Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Taking a look at pictures from the neighborhood it looks comparable to the Alamo South Lamar, I imagine it’ll be programed accordingly. (Lamar is all digital, excellent presentation – with a few 35MM in place, they have a few special events but The Ritz, 1 ½ miles away runs events every night). They consider the Lamar location to be a bit more “family friendly” – and the Alamo is most of the time (not of coarse during Terror Tuesdays or Weird Wednesdays).

Think of the Alamo as a cross between the best movie theatre you’ve ever been to and The Cheesecake Factory (in that they have a huge menu, and it’s all fresh and delicious). They care about the presentation and movie selection – as well as having a world class beer and cocktail selection – and they have lines around the block because seeing a film there is just more fun than seeing it elsewhere. (I just returned from 3 weeks in Austin and every time I go to my local, and very good theatre chain, Dipson – I’m slightly pissed someone won’t bring me freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of ice cream – 90 minutes into the movie – – the Alamo has spoiled me on other theaters). I can’t wait for Alamo to come to NYC so I can take my friends and show them just how awful AMC’s Dine In Theaters are.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Nearly-new all-digital quad theater up for auction on Jul 31, 2012 at 5:51 am

So what’s the deal with it, it’s listed as a “distressed” property that was in operation for a very short period of time. What is distressed about it? Is it DCI compliant? (I assume so but in Buffalo we have two small “micro-cinemas” that show movies off BluRay DVDs). And they have laser tag?!?! Looks like a fun place.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo South Lamar on Jul 27, 2012 at 2:50 am

The future of this theater is still in limbo as new developers were hoping to demolish the mall for apartments – they were hoping to keep the Leauges as tenants by including a new Alamo and Highball. That deal fell through which is great, I personally love this location and the plaza it’s in, the plaza retains a vintage funky-ness that Austin is slowly losing in favor of redeveloping areas into “mixed use” complexes. This theatre – like The Ritz is great, although the only thing that can be annoying is showtimes can change frequently as they bring in all kinds of special (often amazing) programing. Actually I shouldn’t complain, the Alamo is brilliant, it’s a theatre run by movie lovers who care about the experience and presentation, with surprisingly good food and drinks – it’s no wonder they have lines out the door on weekends (I recently saw Ted here with a delicious glass of agave ale and popcorn – one of the most enjoyable nights at the movies ever).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Century Aurora on Jul 26, 2012 at 7:55 am

Cinemark and the community are figuring this one out now. I think Theatre #9 should be the memorial and if they can they should separate the roof and back wall to create the memorial space, as that theater has lost the magic forever. Any time there has been a shooting death in a cinema, it’s been a one-off thing (sometimes gang related), not a massacre. There is no rulebook for this, but I don’t think leveling the complex and pretending a cinema never existed here is a way to honor the victoms either. I hope some how they can create a quiet space of reflection.

I’m not sure if Cinemark or the mall own the land, there’s always the possibility they could demolish it for a big-box store. Here’s some local coverage: http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/279470/222/Future-of-theater-shooting-site-unknown

John Fink
John Fink commented about Forbes lists 10 theaters worth traveling for on Jul 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Really kind of a boring list, many of which we know about – I’m sure there are other hidden gems around. It’s more of “if you’re in this hot destination, check out this theatre” – especially some of the multiplexes they listed.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Century Aurora on Jul 23, 2012 at 2:40 am

I am really sad – I almost went to this theatre a few years ago while on business in Denver. I really hope NATO does something (they way they did after 9/11) to help the victims with a night where the proceeds are donated to help those especially those that may have lifetime disabilities as a result of this disgusting horrific terrorist act. The cinema for me is a sacred space, it’s a place where anything can happen (on screen) and where you go to leave your life behind and see the world in someone else’s eyes for 2 hours.

With that said, I’m not sure what the future of the complex will be: on one hand the show must go on, we must not let this terrorist win (I know he’s not a “terrorist” in the traditional sense, but he is a heartless cruel mass murder). I’m not sure if the complex can reopen, certainly not Theatre 9. Theatre 9 has really lost that magic forever – I’m interested to see what Cinemark will do next with this cinema, which once upon a time – less than a week ago, was just another modern big box multiplex in the suburbs.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplex buys four Canadian AMC Theaters in Ontario and Quebec on Jul 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I’m surprised Cineplex was able to pick up Yonge & Dundas without having to sell Scotibank. I imagine Cinplex may creatively reduce screen count either with more fun centers or subleasing space. I knew the writing was on the wall for AMC’s Canadian operations when I attended a show at Winston Churchill last fall: no pre-show video or slides, no additional concessions beyond the usual and ice cream, the theaters were still mostly 35MM (and they showed a 35MM rolling stock advertising AMC Gift Certificates from the 90s), the awful Stubs program hadn’t replaced MovieWatchers in Canada, and one of the larger theaters was closed off.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:03 am

