Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about Former employee wants Toler Cinema reopened on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:22 am

I have faith these theaters can reopen – and I think it’s a really bad thing when a community looses access to first run films. Digital can be a good thing – with lower cost of distribution hopefully studios will loosen up on some requirements and allow the small town indie operator to show a family picture in the afternoon and more adult friendly film at night – allowing them to offer more variety. But the reality is digital installs are growing and it looks likely they’ll be a cut-off point where exhibitors have to digital or close. I should note – some small town exhibitors have indeed found the resources to go digital, so it can happen – it just has to be part of the long term business plan.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Former employee wants Toler Cinema reopened on Dec 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

AMC will probably not permit if it its within 15-miles of one of one of their venues. The problem is as the article mentioned that digital will become the standard, and if the owner can’t pull together the financing to convert, they can only operate it in the short term. I’m wondering what sort of opportunities will arise as a result of major chains fleeing smaller and less profitable houses (AMC is apparently hemorrhaging money – I read they are trying to sell of their Canadian megaplexes, in some areas they’ve reduced screen count and/or are not booking all their screens). There are excellent smaller chains that could stand to grow, but many haven’t full committed to digital beyond a few screens for 3D – perhaps individual economic development agencies might have grant money operators can hustle, especially if a theater is viewed as a pillar in a downtown community.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Toler Cinema on Dec 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

It looks like there is some interest in reopening these theaters:

John Fink
John Fink commented about Stadium Theatre on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Apparently AMC is giving the same stock answer its spokesmen keeps giving when they close a smaller/older theatre – that it “no longer effectively competes in the marketplace” – – I called it that the small town Kerastoes wouldn’t be around for a while (and I wonder if we will see a plague wipe out many smaller operations if studios stop releasing celluloid film prints). My guess is AMC is gearing up for a screen reduction and I’ve seen evidence they are pulling out of certain markets all together (and many sites in markets they see a future for are currently 100% digital, you can tell which theaters are questionable if they haven’t been converted yet). Still, this is not good for communities that may loose the options to see first run films, as we’ve been seeing the promise of digital and lower costs of distribution is there could be a move towards leveraging single screen locations to show more diverse programing – hell maybe even an indie movie on a Tuesday night. The big exhibitors are clueless about building an actual community in their building, so any theater with character is cast aside in favor of the hegemonic multiplex.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Starplex Southington 12 on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Not sure if this is correct but it appears from movie it’s a rare Rave that never converted to digital and apparently is showing Happy Feet 2 in Technocolor (film-based) 3D.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Maplewood Theatre on Nov 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Poland – – this is one of the rare downtown ones Clearview didn’t buy. Clearivew as an operation has gotten better, and spends resources upgrading the concession areas, bathrooms, and seats – – but never on correcting major mistakes made in the projection room when subdividing theaters. So many of the theaters they buy were poorly built/subdivided that you’d have a better experience in a discount house.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Limited patience for limited releases on Nov 17, 2011 at 11:34 am

I agree – it’s the experience that matters – which is why good film festivals are addicting. AMC and Regal are pretty clueless about experience. Theaters like Alamo Drafthouse and the Nitehawk (in Brooklyn) get it, embrace it, and deliver a pretty great experience. I had been at Nitehawk with 3 friends that love cinema a few weeks ago – we saw one movie and decided because we had a great time (food, beverages, and a great pre-show instead of advertisement crap – I’m bias because that night they were showing a short I made before Martha Marcy May Marlene, but still) we decided to see the midnight show that was about to start for a different show. That’s not many places were a great movie experience where everything is done right that makes you want to have another experience right after the one you’ve had (that and you have to be a certain kind of person) – but Regal and AMC aren’t it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Limited patience for limited releases on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’ve driven to Toronto for certain films that aren’t playing in Buffalo, mostly by Canadian filmmakers I’m interested in. I did it for Bruce MacDonald’s This Movie is Broken – which was brilliant (although not as eventful a screening as Edward’s – – this was a normal Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank Theatre). I normally have to have another reason to be in Canada though – and seeing a film I can’t see in the US feels like a major bonus. I was enrolled in a graduate seminar at University at Buffalo, Canadian Studies, last fall and we had two joint sessions with colleagues at Brock University in St. Catherine’s, ON – and what was showing at Cineplex/Empire Theaters during our two class meetings in Canada….luckily Street Dance 3D (a british version of Step Up 3D that never found US distribution) and that hilariously awful (and iconically Canadian) Score: The Hockey Musical!

