Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments
Hotwaterbottle: as one of the more cynical readers here (and I’ve been around this block more than once), I agree with many of your comments. But unfortunately it is only AFTER a theatre closes that people take an interest in it. And often, though I don’t understand why, these folks are more successful raising money than a business is. If the theatre could be “saved” (cringe)It would most likely have to operate as a 501c3 and require constant fundraising efforts to keep it alive. But it’s possible.
Mr. Wiltse used to live in Clarkston, MI and relocated in the mid 90’s (I think) to Phoenix, AZ area.
Anyone who knows the exhibition business will tell you that almost all of the info he dispensed as a “theatre owner” was WRONG.
First of all, this grant is not being used to renovate and reopen a theatre. It is being used by an existing and successful (“we’ve grown quite a bit”) theatre to purchase additional real estate for expansion.
Why are public monies being used for this purpose and by what criteria do we determine what projects are worthy of taxpayer’s support when they benefit a relative few?
That the state would dole out $250K in taxpayers money to be used by this organization for real estate development should evoke public outrage. It’s everything that is wrong with our government, our society and our economy.
OK. Let me get this straight. The Crandell Theatre operated in the private sector until its owner passed away in January. It was then purchased by some local restauranteurs for $575k and turned over to the non-profit Chatham Film Club.
The Chatham Film Club is in the business of exhibiting first-run, commercial mainstream movies at prices on par with the national average, but does so under the protective umbrella of a 501c3 which
enables them to avoid paying taxes and wages, while passing around the basket every time the roof leaks or the electrical system needs updating.
The Chatham Film Club, I presume consists of a board of directors, none of which have past experience operating a movie theatre.
Independent exhibitors that have dedicated their life to the business and are keeping historic theatres alive at their expense, paying wages and taxes and providing a great benefit to their communities are increasingly squeezed on one side from the multiplex chains, largely subsidized by the film distributors, and on the other side from the non-profits, largely subsidized by the taxpayers, that enjoy the revenues generated from first-run film exhibition but don’t have to “play by the rules”.
I’m not sure that first-run movie theatres have any more business operating in the public sector than restuarants, and I’m not sure that this is what non-profits are supposed to be doing with public monies – particularly at a time when our national deficit sprirals out of control.
But if this is the case, then by what criteria is it determined when a movie theatre can and should be operated in the public sector? The age of the building? The number of screens? Its historic or architectural significance? Its revenue potential? There seems to be no basis, but these are questions that should be addressed as a growing number of theatres are transisitioning into the public sector. The email I regularly receive from my right-wing friends would suggest that people are tired of government handouts and want capitalism to do what it’s designed to do.
I would be interested in the comments of others weighing in on this subject.
Kinoton junk? I’ll trade you a boatload of your AA’s for a PK60D (or “E”).
Your website indicates that you charge $5-$7 for movie admission and you operate virtually without competition. This puts you in a better position than many single and twin theatres struggling to survive in the private sector. So you want to be in the movie “business”, yet want others to pay your bills and give you the tools that you need to do it.
I just don’t get it.
Star Taylor crashed when MJR opened the Southgate 20 nearby. It was consistently among the lowest grossing theatres in the state. While independents can sometimes do a better job than the major circuits, market conditions do not favor a theatre operation here and I’m always sceptical of those who feel they can reinvent the wheel. That being said, best of luck.
I think what Longislandmovies means is that while people love the IDEA of old theatres being restored in their communities and often suggest they want an “alternative to the multiplex”, they do not necessarily support these theatres where it counts. They will spend their money at the multiplex to see the latest movie du jour while complaining that the downtown single-screener is playing the same “old” movie for three or four weeks.
Economics do not favor the restoration and continued operation of these theatres in the private sector, yet when local governments and community foundations become involved, we get boards of directors who happily spend taxpayers' money on buildings and programming that can’t sustain itself.
This is not to say that the community at large does not benefit, but for anyone who’s been in the business, like Longislandmovies, it’s hard to get excited about the “let’s save a theatre today” campaign.
If the mayor thought the town needed a good restaurant would he use public TIFF monies to build and operate one? How about a hardware store or a car wash?
Forgive me for joining this thread as a johnny-come-lately, but as for you, Jodarmoviefan, I hope you never set foot in my theatre. After you’ve finished your gluttonous binge, having poisoned the atmosphere with the stink of your fast food and ruining the theatre experience for others, and having done so while enjoying the warmth of my auditorium, the comfort of my seats, and the cleanliness of my restrooms, I’d venture to guess I’d be cleaning up your mess as well.
Good luck, longisland!
Has the whole world gone mad?
Danpetitpas is right. This is an all-too-typical story on these pages. Bill and Tina Hunt bubbled with enthusiasm after acquiring the Dallas in April, 2008, then saying they would like to purchase “a few more” theatres and build a drive-in. Now they’re looking at foreclosure and bankruptcy.
