Digital Movie Licensing?

posted by Sentinel78 on February 16, 2004 at 10:37 am

Where can I get information about digital movie licensing? No internet search engine seems to help much, but I’ve read articles that make vague references to how much the industry is saving and how much cheaper digital download high-def movies are. Anybody got any insight?

Comments (67)

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 16, 2004 at 10:48 am

What sort of information are you looking for, Sentinel78? Are you interested in supporting digital cinema at a specific venue? Or is this more of a general question?

Sentinel78 on February 16, 2004 at 12:25 pm

I’m mainly interested scoping out a business plan for my aspiration of working till i can own a lil movie theater and “retire” to it.

Movie licensing is anathema to me though.. is it only a percentage of ticket sales? is it negotiable? i read one article which compared digital movie licensing with standard projector and said the rates were better but then emailed the person who wrote the article and asked what hte rates were and received no response..

i’m in the beginning stages of planning my movie theater 10 years down teh road or so and am looking for any kind of info i should know.

The “venue” i would support would be purchased years from now, and was intrigued in attempting ot establish a maintenance free, nearly worker free movie theater with digital media, control system to automatically play movies, etc…

so that’s probably more info than you expected but i figured learning about movie licensing would be benefitical in determining whether this could be profitable.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 16, 2004 at 1:00 pm

Right now digital cinema is virtually non-existent. Very few movies are released digitally and few cinemas have the means to play these. The cost is way too high at the moment for the equipment needed. For more on issues like this check out the forum archives at BigScreenBiz

Sentinel78 on February 16, 2004 at 4:22 pm

ok, i guess george lucas hasn’t been too successful as of yet then. I definitely read a reference to a digital theater that was cited as saying it was saving lots of money because it did not need to order film reels and instead downloaded high def video from their website, i assume with a proprietary program so it cannot be redistributed.

Perhaps this method is not widespread but after Once Upon a time with Mexico, considering rodrigez’s total costs were around $30 mill, maybe it will be by the time i look into this more seriously a few years down the road..

RayKaufman on February 17, 2004 at 12:43 am

S-78, the only savings for a theatre operator that I could foresee would be the difference in the cost of “shipping” the film. Instead of a “hard” film, one would be supplied digitally. Other than that, all costs would most likely remain the same. The real savings would be to the film distributor, not the exhibitor. I wouldn’t think there’d be any change in the “licensing fee.” Most of the opening week’s revenue would still go to the distributor and the bulk of a theatre’s profits would remain at the concession stand.

Ironic as it is, a night club is really a restaurant, a concert hall is really a bar and a movie theatre is only a fast-food joint.

Todd on February 17, 2004 at 10:00 am

I too am seeking information regarding digital cinema, a least on a alternative programming level. Are you refering to an this article ? titled digital killed the celluloid star. The article does seemed a little dated, perhaps some of the more experienced CinemaTreasure hunters might be able to add some insight. It seems that the technology is advancing. There are examples like The Senator in Baltimore, who got THX certified- a special program they were testing for historic movie palaces. Also, Christie seems to be developing interesting digital technology that is compatible with thier celluloid projectors. Any thoughts?

Sentinel78 on February 17, 2004 at 12:52 pm

I just found this link :

View link

and more specifically

View link


looks interesting.. a brazilian company has developed a system of downloading copyrighted high def video in MPEG4 (DivX) format… a 5 gig DIVX compression would likely be around 1600 X 900, which is what most digital projectors can do (maybe commercial ones can do more).

Apparently the standard in the field at the moment is MPEG2 compression, at around 50 gigs a pop for a high def movie…

in either case there is only surface treatment given to the licensing information… apparently it’s still being worked out. Hollywood no longer has the “the prints are expensive” excuse and may need other justification for getting huge amounts for digital licensing…

The whole process of converting to digital is being retarded because of the expense of the changeover from film as well as the lack of a recognized standard in digital media.

Wait and see i guess?

rbehnke5 on February 18, 2004 at 9:42 am

I have put together a business plan for a video store in my town. One of the things I would like to add is a small 25-30 person theater, basically a large home theater. I would be offering movies that are on DVD/VHS only. I have searched the internet and found very little, I have even contacted an lawyer and he wasnt much help either. What type of license, if any would this require? Does anyone have any info for me?

