Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closing the Plaza 3 in Keokuk on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’m thinking a smaller regional operator will come in and make a deal if it’s still profitable. I assume Kerasotes must have though it was still a viable operation, and I don’t think small theaters in rural neighborhoods are unprofitable if correctly run, it’s just they don’t produce the margins to warrant AMC overhead and attention, especially if they’re going to upgrade (or install) computer systems or digital projection.

Per www.amctheatres.com/welcome – this site didn’t offer online ticketing, so I don’t know if their systems are as integrated as they would be in a newer Showplace where I’m sure real time data on large popcorn sales can be relayed to Kansas City. I assume that might be an accounting headache for management – but they’re not the only small non-online ticketing – this list includes a few twins, two four-plexes, and a single screen (Kennett, MO).

An internet search reveals that another theatre in Harrisburg, IL (4 screens) is also closing and another 4-screen AMC from Kerasotes in Princeton, IL is endangered as Showplace Cinemas (not the Bros Kerasotes) is opening a new site in the same town: View link

I’m willing to bet that the rest of the aforementioned small non-Showplace locations are living on borrowed time.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

I got a very quick response from Joe (next day) – and passes in the mail. What happened (a projection issue) could have happened at any theatre, before digital alleviating many common projection problems I counted National Amusements and Dipson Theatres (Western NY) as the best in the country for 35MM projection and even they had the occasional problem screening. There is one theatre I regularly comment on because for the past 10 years they’ve been providing poor projection at first run prices. The Palace is one that I don’t know that well, and secondly I doubt it’s the norm – I had been here twice before under Bow Tie and didn’t have any issues.

Despite the higher ticket prices and no student rate which I think is a shame with the colleges in the area including UHa which has an excellent Cinema Studies program, things look to have improved especially with the addition of Cinema City at the Palace, an additional screen for art/indie film makes me happy to see. (Film culture in Hartford is alive and well with the announced addition of a new Cinema Grill and with the growth in attendance at Hartford International Film Festival, which I was in town to screen my film at)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Emerson Quad on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:37 am

closed, demolished….and not missed.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Movie Theater coming to Front Street in Hartford on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

Great news for Hartford – was in town last week and was glad to see Rave kept everything that made the Showcase/Cinema De Lux Buckland Hills awesome (the food court and bar and grill). I’m so glad to see cinema culture is alive and well (I was screening my film at HIFF – the Hartford International Film Festival) between HIFF, the new Cinema City, and Buckland looking as crowded as ever – another theatre in the mix is great news.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Majestic 20 on Nov 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I believe that and what used to occur and might start to be relaxed is that an exhibitor was given essentially a franchise over a certain territory by IMAX. Therefore AMC has Manhattan and Regal had to go RPX. I believe IMAX and Cineplex couldn’t come to an agreement on renewing their contract so AMC was able to build IMAX locations in Canada. Now AMC is getting greedy and putting in IMAX and ETX theaters in the same complex – are customers confused? One such location that was confused was AMC Garden State where the usher couldn’t figure out if I should get Real D glasses or IMAX 3-D glasses for Hubble 3-D.

As for IMAX’s “standards” – I don’t know what they are. I know Cinemark was shut out of many markets, saw how pathetic Digital IMAX is and said ‘we can do that’ – and so they did with XD. AMC did it when they at first couldn’t built an IMAX in the same territory as a Cineplex in Toronto, Regal facing the same thing in Times Square developed RPX. Cineplex in Canada has Ultra AVX (the IMAX screens they own were all from Famous Players). And now….Carmike has Big D and Rave is getting Rave Revue Big Screen. To be fair others had in house big screen formats showing “35MM Enhanced Prints” – such as Crown Theaters of CT (one of which – The Palace is still open) and Marcus Theaters UltraScreen.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Buckland Hills 18 + IMAX on Nov 6, 2010 at 5:59 am