This may be Alamo Drafthouse at the Village. It’s not the downtown location or the two I’ve been to during SXSW.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:02 am

JETERGA STRIKES AGAIN – – this is the Alamo Ritz, not the Alamo downtown location. Please verify what you upload and/or do not upload copy written photos.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Interchange 30 on Jun 24, 2012 at 4:41 am

I’m guessing this one is slated to close with the sale of the AMC Ventures to Cineplex – and this complex not getting picked up by Empire or Cineplex (along with Kennedy Commons – which from pictures almost looks like a Cineplex Odeon build). AMC really isn’t putting effort into programing this place, none of the first run features out this weekend are showing. If anything AMC leaving the market leaves only two major players in the whole country (three in QB) – I’m surprised that they were allowed to purchase AMC but given the lack of another player with the capital to acquire these theaters (many of which do sound as if they are loosing money – if Cineplex paid only a “nominal fee” to AMC as they claim in press releases). This allows Cineplex the programing muscle in Toronto (they certainly used their leverage to keep Scotibank heavy with first run films).

Cineplex seems to be a well run company and diverse company (they operate in areas other than cinematic exhibition) that knows their markets well – they build selectively (unlike AMC’s carbon copy model – at least they had the common sense to build indoor box-offices in Canada), on one hand it makes sense they’ve succeeded, it’s just disturbing that there is no stronger independent operators in Ontario beyond a handful of Magic Lantern/Rainbow locations.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas on Jun 22, 2012 at 4:55 am

….speaking of Cineplex. This one is slated to become a Cineplex location along with 4 AMC’s in the GTA and one in QB. Two AMCs are going to Empire and two might just close all together.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Dolby reveals theaters set to install Atmos on Jun 20, 2012 at 6:53 am

@ Simon and @Mike – – you’re forgetting Cablevision is trying to sell off Clearview Cinemas….. Ziegfeld surely should have Atmos, but the gamble with Atmos is how many films as of now will be mixed to take advantage of the sound format. Just like 3D, when more product was on the horizon, more exhibitors made the investment. Same for other enhancements including sound. It will come on line as it approaches a standard. I imagine that Garden State Plaza’s Atmos install may be on the ETX screen? It’s rather limited with several big exhibitors not installing Atmos yet – including Regal, Carmike, Rave, Harkins, and National Amusements.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Future of Staunton Mall movie theaters unclear on Jun 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

The reviews on Yelp don’t make this sound like a pleasant place to go to the movies (a manager yelling at patrons is mentioned on yelp, it sounds kind of like the one in the article – – which reminds of me that This American Life story about a women who managed a Quiznos after the owner essentially skipped town). The mall’s webpage still lists the theater as Regal Cinemas…

John Fink
John Fink commented about Loews 20 North Versailles on Jun 9, 2012 at 6:48 am

Check out their Facebook page – fascinating – it looks like they’ve half-gutted the theatre with venders popping up all over the corridors and lobbies, almost something out of the third world.

John Fink
John Fink commented about New Metro Twin on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The Ritz mentioned in the interview with Tim Leauge is a cool venue that was turned into two stadium seating theaters with great sight lines. I think they were working with a raw shell there but it’s a pretty classy-looking place, I’m sure The Metro will also incorporate elements of the original look. After all they are all about vintage.

With this said I love Alamo Drafthouse – they program everything down to the pre-show (imagine YouTube clips designed to get you excited about the film you’re about to see). While I also really like Nitehawk in Willliamsburg (it’s the closest thing to Alamo in the area) it’s always encouraging to see a movie theatre run by film lovers create a fun but respectful atmosphere (including kicking out talkers and texters), I think people will travel uptown for the experience. (and it makes sense to go uptown, below 14th is probably over screened so they’ll be massive compitition for product). The only thing about them that’s a little concerning is the pace at which they’re expanding….