Many contributors in this forum condemn the cynics and those who dampen the enthusiasm of others wanting to (re)open a single-screener. One need only follow the threads on this site to document one sad failure after another. And I’m afraid that, with the exception of certain extraordinary situations, the deck continues to be ever greater stacked against a small independent in this business.
The latest in a spate of articles that predict an impending shift in the industry of seismic proportion. Perhaps most disturbing is Kim Master’s comment that the only theatres likely to survive are those that have been “upgraded” to digital and “give you that better experience”. Oh really, better than what?
With respect, Tinlizzie, passion and enthusiasm do not pay bills. And in this business nobody is going to reinvent the wheel. So why not draw on the experience of exhibitors and other business people who have tried such ideas before launching an expensive execution?
I have a lot of cool 35mm techicolor cartoons that I used to occasionally run before a feature. I stopped playing them when it was apparent that people did not appreciate it – especially kids, who actually complained. This stuff can be found everywhere and it will not bring people to a theatre.
I had the priviledge of working with Michael Moore on the State Theatre project and to see his vision reach fruition. But to set the record straight, Michael Moore does not own this theatre. It is owned by the Traverse City Film Festival, which is a 501c3 corp. which Mr. Moore co-founded in 2005.
The Traverse City Film Festival acquired the theatre from the Rotary Charities for $1 and the extensive renovation of the property was financed through the gifts of private individuals. Mr. Moore was instrumental in securing this financing and additional contributions from other organizations and the private sector. To my knowledge, Michael Moore did not personally finance any portion of the project.
Since it opened in November 2007, the State Theatre has enjoyed phenomenal success, due in large part to the unusual demographic of Traverse City which has responded with great enthusiasm to both the Film Festival and the theatre.
Does this make Michael Moore an exhibitor? You decide.
“The point is that these films are designed to be seen on the big screen…” DVDs projected with a $20,000 digital projector is hardly the way these films were intended to be seen.
Ron Carlson is absolutely right. I operate a first run single-screen theatre in a small town and am experiencing ever greater difficulty getting films on the break. More often than not, I’m being locked out of mainstream releases, with distributors claiming that 2600-3000 prints is not wide enough anymore. Two-week runs are also becoming increasingly rare with many distributors demanding three weeks or more while a 60% – 70% drop per week is not uncommon in a small (and depressed) market.
I am situated about sixteen miles from a digital 10 that plays everything. While I’m writing letters to the distributors pleading for product on the break, my patrons are leaving town to see the movies they want. This situatation is exacerbated by the whole 3D issue which has siphoned off the business for the once lucrative family product.
As a multiple award-winning exhibitor of twenty-years I’ve championed the historic and small town theatres and fought for their preservation and operation. They are an important part of our national heritage and vital to the communities they serve. I’m told frequently that people prefer my theatre to any other. But we live or die according to product, and if we can’t get it, we’ve lost the battle. From my perspective the sky is indeed falling.
I must be getting old. I don’t understand a word of this but am reasonably confident that it has nothing to do with historic movie theatres.
I’ve said it before, that anyone who believes that the current revival of 3D will revolutionize the industy has not learned from the lessons of history. With increasing frequency many people are telling me that 3D is not worth the money or the literal headache of the silly glasses. Kids gobble it up, because they’re told they should. And with all due respect to KingBiscuits, it is a sad commentary that the true value of 3D be measured in the number of times things pop out of the screen.
I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on a 70MM “revolution”, but alas I’m afraid the fate of film is sealed – as most people are conditioned to believe that “perfect” digital projection is where it’s at.
Yeah, it’s an Eberson atmospheric – one of the few remaining in Michigan. Yeah, it’s been shuttered and underutilized for many years. Yeah, it’d be great to see the twinkling stars hover over a packed house for movies and shows.
But anyone that would suggest that it is well-worth (my apologies, Patsy) a $40 million restoration is living in a different plane of existence. If the auditorium space is 20,000 square feet, this translates to $2,000 per square foot – more than ten times the cost of new construction! $50,000 for a feasibility study? Jeezus, I’m in the wrong business…
All this 3D banter did induce a trip to the local cinema yesterday to see “Bolt” in “Disney Digital 3D”. I had seen it in 2D and enjoyed it. Here’s the skinny:
I shared the theatre with six other people, mostly young kids. Right from the start I was irritated by the polarized glasses. Ever wear sunglasses in a theatre? The dark glasses washed the brilliant color out of the image and seemed to highlight the poor digital resolution at times.
The depth of image was impressive at first, but after fifteen minutes of fidgeting with my sunglasses I had had enough and left the kiddies to enjoy what I consider to be the cinematic equivalent of my childhood Viewmaster.
I’m not old enough to have experienced the 3D of the 50’s but if it was anything like this, I can see why it died a quick death. I don’t believe that this technology will be well received by anybody over the age of thirty and since you can’t watch the movie without the “sunglasses” I can imagine a lot of parents wandering aimlessly through theatre lobbies everywhere.