Otherwise – a good part of my life was spent across the river from NYC, where I had the good fortune to see virtually anything I wanted to see in a given week.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Flix Stadium 10 on Oct 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

Dipson’s major upgrades are almost finished – they replaced every surface in the place and then some – digital sound, stadium seating with leather seats, two rows of D-Box Motion Code seats in one of their larger 3D auditoriums (4 3D systems in all). The theaters are a tad smaller than Regal’s but the quality of the presentations is finally as superb as Dipson’s other locations (Flix was showing signs of wear and tare – – now its on the way to becoming the finest multiplex in the area).

Now known as Flix Stadium 10.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Antitrust lawsuit against Cinemark revived on Sep 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

And in how many markets where a Regal and a non-AMC share bookings is Killer Elite opening at the independents? (I looked at two I know of and in both markets Regal had it)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Jem struggles with digital conversion on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I fear this will be common, I live in Buffalo which is a market that has seen a few digital conversion (only one multiplex I believe is 100% digital in the market), and I’m wondering what will happen if the actual “drop dead date” for film of 2012-2013 actually does happen. I’m guessing the stream will slowly trickle down to nothing as smaller wide releases (say in the 400-1500 screens range) may simply stop being offered to theaters on film, until major releases and art films are also only available by hard drive.

We see it now with major chains careful about converting their higher profit locations and markets while taking a wait and see approach to the others. 70,000 though sounds steep, and there are different business models including Virtual Print Fees they might be able to take advantage of. I hate the idea of people having to travel an hour or more just to see a film, any film.

Although some small town theaters have jumped they gun and gone digital, it’ll be a battle for theaters on the bubble in very small markets.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Chautauqua Mall Cinema I & II on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Large glass lobby within the mall, a small concession stand – two long theaters one to the left, one to the right – – the restrooms are down a few flights of stairs (below the projection rooms). It’s clean and in good shape for its age, another well run Dipson location.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Princeton Theater on Jul 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

The theatre is on the market for $400,000 – – here’s the real estate agent’s page with pictures:

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I disagree – dhroc: I doubt a chain will be held hostage, they will still be setting their own price – if anything I’m not sure how MoviePass will make money.

Dipson Theaters in Buffalo NY offers a season pass program and their biggest in-market competior is doing just fine. Movie theatres survive by selling popcorn and soda at perverted mark-ups anyway. If this forces a certain core of movie goers to go a little more often (and thus have more to spend on popcorn/soda) then I don’t see how it’s a bad deal for anyone except MoviePass (I’m not sure how their business model will really work, perhaps they’ve got a deal with that allows for this, I’m not sure the value of which they can sell advertising can subsidize heavy movie going- I see about 250 films a year in a theatre).

What’s wrong was this was sprung on exhibitors without having procedures in place and to deal with customers with MoviePass. Once in a while on my way somewhere I’ll stop by the Dipson Theatres in Batvia which is 30 miles outside of buffalo, and it takes them a while to find the procedure for the season pass program.

The example I give is this: the other night I saw Mr. Popper’s Penguines because I had nothing else to do. If I had to pay $9 I sure as hell wouldn’t have. To make the film more palitable I got popcorn and soda. The sale that matters to the theatre (popcorn/soda) would have been lost had I decided to do something else that night. At a cost prohibitive $50 a month (double what the Dipson season pass costs me – $300 a year) unless they announce some “light” program it will only attract folks who really want to see two movies a week. But I agree, theater chains should offer a season pass program, even though those come with limitations.

I also have, over at my blog, a few ideas on how and why I think chains need to embrace a more social model for getting folks in the door, the way film festivals do it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm

The deal must have been done through – which AMC is a part owner/founder of. This would explain the absence of Fandango Theaters owned by Cinemark (Century) and Regal which operate in SF. This would indeed be problematic for a national roll out. Still I think MoviePass is a step in the right direction, as is making moving going more social – encouraging it is step one. I hope chains will learn this is what sets them apart from watching a movie on TV. That and bigger screens.