John Fink
John Fink commented about The smoky world of Kabul's movie theaters on Jun 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm

“After years of neglect” – – I don’t know about you, but that theatre looked like it was in better shape than several Clearview Cinemas locations. Hey, in Kabul at least they came frame and focus a picture properly – (and the seats look pretty comfortable) more than I can say for Clearview’s Kinnelon.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet on Jun 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Hillariously AMC is loosing their “flag ship” – haven’t been to an AMC in a few months, so I wonder if they’ll change their pre-show “magic chairs” ads. Good thing for the Power and Light District is they are getting a far better operator, Alamo Drafthouse is moving in: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/06/04/3641045/alamo-drafthouse-cinema-to-take.html

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Bridgewater Commons on Jun 3, 2012 at 6:30 am

PS: some of the photos posted here ARE NOT OF THIS THEATRE but of Essex Green. First clue is this isn’t a Cinema Suites location. This should be taken care of and photos submitted (I suspect) should be taken by those providing them to avoid this type of mistake.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC to be sold to Wanda Group on May 23, 2012 at 5:51 am

The comments on Facebook are kind of hilarious – especially ones about AMC deleting comments as a “communist” move. But I don’t see how this is any different than their present ownership. I remember Loews after Sony sold it (I think to Bain Capital….they there’s a name that’s been coming up lately) – over night it went from being well run to being dirty, short staffed with little care for presentation. There are other foreign firms running cinemas in the US – including Big Cinemas (from India) and Cineoplis (from Mexico), and a few chains run by owners whose values I don’t share (Kerasotes racist decision in certain inner-city neighborhoods for one).

With this said, culturally this is sensitive – AMC is one of the oldest exhibitors, an iconic brand that happens to be based right in the center of the country: I see this outrage even though I view the deal as nothing more than an equity stake in the company – if Wanda isn’t achieving a substantial rate of return on their investment they’ll sell it off to someone else. But because it is China (and I’ll give the protestors the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re mostly talking about human rights abuses in their opposition to China) – it presents a psychological problem.

Still the deal is slightly perplexing: I happen to think Wanda is achieving a few things – they are first testing the waters with a big American brand investment (they have been talking about acquiring hotels in the US next), and – to a lesser extent AMC’s management experience (which is somewhat spotty although perhaps they buy into Lopez’s new vision for the company). AMC has certainly learned from its mistakes (no more 20+ plexes), but a management team can be bought for much cheaper – a few million verses two billion+.

I don’t think Wanda will be involved in large day to day activities and programing as FB speculates, but I imagine American studios are excited and there is some synergy that might thaw US-China relations if we can expand the number of titles China allows us to export. Still, cultural protections are important for any film industry (I know, even communists) – but consider the mission of the NFB in Canada, it achieves roughly the same end (to foster talent and export an image of a nation to itself and abroad). It should be interesting to see what happens with this deal, but I imagine if AMC can’t perform (I don’t think its entirely a debt issue), Wanda will sell it off.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cumberland 4 on May 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Jon – wouldn’t Cineplex (which I don’t think can buy AMC outright – it’d have to be Empire or another player would have to enter the GTA) – insist on splitting product between Scotiabank and Younge & Dundas. Another theater that may benefit from the Cumberland’s closing is TIFF Bell Lightbox.

With that said, I’m sad to see this one go, I’ve had several good movie experiences here (this was the first theatre I ever went to in Toronto, on the eve of my first TIFF in 2007, in 2008 it was used for press screenings when AMC opened). Confusing and odd as its layout was, there was something of a classy vintage urban charm to it (not just a big box suburban type of multiplex in the middle of a city like Scotiabank). I’m not sure a new competitor could open in Yorkville/Bloor and get decent product, the Varsity will sometimes be showing films on the same weekend they’re exclusive in NY and LA. A dedicated luxury theatre like Cineplex’s VIP or iPic Theaters in the US would be a great fit for Yorkville.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cablevision looking to sell Clearview chain on May 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Theaters in plazas largely depend on if the plaza needs them – there are some theaters that anchor plazas as loss-leaders under operating agreements. Clearview seems to have not really followed the business model that other regionals do, which is acquiring leases at bargain basement prices as the theatre threatens to go dark. If a theater in a competitive zone goes dark for a few weeks (or years) it’ll have a hard to ever getting first run product, especially if there’s a theater within a mile. There’s also theaters like Phoenix/Big Cinemas that make a business out of managing theaters (taking a percentage of the gross) that could step in.

Sundance Cinemas another firm with money looking to expand in Westchester and Long Island – they do a complete top to bottom redo (in fact the first time Redford attempted a Sundance chain with General Cinema, he considered a General Cinema location in Scarsbrough but reject it on architectural grounds per Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures). Any ideas which one that was/what became of it?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cablevision looking to sell Clearview chain on May 15, 2012 at 7:14 am

Not so sure about Landmark, if they picked up the whole chain it would double its size and from what I heard Mark Cuban was also thinking about selling it off. They did pick up two from AMC/Kerasotes but they were stadium seating multiplexes that would have added value.

