Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Prima Cinema brings new releases straight to your home...for a minor fee on Dec 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Not just that – – there’s also a $500 rental fee in addition to the 20K install fee. If I was an exhibitor I’d be going to war with Universal – day and date releases that have been successful are few and far between (IFC has had a few that were minor successes, as has Magnolia). Exhibitors should be more militant, Paramount interestingly enough I read didn’t sign with Prima (I don’t think National Amusements who is a much smaller force now a days had much to do with it). I know Regal and AMC have/had a policy of not playing anything that showed day and date, it’s a good policy to have. Then again I like to think if your rich enough to afford a Prima Cinema, you’re probably well connected enough to get DVDs.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hamilton 10 in Hamilton closes on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

AMC did get many new Showplace houses, a few they had to sell to Regal and Landmark to satisfy anti-trust regulators. So they bought 900+ screens and are closing probably about 100 that don’t fit their business model, which is sad for folks living some 30+ miles from another movie theatre in rural areas. I suppose Hamilton is considered “over screened” or they’re consolidating by keeping open Showplace Hamilton 8 which looks maybe only a mile away from this one. I suppose they are cutting certain operations as the look to upgrade the entire circuit to digital.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Two luxury cinemas opening at Jacksonville's Latitude 30 entertainment complex on Dec 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Interesting website with pictures stole from Cobb’s Cinebistro and iPic

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closes the Cinema in Kennett, MO on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

NYC is a different beast of a market, that one might be fine – Regal still has a single screen in NYC. But if it does close it’ll be subject to Justin Scott’s same shameful, spineless answer “we continually upgrade the blah blah blah” – right, so why are you closing and not upgrading these markets – oh because you wanted the nice, new Kerastoes Showplace multiplexes….

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closes the Cinema in Kennett, MO on Nov 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I have a feeling the closures had more to do with managing a theatre off the grid, that is not within AMC’s central computer system so that showtimes and concession prices are loaded directly from Kansas City, of coarse when they screw up and make a typo it becomes difficult to fix when that happens (it happened to us once when we purchased tickets online for Idiocracy only to discover the theater had no print of it, the theater had to “sell it out” and manually override the system for the correct film).

As for these theaters, if they are profitable I hope another operator will come in, I’ve heard some in rural areas are some 30 miles from another theater, I wouldn’t want to imagine the impact on the towns the theaters are in. I hope we can hear from a local who can tell us if these theaters were getting by or were really not profitable. I assume it may be a mix, I know Kerasotes did replace/close a few smaller theaters in the last few years – however I’d like to think if they kept them open (barring the sale to AMC) they must have considered them profitable enough to warrant it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Essex Green on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I don’t know and truthfully don’t care about THX certification which is a scam by which most, if not all modern multiplex screens would qualify for certification if they’re willing to pay George Lucas for the rights to the brand. But I did see a movie a smaller Cinema Suites auditorium and have a few notes: the Fork & Screen/Cinema Suites experience was very comfortable but ultimately a bit distracting.

The main entrance was re-done and the box office removed with an automated box office only (I suppose if your paying cash you can at Guest Services, inside, they re-did, adding a wall to the area that used to be the long closed/removed Sound Stage Cafe. The snack bar is now a real bar, and there’s a bit of seating around the lobby.

They retiled the bathrooms, and repainted some walls. The seating was modified and is about, if not less than what the theaters had (Cinema Suites, the complex’s four smallest sat about 50-60). As for value: the food was a slight upgrade from the chicken fingers and fries at other AMC’s (in fact that’s what we had). It was okay but the prices are movie theatre prices, so your getting mediocre Applebee’s kind of food at movie theatre prices.

Service was a tad slow, including a wait from start to finish for an hour for popcorn (by time I pushed the seat-side button, the server came, then they told us they were popping more, and ultimately it came out an hour from when I first pushed the button). We arrived about 25 minutes before the show and had our drinks (strangely the wine was the only thing similarly priced in value to a restaurant) and appetizers with the previews. Our meal came out about 15-20 minutes into the feature, and from there plates sat, which is a little annoying. The service was friendly, if not slightly distracting, when the bill comes around it’s towards the end of the feature – imagine what revelations you might miss in the distraction.