A quick note on the rebranding: they actually replaced the “Showcase Cinemas” sign on the door with “rave motion pictures” – however for the marquee on Redstone Road (ha ha – no longer the owners of the property…) they simply painted over the “Showcase” name, as I had seen at their Hazlet site. Truthfully it looks a bit ghetto – like a cheap discount operator came in and took over. As for the other rebranding – they also have covered up verses replaced the “Cinema De Lux” branding with temporary-looking signage that I suppose will now be permeant. This is better though than some sites where they simply just took off the letters “Showcase” or “Multiplex” and left on “Cinemas”.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater on Nov 5, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I visited this evening and for now I’ll tell you the Cinema City section consists of part of the left wing – theaters 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. They have their own concession stand, a few bits of remodeling and more poster cases were added, as were a pictures of the original Cinema City which I think is a nice touch in addition to the Cinema City branding that appears. Cinema City also has a dedicated box office – the box office (although I was there slightly earlier than prime time) seems to be running more efficiently than it was under Crown who would schedule every movie to start between 7 and 8 – a mess on weekends. I do have a legit complaint that I’ve voiced to corporate first – I wouldn’t want to be accused of pulling a Tomas Kent or anything.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Buckland Hills 18 + IMAX on Nov 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Was here this evening – good digital projection (still not sold on digital, but it was sharp and in focus, more than I could say for another screening I had prior that I will talk about once that theatre’s corporate gets back to me). The theatre really hasn’t changed much – aside from digital projection and the removal of the reserved seating (even though some Rave’s have rebranded them as “Rave Reserved”). Did solid business it looks like, probably now more than ever with East Hartford gone (that was always plan B if a show was sold out here). Chatters is now “Bar & Grill” with a smaller menu with the words “cRAVE”. The quick service concessions are all still open. The popcorn is larger but not as good, and the fountains are now coke.

Still a good multiplex experience much as it was under National Amusements.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Why did Kerasotes bail so quickly? on Nov 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

From what I heard other family members sold their steak to a private equity firm that wanted out of their investment (and a rather attractive rate of return). Rather than refinance to buy out the equity firm, they sold most of their chain and some properties off to AMC. Foreseeing this I assume the three theaters they kept were structured under a different entity and managed by Kerasotes Showplace, therefore they sold off the main company and its subsidiaries including land on which they previously owned theaters to AMC, and kept three of their new theaters.

This isn’t the first time a chain has sold out and restarted. Cobb sold out to Regal and then re-entered the market taking over a theatre project Regal while in Bankruptcy couldn’t commit to. The dude that owns The Grand and Am Star Theaters sold off his former chain to AMC and re-entered the market a few years later. Hopefully National Amusements will make a comeback and open a new theatre.

I do know interestingly enough that a few sites Kerasotes were planning were taken over by other chains: one in PA is listed on the developers website as being a Bow Tie Cinemas location, the other in Edison, NJ will be opened as an AMC (I’m guessing they wanted to keep their strong foothold along Route 1 with the 18-plex and Fork & Screen at Menlo Park).

As for the experience at Kerasotes, I found the Secacus Theatre to be very good: excellent popcorn, clean, solid (but digital) projection, free popcorn and soda refills (which is bad because the popcorn is so excellent). It’s a worth competitor to the nearby consistently excellent Edgewater Multiplex and they keep their prices low enough to compete with Columbia Park up the road. The annoying thing is they have a ticket taker and then another person that checks you ticket at the door: if they had reserved seating I could understand.

Does anyone know if Kerasotes has announced any new theatre projects? As for Chicagoland – they have one theatre in Chicago proper still operating – a brand new Showplace Icon.

John Fink
John Fink commented about New theater in Sandusky, OH opens in November; two others to close on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:32 am

I always thought Sandusky was over screened, perhaps not in the summer time with Cedar Point down the road. I had visited a few summers ago, both theaters were decent. I know the Carmike that’s about to close is all digital.

I do think if someone were to pick up the old Movies 10 it could work as a discount operation. I believe there is also a few drive ins near by, and a couple of big Regals in the vicinity.

John Fink
John Fink commented about New theater to open in December in Scottsdale on Oct 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

Wow – Gold Class was acquired with little press (not nearly as much press as it had when it entered the market place with the now famous $30 ticket!). iPic is run by the dude that used to run Muvico before he was ousted from the company which itself probably should have accepted AMC’s buyout offer years ago.