For those not from NJ/NYC: most of Clearview is on par with Cinemark’s discount houses. It must be tough to get a large exhibitor interested in a chain comprised of sites that exhibitors in large part ceased operating (many of their sites were acquired from United Artists, General Cinema, Nelson-Firman, CGM, and AMC) – essentially in a three year period they spread like the plague taking over many independent theaters quickly. While others would have retrofitted their top performing theaters with stadium seating as a strike against a new AMC in the market, Clearview renovated without stadium seating while opening a brand new theater without stadium seating (like SOPAC).

Once positive: after all the complaining I did about their operations, they slightly improved where they could – meaning MOST OF THE TIME if the theater was properly constructed you might get a picture that was in focus. this is the reason I’m pissed every time I buy a ticket at The Clairidge and see they film I want to see that’s only playing there and in NYC is in Auditorium 4 – – oh and the managers were morons who would actually say things like “oh the movie was sent to us that way” and “we don’t have to show the credits, you’ve seen the whole movie”.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cablevision looking to sell Clearview chain on May 15, 2012 at 3:00 am

The Ziegfeld is a great theatre and I hope it remains a first class showplace (although from what I’ve read it doesn’t turn a profit).

Mike, I don’t think AMC can buy Clearview, that would present (or should present) a huge DOJ conflict especially in Northern New Jersey, where it pretty much is AMC or Clearview. (Kerasotes and National Amusements have one theater each in North Jersey – and there’s a handful of independents – I imagine they’d have to sell off half the Clearview chain for that deal to happen).

Secondly: I don’t know who’d want Clearview. They really haven’t proactively been converting to digital last I’ve seen (a few of their smaller theaters are all-digital, I think Cinema 12 is half digital). Their theaters were cobbled together from smaller operators, many converting downtown theaters or retail space (such as one of the worst theaters in America, the Kinnelon 11). Many were so cheaply converted with awkwardly placed projection booths that you get really awkward keystoning that has gone uncorrected since Clearview acquired the properties (ironic that they offer a less clear-view than any other chain). They’ve gotten better and classed up many of their sites but while they’ve installed new seats, new tiles in the rest rooms, carpets and concession stands, they’ve neglected projection and sound problems (especially sound bleeding from theater to theatre at Cinema 10 and Cinema 12) – and never converted their sites to stadium seating. Cablevision admits the theater assets are under performers (they do well on Free Movie Tuesday which surely will go away when someone acquires them).

There was talk years ago of selling off Clearview with City Cinemas/Reading as a potential buyer. Regal Cinemas once tried a Northern NJ presence (and failed with their “let’s build a multiplex just for the hell of it” business plan in the 90’s that saw a 13 plex and a 12-plex in the same town become discount houses – and then they were eventually saved by Bollywood). These theaters are not good assets: they own two theaters they kind of/sort of have stadium seating in the traditional sense. Perhaps Bow Tie or Frank Theaters might be the right fit in terms of size and operations, but who’d want this mess of a chain?

Let’s rationalize this: it can’t be AMC, probably not Regal, Cinemark probably doesn’t want it (although they did want Loews before AMC took them over), Carmike has never shown an interest in NYC metro, I could see National Amusements taking over a good location like Cinema 12 (but not any of the smaller theaters), Landmark would be a good fit for Montclair and Red Bank, I couldn’t image Rave having any interest, Starplex is again dipping its toe into New Jersey by taking over Mega Movies (Central NJ) which is a little out of market (even though they ran the Columbia Park 12 for a little while)…so, I can see Reading wanting the NYC theaters like the Chelsea 9 (and they do operate another movie palace, The Paris), and of coarse I’d think it’d be very cool if any of them became an Alamo Drafthouse because Tim League is a genus (Morristown would be a cool town for that). Also there is a possibility if sold off individually some of these theaters could become independently owned and operated which I think could be a good thing for lowering prices and creating a better experience.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Red Bank Art Theatre on May 12, 2012 at 5:11 am

This was I believe owned by Music Makers (who built crappy looking theaters in the 70’s/80’s) – then became Loews / Sony Theaters (it was one of its few art houses, along with the Community Theatre in Fairfield CT) and eventually it was sold to Clearview Cinemas. If an art release became popular or warranted an extra week in those days, Monmouth Mall was its “move over” theatre.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC said to be talking to Chinese buyer on May 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

PS: we should be worried who will take over Clearview. I can only think of two exhibitors who might want that mess.