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TOPIC: First Run and Art/Classics/International combined?

First Run and Art/Classics/International combined? 08 Apr 2004 17:30 #7935

  • zenatek
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Has anyone ever seen a theatre that did Art and classic films and First run films? We are planning our theater and are curious to whethor or not this is possible?

There is a large amount of Seniors in our area and we are wondering if showing one screen with classic films would be possible.

Also what is the possability of getting classics on film on a regular basis Example: Casablanca or Wizard of Oz.

Just wondered if anyone had seen this done or has any thoughts on it.

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Re: First Run and Art/Classics/International combined? 08 Apr 2004 18:57 #7936

  • Larry Thomas
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Might be hard to find 52 classics a year that (a) people will pay to see, and (b) you can actually book.

Many filmcos will not rent their new or archival classic prints to theatres that are automated; only to reel-to-reel projection systems. And there are only a handful of titles that are dependable: CASABLANCA & WIZARD OF OZ (as you mentioned); SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, etc. And keep in mind that in addition to the film rental, you will have some massive shipping charges to contend with. If you book a title from WB Classics, for example, they only ship via Danzas Air Freight to and from LA, and you are responsible for round-trip shipping charges.

I don't know where you are located or how many screens you're planning, but it should be no problem to do art titles in the mix, with an occasional classic thrown in.

I just don't think you can dedicate one screen to only classics.
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Re: First Run and Art/Classics/International combined? 08 Apr 2004 20:01 #7937

Larry said it all.forget the classics,except maybe occasionally
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Re: First Run and Art/Classics/International combined? 09 Apr 2004 23:47 #7938

  • Rialto
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Hey Zenatek, welcome to the club.

My business partner (referred to here on the site as Large) and I own and operate a 5 screen arthouse cinema. We play first run art and the occasional classic. Classics are tough. As has been mentioned the minimum film rental terms are usually at least $250 and more often $500 for something you'd really like to play. The shipping is expensive and the repertory divisions usually want to be paid up front. We were all gung ho the first year and tried to play lots of classics. Now in our 5th year of business, we have found that classics work best when there is regional or national buzz about a title, which nowdays is usually tied to an upcoming DVD release. We did better than we thought we do with the Errol Flynn Robin Hood last fall. We are finally getting around to the restored Charlie Chaplin Modern Times in May. One thing with these reissues is that they make very few prints, so you have to be patient, because there are still big market calendar houses that do well with this stuff. Sometimes being just after the DVD comes out is ok.

Things that have tended to work well for us have been some of the more cultish and obscure classics that aren't in heavy rotation on TCM, AMC, TNT, IFC, PBS, etc. Robin Hood did well. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg did well. Riffi did ok. We couldn't drag people to see Cabaret at the height of the Chicago frenzy, but the theatre people came to see All That Jazz. Sometimes classics work well as double features.

If you are serious about classics, then keep your ear to the ground. What is Film Forum in NYC bringing in on its Film Forum 2 calendar? What is booked at the Castro in San Francisco? The American Cinemateque and the NuArt in LA. And in Landmark's other calendar houses around the country?

Rialto Pictures (not associated with us) is making quite a go of rereleasing beautiful restored European classics in the US. I'm excited about the original uncut Japanese edition of Godzilla that they are putting out this year.

Watch the upcoming release schedule. Look for segments of the market not served at key times. We did real well one year with a WB cartoon collection for a week over Labor Day when there was nothing recent available for families.

Recently deceased actors and/or directors also make for good classics bookings. If you want to have a viable classics program, you have to be entraprenurial about it. We did real well with a last minute booking of Bridge on the River Kwai when Alec Guiness died. If we'd have had a screen available we'd have done a Katherine Hepburn film. Speaking of Hepburn, Audrey's big classics never seem to go out of season.

A whole screen dedicated to classics isn't viable. But a smattering of classics on a calendared screen could do well, if your market will embrace it.

Good luck!

{Note to Mike - We need a spell checker on this site!}
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