While I like the idea of options and Gold Class sounds like the type of place I’d go to celebrate my birthday or go see a movie that I really wanted to see in baller style (it wouldn’t be an all the time kind of experience for me, but it’s a nice option for date nights).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Kinnelon 8 on Oct 18, 2010 at 6:22 am

It’s only been about 10 years that Clearview has been charging a first run ticket price for a poor quality experience. Meanwhile the concession stand has been upgraded a few times since CJM’s ownership.

I’m glad right as 35MM is dying that Clearview is investing in bringing the theater up to the standards that say, General Cinema had in the 1960’s. I’ve had more bad experiences with this theater than good ones from the film ending before the credits (a manager once told me “there’s nothing I can do, you saw the whole movie” – someone this disrespectful to filmmakers should not be presenting films for a living) to several projection issues ranging from framing to focus problems. The front two houses are generally decent, while the back houses are in general kind of awful (except 10 and 11 which I don’t believe have the aforementioned construction problem).

As I’ve said before I could be more forgiving if this was a second run discount house (Teneck has pretty poor projection, they’ve always had – but they are a second run house and priced accordingly) – but for $10.75 a seat, which is about the going rate for a first run ticket in the area, you’d hope to have a good experience. I should also note that there are two theaters that had opened in the last 12 months in Northern New Jersey, they have no issue offering proper aspect ratios, sharp focus, good sound, and stadium seating and are able to do all this at a cheaper price point ($10 for adults).

The theater gets away with providing a crappy experience because they have in the past provided such terrible answers to projection complaints as “the movie was sent to us this way” – and sadly people don’t question it, or demand a refund and see the film elsewhere.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Garden State 16 on Oct 18, 2010 at 5:43 am

ETX is almost as pointless as digital IMAX, I saw Fredrick Wiseman’s Boxing Gym on the ETX in Toronto (granted not a highly visual action picture that requires thumping base) but it is just that: a large screen with a good sound system. For the most part AMC Garden State offers that without paying an upgrade fee. Of coarse the worst thing is that AMC now charges $12 and soon Clearview will think they can for their crappy discount house quality Bergen County theaters – Tenafly which is downright awful in terms of comfort and projection is now $11.50! (two new stadium seating theaters in Northern New Jersey do a better job for an adult price of $10)

I can’t wait for this weekend when I get to experience the high quality clarity that IMAX was made for with Paranormal Activity 2: An IMAX Experience. If there was ever a movie requiring a high definition image it’s Paranormal Activity 2.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Video shot at Colonial Theater nearly twenty years ago becomes a reality series! on Oct 18, 2010 at 5:35 am

Two moron spammers on the same page – there needs to be better vetting here.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Warner Bros. cancels 3D release of "Harry Potter" film on Oct 17, 2010 at 6:47 am

True, but it sounds like Harry Potter was going to be a converted job and they didn’t want to have another Clash of the Titans or Last Airbender on their hands which had minimal (if at all) 3-D effects. Jackass itself is a performance art spectacle, just what 3-D was made for (although I haven’t seen it yet).

Secondly I wish spammers would speak better English so it was less obvious that they were spammers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to help this exiled billionaire in Niagara get back home to London….

John Fink
John Fink commented about Video shot at Colonial Theater nearly twenty years ago becomes a reality series! on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Fun times – spent many a summer as a patron of the Colonial, right around 1993 (nice seeing Dennis The Mennis in one clip on the big screen downstairs, I probably saw it there with my grandma one summer afternoon).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theatre management company for hire on Oct 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Well clearly – seeing from what looks to be a picture of Loews Boston Common on their homepage they must manage all of AMC! (kidding)

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Brentwood 14 on Oct 7, 2010 at 7:25 am

Was this originally slated to be under a different operator? The exterior pictures of the side of the building look Cinemark-like?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Soundview Cinemas on Oct 2, 2010 at 6:44 am

While I can’t defend Clearview, which is a chain that I think has done some serious damage to the movie going culture in Northern New Jersey (Kinnelon is unforgivable mess, the second worst theater in terms of projection I’ve seen), I will say after reading the articles the problem may be high taxes in town, thus rents were raised, tenants left, and so forth. Still a theater is a major draw as an anchor for any shopping center. Perhaps another operator could come in here and strike a more favorable lease, remodel the theater a bit and reopen it. This is not uncommon, but is more so in down south I feel, where you read about old AMC and General Cinema sites getting gutted and rebuilt with stadium seating. It’s less common in the North East for whatever reason.

