjects have been covered and the responses have been very illuminating. Yes, there are books and they might be helpful but I have learned loads from this site and just doing it myself. Good luck.

Leeler
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Am I nuts? 01 Sep 2004 20:38 #24583

  • RealButter
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I'm guessing you might be in the Albany area? I lived in the area for a number of years and there used to be a 2nd run in the Northway Mall that closed. It was a cheap seats owned by one of the mall chains.

With the number of sreens in the regoin and the length of time that the commercial theaters hold the films, you really need to scout your market and compile a full business plan.

Is there a former theater that you're looking to buy? Are you converting a space?

Definitely read archives here, you might want to talk to some of the independent theater owners in the area or in other places who are doing what you envision creating, also check out Dan's blog at [url=http://www.urlblue.com.]www.urlblue.com.[/url] Although he and his wife are planning an indie film house, he outlines alot of the issues that any theater faces.

Good luck!
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Re: Am I nuts? 03 Sep 2004 11:00 #24584

  • sals
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Leeler's right. It's a lot more work than you'd expect...and I'm just running a little single. But it's so much fun as well. You might not make a lot of money at first but they say you build your audience one at a time...I already see a big improvement.

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Re: Am I nuts? 15 Sep 2004 18:51 #24585

  • crazyman
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Thats right, But Im trying to concentrate on the Saratoga area. Good college and artsy population with cash. No old theaters to buy but quite a few old grocery stores on good main streets. lots o room for screens!. Been working on the B- plan for about a week now (holy cow! what a job that is) Still trying to work the numbers to see if I can afford to do this . we'll see. That northway mall theater building is still there but it has been vacant for years and way beyond repair, been a good home for the critters though, oh well.
Any good theater owner mags I should subcribe to? Suggestions on companies for Equipment?
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Re: Am I nuts? 15 Sep 2004 23:08 #24586

  • rodeojack
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Equipment is the least of your problems... don't worry about it. When the time comes, you can find equipment within just about any budget.

A far more pressing problem is finding a building that you can adapt for the function. Working up a business plan that's reasonable enough to tell you you're not just being led by emotion is also important.

Make sure you've got a valid market and can afford to lease, buy or adapt a structure for the business. Seats, screens, projectors, sound systems and concession gear are all factors... but are a much smaller part of the big picture than you might imagine.

Good luck!
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Re: Am I nuts? 16 Sep 2004 11:34 #24587

  • Large
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The subrun market is dead.


The Art Film market is growing


Oh yea, you are nuts!


[This message has been edited by Large (edited September 16, 2004).]
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Re: Am I nuts? 16 Sep 2004 16:49 #24588

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Subrun is dead?

Thirty Four years of running this subrun theatre and I just had my biggest grossing year ever this past year. This year is neck and neck with last year, slightly ahead at the moment, but looking at the product situation for the remainder of the year, I expect to end just slightly behind last year. If that is the case, it will be my 2nd highest grossing year. Not bad.

Of course 2nd run, just as in first run has seen admissions drop as prices rose, but the important thing is the bottom line. Profits. And the profits are better then ever.

I don't think that subrun business has disappeared, rather the type of exhibitor and theatre has vanished that are needed to make 2nd run successful.

In first run if you have an acceptable theatre, kept clean, fairly well run, in a good location and have the best product you will do well. In 2nd run you must have an exceptional theatre, clean, very well run, in a decent location with an attractive price, and play product geared to your specific target audience. You can not take anything for granted. You must not just sell your product but your theatre as well. You must give a theatre going experience that can not be had at the first runs. One that makes the patrons feel like they are going to the theatre and not just the movies. You also need a large customer base.

If you have all those things, and give total commitment to all the small details, you will succeed.
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Re: Am I nuts? 16 Sep 2004 21:28 #24589

  • crazyman
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Sorry Large, But I must agree with Roxy.

2nd run can and should have a huge resurgence now. Movies hit the 2nd run in weeks not 3-4 months like years ago. Ill always wait for a movie to hit the cheap theater near me. People are tired of shelling out 9$-10$ our even more for a ticket, 20$ for a small popcorn and a soda and then being bent over again for money for "jimmy"!
(no offense to jimmy)

Make it special and unique and reasonably priced and thay will come! Wouldn't it be cool if people actually dressed up to go to the movies again?!! Ties and hats ... YEEHAA! All right.... im am crazy.