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

The thing nobody seems to remember is AMC once tried this – some chains (Dipson in Buffalo) do have a season pass program. Here’s a link to my blog which covers this in painful, painful detail:

John Fink
John Fink commented about Film Vet Offers Advice for Rejuvenating the Industry on Jul 1, 2011 at 1:25 am

I’ve always said – if a theater can capture the excitement of a great film festival they’d have an experience everyone would want – excitement – I’m not sure how you build on that but their are chains (Alamo Drafthouse is one) that are.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinemark Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15 on Jun 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

blog from LA Times with a pic (very few pictures also at Rave’s facebook page):

John Fink
John Fink commented about Lehigh Valley Cinemas on May 14, 2011 at 6:29 am

I’m not sure what the AMC 14-plex above references but Carmike had at that time just opened a 16-screen theater by the Airport. AMC of coarse really did nothing when they took over the theatre and last I had gone their, the summer during AMC’s take over, the place was not nearly as busy as it was a few summers earlier. Two things I remember: there was what might have been an old lobby with a concession stand and the far left of the complex (a marquee above it directed patrons to the entrance with box office to the left). On that side of the complex they had (not sure if this was an expansion or not) up about five stairs two smaller(?) theaters and restrooms. Not sure these were ADA compliant. The remaining 6 were at ground level. The main restrooms I recall were upstairs (not uncommon in GCC sites – Buffalo where I presently live is like a GCC museum with the multi-era Thruway Plaza, the 80’s era McKinley Mall, and the 70’s era Eastern Hills Mall – which has the aforementioned restrooms on the second floor along with the former Ocean County Mall). This one did have a handicap restroom by the concession stand. Can anyone shed any light on the expansion and/or division it took to get to 8 theaters?

John Fink
John Fink commented about Towson Commons 8 closing on May 15 on May 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

What evidence do you have that Clifton Commons and Bridgewater Commons aren’t doing well? I’m guessing Bridgewater Common’s Fork & Screen conversion came because AMC already has market saturation with the nearby Aviation 12 and they wanted to do something different at an upscale mall. Clifton Commons, also 100% digital unlike Towson Commons (did you only choose former General Cinema theaters with “commons” in their name?).

Clifton Commons seemed to be in fine shape last time I visited, fully staffed and crowded it seemed as busy as it ever was during the General Cinema days.

John Fink
John Fink commented about NCG Courtland Cinemas on May 12, 2011 at 5:04 am

NCG is reopening the theater on May 20th.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Landmark Theatres put up for sale - but only if the price is right on Apr 25, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Could be Sundance Cinemas big chance……

I don’t see Regal and AMC buying Landmark.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Nitehawk Cinemas to bring dine & view to Williamsburg on Apr 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

The Alamo Drafthouse has been talking about a NYC theatre for years – not sure what neighborhood they were looking but Williamsburg would seem ideal. The dine-in model has taken two forms: upscale and draft house – AMC has figured out a way to screw up both and I’m a little surprised they aren’t looking at exporting the model to a level at the Empire 25 (as far as I know anyway). Seeing how well the Alamo experience worked during its peak time (SXSW) I have to say it efficient, the food is pretty good (not great but good), the service is fast and not very distracting verses AMC which has over complicated a simple model. This project sounds pretty cool though.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cineplex Odeon Route 17 Triplex on Apr 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Worth noting is the theatre closed with the RKO Century name. Cineplex Odeon had never put their logo/name on the place. I suspect this was due to the fact the theatre had been considered in renderings of the plaza circa it’s 1996 expansion. I had first come here in the 1990’s. I believe Cineplex also had run a theatre at the then Bergen Mall in the late 80’s/very early 90’s. There was also a drive in next to the GSP (which is now a parking lot off Route 4 – on the far right near Nordstrom).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Bow Tie Cinemas acquires Reston Town Center 13 on Apr 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Congrads – that’s a really great and ambitious plan at Reston Town Center – I hope somebody snaps some pics for Cinema Treasures – a National Amusements / Cineplex hybrid is something worth documenting!