The seats themselves were plus recliners that reclined at the push of a button as well. The idea of eating a whole meal with the swivel table is a little distracting from the movie, as your trying not get any food on you. The theater itself is an okay experience, the food is pretty boring for the most part especially since they advertise “Cinema Suites” as an upscale evening out, Gold Class looks more interesting on the cuisine front.

Did I dislike the concept? No, but I there are some kinks AMC needs to work on before this can go prime time (I don’t think it ever really can). While I like having food options in the theatre, I did have to say the idea of eating a meal is distracting, perhaps next time I’ll go for finger food, the idea of cutting and worrying about not dropping food on you is enough to take you out of the picture.

John Fink
John Fink commented about TIFF Bell Lightbox on Nov 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

The main floor has the gift shop, an exhibition hall (currently Tim Burton, the last exhibition coordinated with TIFF’s Essential 100 Films), box office and Canteen (excellent place to grab a quick bite). The second floor has Luna (a sit down restaurant), Theaters 1, 2, and 3 (I’ve been in 1 and 3 – both screens seemed a bit higher than the could have been but otherwise flawless sound and design, I think 3 was a reel to reel house), and a snack bar. The third floor has theaters 4 and 5, classrooms and offices.

Upon opening 4 and 5 were used for exhibitions, including 8 ½ Screens, an instillation by Atom Egoyan in which the seating area was draped with white screens and the projector (placed on the stage) projected images from 8 ½ directly onto the screens.

I’m hoping at some point in my academic career to explore the resources they have for film scholars, it’s also worth noting this is in the same neighborhood as the National Film Board’s Toronto Mediateque.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Reserved seating at Frank Theatres on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

It works for certain theaters and films – I for one liked reserving an IMAX seat for the Dark Knight and showing up 10 minutes before the show opening weekend. They also had staff to assist folks in finding their seats.

For most films and showtimes at most theaters it’s probably a non-issue, however I do know a few megaplexes that could use reserved seating system on weekends. It looks like Rave abandoned it at most of their Cinema De Lux sites they acquired.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Carlton Cinema on Nov 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I visited the theater this afternoon – Magic Lantern refurbished much of it including installing new seats, carpeting and other changes including more seating the lobby area (removing Alan Smithee’s a bar that was there as Cineplex, however closed when I was there last), a new mural, and a new paint job. The place looks good – the screens are still small, but the theater is comfortable and far cheeper than their competitors ($9 adult price verses $13 elsewhere in town), hopefully it’s filling a niche because the programing is excellent.

It’s also worth noting it’s showing features day and date with many competitors including AMC Younge & Dundas, Scotibank, Varsity and even (currently) TIFF Bell Lightbox.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC closing the Plaza 3 in Keokuk on Nov 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

I hope they don’t especially in areas where patrons claim there’s no theatre for 30-50 miles. I hope they’d do the honorable thing and sell to a local operator.

John Fink
John Fink commented about SIFF Cinema Uptown on Nov 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Due to close on Nov 28th per View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Dollar Cinema Richmond on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Unless revived will close as an AMC – one of a few that will be purged from the Kerasotes sale that doesn’t live up to AMC’s business model (which doesn’t include discount houses and small rural theaters).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema 4 on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Looks like it’ll be closing – don’t know what other AMCs from Kerasotes will be on the chopping block but I assume many that don’t have online ticketing are in play – the complete list of acquired sites is at:

The article on this one closing is buried on this page with a few more interestingly odd stories at: View link

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema Grill coming to Hartford on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This one was already reported:

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 – 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 Bow-Tie Cinema Palace 17 and BTX 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 Bow-Tie Cinema Palace 17 and BTX 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).