See Yall
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Re: Am I nuts? 16 Sep 2004 23:06 #24590

  • outaframe
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Yeah CRAZY, I'm one of those reasonably priced movie ticket types myself, and I agree that $8 (and up) to see ANY movie is highway robbery... But about those suits, ties, and hats: MANY consider that when they have socks on nowadays, it's a formal occasion...
As to wanting to get into this crazy business: be careful what you wish for, you might get it... You'd probably make more money working at MickeyDee's, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun!...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited September 17, 2004).]
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Re: Am I nuts? 20 Sep 2004 23:39 #24591

  • Alan_G
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The viability of second run is also affected by the nature of the first run market. If you're in a metro area with multiple 24-screen houses you can't get some movies until the Friday before the Tuesday they're released on DVD and VHS. The big houses just keep showing them and the distributors don't want to accept 35% of your $1, $2, or $3 when they can keep taking 35% of $8.50 from the majors.
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Re: Am I nuts? 23 Sep 2004 23:17 #24592

  • tratcliff
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I would agree with Large that sub-run, as sub-run is actually defined is dead or dying.
The actual "sub-run" release date of movies is now just about the same time as video release date.

But what I think the replies to Large have been talking about here is not sub-run but "move-over" or "mid-run" theatres -- theatres that get movies 3-4 weeks off break and/or when the 1st run theatre in the market drops them.
My theatre is a move-over. And I am alive and growing.
We started as an actual sub-run 8 years ago and almost went belly-up in 6 months. After we switched to move-over, we have done increasingly well each year.
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Re: Am I nuts? 24 Sep 2004 01:02 #24593

  • RoxyVaudeville
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QUOTE: [I would agree with Large that sub-run, as sub-run is actually defined is dead or dying.
The actual "sub-run" release date of movies is now just about the same time as video release date.]

The problem is that no one seems to understand what the definition of "subrun" is. We have to look at this from a historical perspective. The newbies in this industry, and in this case I mean anyone that has been in it for less then 25 years, don't remember what subrun is (was?).

First of all what does subrun stand for? It is in fact a shortening of the term "Subsequent run". The word subseqent means: "following in time or order; succeeding; to follow close after". It is a term that goes back to the beginnings of our industry... way back to the days of the Nickelodeon. In the early years of this industry, a release system was established where movies were distributed from large city to small, from downtown to neighborhood, from big theatre to small one, and from studio owned theatres to independently owned ones. Many factors came into play in various markets as to who played a film first and where it went from there.

In those pre-television days there were often 5 or 6 runs in larger cities. There can only be one FIRST run showing of a film in any given market, and that is the FIRST theatre that shows it. You must also remember that it was the rule all the way up to the mid 70s that a picture only played one week in a first run theatre, except for the very largest of cities, and at only one theatre in any given town or city. Films that did really well would be held over for a 2nd and sometimes even a 3rd week, but that was not the norm. All runs after the first run were know as subsequent runs, or sub-runs. Therefore sub-run included 2nd run, 3rd run, 4th run and so forth.

There was something called "moveover run", that was not considered subrun, but it was not what we consider as moveover today. It was used generally in large cities where pictures would play more then one week. A moveover run was when a first run film was moved to another lesser first run house in the same city or district to make way for a new important film to open in a prestige house. The price at the moveover house continued to be the first run price at the former location as it wasn't considered a break in the run, just a relocation of the run.

Today 2nd run has been renamed "moveover run" and 3rd run for all intents and purposes "discount run". Of course discount run is usually defined today by a ticket price much lower then the norm. In many markets any theatre charging $2.50 or less for adults at evening showings is considered a discount house.

If you are a so-called moveover run you probably get product 4 to 8 weeks after first run release depending on your market area. If you get film 2 weeks after national release, you are a delayed first run. That means that your location is recognized as a first run, but due to your inability to play films for more then two weeks, you are held back until prints come off of 2nd screens at multiple screen theatres. Or it could mean that you hold yourself back for that same reason or for a lower film rental percentage.

There is a misconception among many younger and/or newer members of the industry that if you don't open a film on the national release date that you are not first run. You are in fact first run, regardless of when you play a picture ,if you are the first theatre to show it in your market area no matter what date you open it. Obviously, if there is only one theatre in a market area, and it waits months to play a film, it would be difficult to accept it as a first run, but technically if a film hadn't been shown anywhere nearby it is the first showing in that area, and therfore the first run.

Therefore by definition "moveover run" is a sub-run as it comes after or subsequent to first run. If moveover run is alive and well... then subrun is alive and well as well. It is the later runs of sub-run, what we now call discount run that is dying or dead.

My theatre whether we call it moveover run, intermediate run, or whatever, is actually subrun as it is subsiquent to first run... and it's doing quite well, thank you. I play films anywhere from 4 weeks after national release (not very often) to 4 months (just before video)depending on the studio. The timing doesn't seem to make much difference. As long as I play the films that my patrons want to see I do well regardless of when I play them.

Yes, discount is dead... but not subrun.

So subrun is not dead

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