Comments from John Fink

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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 Rave 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!

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hartford to get Luxury Cinema with Grill on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:18 am

Mike – the Hartford International Film Fest is in November – that’d be an awesome way to open a new plex.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Moral hits rockbottom at the Colonial Twin! on Apr 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I was a patron of the Colonial Twin and I never really found the employees to be a problem (I take these videos as dicking around when there wasn’t customers around – in between shows, ect). Truth is they could have provided perfect customer service but the place was falling apart, it was so musty I really stand seeing a movie there so we’d go elsewhere. Although my biggest regret is at least not seeing In & Out there (filmed right across the street, this and The Game were the last attractions – my guess is it was victim of the recently, enlarged Loews Wayne, which went from 8-14 screens, and Kinnelon – even though that theatre is truly an awful experience).

I can’t say Pompton’s downtown helped – it still isn’t a large draw. The place now seems to be working out okay – the top theatre is the home of the Smiling Rhino Theatre company and the rest of the building is used by Windsor School and as a youth center. If they ever get their plans going to revamp downtown Pompton Lakes, I hope a 4-8 screen boutique theater would come into town, it has potential. As for these videos – it nice to see the theatre back, I’m sure you guys sold my grandma and I popcorn at some point, probably during that summer where all you were showing was In The Line of Fire and Last Action Hero (we saw them 3 times!).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Hartford to get Luxury Cinema with Grill on Mar 31, 2011 at 5:39 pm

What’s the rest of the project look like? Downtown Hartford could certainly use a movie theatre and more shopping (granted there’s a few fun bars downtown, theatre and restaurants – there’s little else). I would be great somehow if Real Art Ways could have a presence downtown.

I’m surprised there’s out of market interest in Hartford downtown. Perhaps if there was larger retail commitment they could have attract a more national chain (AMC/Rave/Regal). A cinema grill would work – – an Alamo Drafthouse franchise + Hartford – – that’d be an amazing contribution to the cinema scene. (Full disclosure: the Hartford International Film Festival has been kind enough to support/show my work for the past three years, so I think very highly of the Hartford movie-going scene).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC may abandon struggling downtown megaplex in Minneapolis on Mar 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

True but it sounds like they had either wildly successful builds like Skokie or really bad losers like Neonopolis and Abacoa.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC may abandon struggling downtown megaplex in Minneapolis on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Crown Theaters built a theatre out of their core market of CT that was a loser?! Shocking.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theater chains rally against proposed nutritional information rules on Mar 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I’m not so sure it’s hurt sales in New York City – unless they provide data otherwise. But I laugh in one article about them not being in the restaurant industry – they’re experimenting with it with Fork & Screen / Cinema Suites / AMC Grill and Cinebarre (Regal’s co-venture).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Theater chains rally against proposed nutritional information rules on Mar 21, 2011 at 8:19 am

The thing is several cities require this – the bigger chains have this information – why not disclose it? As for the smaller chains and independents I’m sure they could provide a reasonable estimation based on the size of the product they are selling if they had to, but I’m sure an uber-indie chain would be exempt.

I understand the conservatives thoughts about “government intrusion in the free market” but come on – you should have the right to have access to known information if you ask for it. Putting it on the menu will insure some moron at the snack bar, (or in management if your at Clearview Cinemas) – can’t say “I don’t know, they haven’t told me”. Other chain restaurants will provide estimates of their products in a separate guide from their menu.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Fandango to sell Alamo Drafthouse tickets on Mar 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Now if only Alamo would take over the AMC Fork & Screens, their concept is so much simpler and better (although I’m tired of eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner during South By)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Echelon Mall Cinemas on Mar 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm

In the 90’s I believe it was run by a national chain of mostly dollar theaters called Reel Theatres.

John Fink
John Fink commented about University 8 on Mar 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I’m also going to speculate some of the seats from here ended up at Dipson’s Bativia Mall (GCC style seats with the Pepsi logo scraped off – from when GCC switched over to coke right before AMC took them over).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Loews Theater at River Falls Mall on Feb 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I believe this closed as an unbranded National Amusements theatre.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Batavia Showtime on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Recently added Technocolor film-based 3D

John Fink
John Fink commented about City Council rejects plea to declare Beach 4 historic on Feb 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Of coarse this is a shame, I remember a NFP trying to run the site and they couldn’t make a go of it. While I hate to see a theatre close, Frank Theaters is the only chain that I know of that have seasonal operations – mostly because aside from very few boardwalk attractions most Jersey shore towns close-up after mid-September till May (with the exception being Atlantic City which does steady convention business all year long) – although I’m sure the theaters do excellent business during the summer.

I’ve asked this before on another thread (apologies in advance) – are there any other theaters in other parts of the country, likely resort areas that close for months at a time?