I’d be willing to bet Bow Tie is reviewing the economies of operating Soundview right now. Otherwise I suppose if the attendance numbers are strong an indie might consider making a go of it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Studio Movie Grill Northwest Highway on Sep 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm

It appears AMC is only showing films on 12 screens ?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theaters to be required to post calorie counts on Sep 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Anyone company that sells food items at more than 10 stores nationally in New York City, including cinemas, are required to post calorie counts on the menu boards. I don’t think its government intrusion to require a company to produce information the vender should have on hand anyway. Why should this be secretive?

I know at Starbucks they offer a brochure with Nutrition Facts. This requirement simply makes it so that consumers can have more access to information, accordingly I saw a press release from Regal that they soon going to offer a “100 Cal” snack pack with a small popcorn and Coke Zero at their concession stands. I think that’s a creative approach to offering more choice.

I see a lot of films, at least twice a week I have popcorn and soda. I might downgrade to a smaller size when I figure how long on a treadmill it’ll take to burn off that consumption. The regulation makes it so that customers can see what is already known so you know exsactly what you are purchasing? Are you also against labeling ingredients on food packaging? Is it government intrusion to require this information be clear and in easy to understand language so that if you have an allergy you can avoid it?

John Fink
John Fink commented about San Bernardino Stadium 14 & RPX on Sep 22, 2010 at 5:19 am

Originally it was designed to be an AMC, who pulled out at some point.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Toronto International Film Festival opens its new theater complex September 12 on Sep 16, 2010 at 5:38 am

I’ll be here on Saturday for After Shock – but I was at the opening block party they ran on the 12th – the facility is a beatiful temple of cinema: the first floor contains the Essential Cinema exhibit, gift shop, box office and bistro. The second floor has a lounge/sit down restaurant and theaters 1-3, the third floor has theaters 4-5 which are currently showing instillation works – 4 has Atom Egoyan’s 8 ½ Screens (scenes from 8 ½ are projected onto screens draped over the seats, viewed from the front of the theatre), and a piece by Guy Maddin. Also on this floor are studios/classrooms.

The sad thing is I’m pretty sure (maybe AFI…but I’m pretty sure) we have nothing quite like this is the USA. Then again this is probably the reason why tickets are so darn expensive for TIFF and getting more expensive every year. It’s exciting though that TIFF will bring first run art films that would have never played at the Carleton or Cumberland to town along side their Cinematheque Ontario screenings – although I’m not sold on that being the right neighborhood for it – it’s a shame that the festival is moving away from uptown. Then again the parties in Yorkville will still continue and that neighborhood which we walked around in before the Easy A premiere at Isabelle Badder was packed with black SUVs and limos.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theater chain to operate new theater on Ft. Bliss military base on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

My understanding is Reel Time Theaters are usually single screen venues that are “programed” much like a college student union showing films after their first run theatrical release. Whereas Freedom Crossings sounds like an ambitious suburban complex and 10-screens with a large and growing population requires a first run operator. Is Grand/Southern Theaters managing the complex or are they actually leasing the property. I imagine a lease would be risky, especially since the future success of the base/community depends on military spending and strategy – they again I speak of what I know very little – I will shut up now.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Atlantic Times Square 14 on Aug 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I believe it was of the “Star” design vintage which was from the partnership Loews had with Star Theaters – the folks that ran that chain were hired to run the chain under Sony – they were excellent. When they sold out to the Canadians and formed Loews Cineplex, everything went to hell shortly thereafter – at that time they were transitioning I believe from a hybrid of the Star design with more theming to less theming which looks more like the Cineplex Odeon big box style, with Loews Alderwood in WA being the first that comes to mind that was of the Cineplex vintage.