Tiny cinema awaits giant’s arrival
ALAMEDA, CA — With a capacity of under 50, this converted mortuary, the Central Cinema, has found ways to be successful.
With a capacity of just 49 – the theater’s seating is a hodgepodge of couches and easy chairs found on Craigslist – Haskett says his Central Cinema is the smallest commercial movie theater in the United States. He fought local government attempts to shutter the theater when it opened three years ago, and now operates with the city’s blessing. His next challenge comes later this year, when a multiplex opens down the street.
Currently the only movie house in Alameda, Haskett’s boutique theater raises immediate questions: How does it make money? Why do the studios let him play first-run movies? How can he compete with bigger theaters? But Haskett, 38, who grew up working in movie houses near Atlanta, says his business model makes even more sense than the much larger stadium-seating theaters in Emeryville and in Oakland’s Jack London Square. After getting a small amount of financing, Haskett says he has made a profit since the theater opened in 2004.
The full story is in the San Francisco Chronicle.