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TOPIC: Small-screen theaters?

Small-screen theaters? 03 Aug 2007 13:21 #29383

  • Dean_Siren
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Do any of you have experience running a theater with screens under 50 seats? What's it like? What do the customers think of it? I heard that video projectors cost much less for smaller screens than big ones. Have you been able to go digital faster on smaller screens?
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 03 Aug 2007 21:46 #29384

  • jacker5
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People go to the theater for the big screen experience. I always here complaints when customers see a movie that has been out for a while and placed in the smaller auditorium. They want something they cant get at home.
Mainly a big screen, with big sound! Not a shoe box or Broom closet cinema.
I would really consider trying something bigger than what you have planned!
Now I don't know if you really mean video Projector or Digital cinema?

[This message has been edited by jacker5 (edited August 03, 2007).]
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 08:19 #29385

  • Dexxa
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Smaller screens can work, Im thinking of buying into a small cinema which is doing well, Try and find a service that you can do which other cinemas dont. for exmaple, offer food in the screens, cheaper tickets,etc and offer a friendly service.
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 08:59 #29386

  • slapintheface
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I hav eone 75 seat theater that i have renamed the screening room.....a few people dont like it most are fine with it.....

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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 09:04 #29387

  • jacker5
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yes 75 seats is alot better and truly makes a difference than a theatre with less thean 50 seats.
I honestly hate when I go see a movie that has been out for a few weeks and it is bumped down from the big theatre to the tiny one.
What they forget is your paying the same price as the first run movie and gettting half the expereince.
If they could somehow still have great sound and picture it owudlnt matter but usually that theatr is way below standards in not only the size but presentation!
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 09:52 #29388

  • slapintheface
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We are lucky that the presentation and soud are very good as well as the screen size>>>>>>>>.
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 12:19 #29389

  • Mike Spaeth
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We have a 5-screen with 96, 85, 56, 56, 56.

Does well - small town, no competition. Stadium seating, digital sound.
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 05 Aug 2007 22:39 #29390

  • rodeojack
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The small screens around here are a lot like what Jacker describes. It seems the fewer seats they have the less they put into amenities. In two cases, the smallest screens (50 seats) have their roof drains running through the INSIDE of the auditorium... and yep, you can hear the gurgling from behind the screen.

Oh... no digital... just center and surround... sloped floors, cheap seats.

Around here, it almost seems like the smaller rooms are where the chains send their films to die.

We don't have any "nice", small auditoriums, but it seems everything's a matter of perspective. If your auditorium wasn't a "bowling alley", and the screen was wide and reasonably close to correct ratio, if you put a little more into draperies and wall treatments, the seats were comfortable and the sound was outstanding, those rooms might seem kindof special, compared to those huge rooms where the big herds are sent!


Oh, another thing... the people who own the smaller rooms here don't seem to have a grasp on how to DOWNSIZE illumination needs properly. Those screens are way too bright, and flicker horribly.

[This message has been edited by rodeojack (edited August 05, 2007).]
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 06 Aug 2007 22:31 #29391

  • Dean_Siren
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies!

One experience I've had is with the Stonzek Theater in Lake Worth, FL. It's a 50 seat room that shows Emerging Pictures' movies. The projector is digital, they say it cost only $10K, and to my eyes it looks fine, but they're using the "i-Cinema" standard, which is probably lower than the DCI spec. The sound had good fidelity and volume, but I didn't notice any surround. Dunno if it was the equipment or the movies, since these were made at very low budget. Cheap chairs, I'll admit, but an interesting experience overall.
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 11 Aug 2007 12:48 #29392

  • rufusjack
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For those of who have commented? What size of screen are we talking about? IMO, that might be the most important detail.

I was in a Nova Theater in Branson that had small rooms (5-6 rows 60 or so seats) but still had a good 30 or so foot screen. I liked the feel of it. Would that be big enough?

I have also been in a since closed Wehrenberg theatre in St. Louis that had a room with a 16 foot wide screen. Very laughable IMO.

I would like to add 3 screens to my twin. The plan is to go with a 26-30 foot wide screen with 60-70 seats. Top notch sound and seating. Might even do 1 screen with leather recliners and love seats.
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 12 Aug 2007 00:56 #29393

  • rodeojack
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From my own experience, I never much cared for the way small indoor twinning projects worked out. A 300-400 seat auditorium always seems to turn out with two "bowling-alley" rooms, assuming the right kind of wall is put up. Those long, narrow auditoriums don't have a lot of area for screen width, so you wind up with a small screen, or an off-sized one that has a horribly cropped image. They don't lend themselves well to stereo, since they aren't wide enough to pick up a good sound image from the center-back seats. As a result, many of them are center-surround installs, or just optical SR.

The rooms that seem to work for me are wider than long... or at least nearly square... enough to give the impression of an expansive screen.

Sized right, with a good sound system and appropriate illumination levels, I'd bet you could build a comfortable auditorium with most any seating configuration.

[This message has been edited by rodeojack (edited August 12, 2007).]
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 12 Aug 2007 11:42 #29394

  • leeler
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There is an old jewelry store next to my theater and we have been toying with the idea of buying it and adding a second screen. I can only envision about sixty seats or so in there and it would be virtually all auditorium with a small projection room only and the current theater lobby and restrooms serving both auditoriums. Has anyone else done something like this?
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 12 Aug 2007 12:56 #29395

  • muviebuf
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Leeler:

One item to check in your jewelry store conversion: You need to determine if under your local codes your existing restroom facilities would be sufficent to handle the increase in seating capacity. Like parking spaces many zoning codes mandate the size of restroom facilities based on total theatre seating capacity served. Even if your don't have any such code requirements there is of course the customer service issue - no one (particularly women) likes to wait in line to use the facilities (which is why there are now "potty parity" laws in many states.)
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 12 Aug 2007 13:10 #29396

  • leeler
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If I had it to do over again I would have allocated more to the women's washroom. Our 140 seater has two toilets for men and two for women and the women's is not enough. Maybe a unisex bathroom under the projection room in the jewelry store is in order.

There are no codes around here. I haven't even been visited by the the fire marshall or the health dept.

[This message has been edited by leeler (edited August 12, 2007).]
"What a crazy business"
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Re: Small-screen theaters? 12 Aug 2007 21:13 #29397

  • rufusjack
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So Rodeojack, how big of a screen would you like to see? 30 foot width? 40 foot width? other? (Of course this assumes adequate H to W ratios)

I agree about the long narrow rooms.
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