Sentinel78 on February 18, 2004 at 11:07 am

I had a similar inquiry, does anyone even know the nature of movie licensing? do you go to a production studio, a representative of one studio, multiple studios… who should we contact for information in movie specific licensing agreements?

rbehnke5 on February 18, 2004 at 12:35 pm

I found a company called Swank Motion Pictures. Not sure if this is the only company that does this or are there others where you can “shop around' for a better rate. Apparently, you purchase a license for each movie you are going to play. The price of the license depends on the size of the audience, the size of the room you are showing it in, the movie shown and if you are going to charge a fee to watch it. The number I called is 800-876-5577. I just found the info a few minutes ago, so someone should still be there.

Todd on February 18, 2004 at 1:05 pm


It depends on where you are located. In the south east, there is a reputable company called Marquee Technical Services (google them)They have a great reputation in the industry. They work like building contractors, bringing in all the neccessary people to get you estimates on how to get you up and running. As far as going digital, these same companies have the know how to help us out. Most importantly how in the way of costs.
Part of my love for these theatres is that they all share a personality, a unique individual quality that seperates them from the others. Find that individual quality in the theatre you are persuing. Study its history and the people who shared it. Then do some thorough marketing research and find the niche you need to bring this theatre back to life. I agree, digital can open up horizons for the single screen theatre and open programming capabilities. People are downloading movies on their own computers all the time. The technology is here. Hell, if they can do cheaply in brazil (I read your article) they can do it here. Maybe it will even force the cost of the more beautiful celluloid to go down. I think digital technology is stalling because the distributor hasn’t found the exact way keep the strangle hold it has over the theater owners. Especially the ones trying to keep these beautiful theaters alive. Hopefully there are some experts on this fabulous site who can add to this highly relevant topic.

tfoster on February 23, 2004 at 1:33 pm

Hi all,

I too am putting together a business plan for opening a small movie theater and have also hit the same roadblocks that I read about above. I also found the site and emailed them and got no response. I cannot really go further until I can determine if the licensing fees will kill any profit potential. If anyone finds anything on movie licensing, please post as I’m sure that we would all be greatful.

rbehnke5 on February 23, 2004 at 1:47 pm

I am doing is showing new release DVDs in a small movie theater. I just spoke to Criterion pictures, I can pay a percentage of my gross take and that is the licensing fee! VERY simple compared to Swank. One issue though is they only handle FOX studio stuff and some other cult film stuff for theatrical showings. If you want more info, let me know.

Sentinel78 on February 23, 2004 at 2:33 pm

What percentage of the gross did you establish with them? Was there much negotiation involved or did they make it seem like it was a standard deal? Could it be this simple with all similar studios do you believe?

So far, sounds good… DVDs will only get higher definition so going this route may save a lot of dough with start up costs. In reference to my Brazilian digital cinema article from an earlier post, the $150,000 start up cost for their software would not be needed, and eventually superbit rate DVDs will have the resolution to match any digital projector as storage increases greatly outpace resolution increases…

rbehnke5 on February 23, 2004 at 2:55 pm

I got a 35% of gross sales as the deal. I let them know a week in advance which title I will be showing, then after the run, send them a report with the totals by price point, and a check. VERY simple. Part of the ease of this was there are no other requirement from the state of Wisconsin.

Sentinel78 on February 23, 2004 at 4:26 pm

Was the 35% based on some formula? I know they usually base licensing on venue size and all that.. And somehow i think Virginia is going to want a bite out of whatever profit I can get

rbehnke5 on February 23, 2004 at 4:34 pm

35% was there normal rate. I probably could negotiate a better deal, but 35% seems fair enough. In Wisconsin, they can charge either a flat rate or a % of gross sales. As far as Virginia getting a cut, taxes are one thing you can deduct from gross sales before paying the license.

Sentinel78 on February 23, 2004 at 5:09 pm

Yeah I checked out The Criterion colletion.. Not too many good ones but a few were, like Chasing Amy, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rock, Rushmore, Silence of the Lambs, This is Spinal Tap, and a few more obscure ones like Naked Lunch. Not bad, I wonder what some of hte bigger studios offer

rbehnke5 on February 23, 2004 at 5:12 pm

I was told that my license pertained to all 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight and Concorde-New Horizons.

RayKaufman on February 23, 2004 at 5:59 pm

Gentlemen, Not to discourage, rather to advise by way of being an old hand at this. Digital Cinema and projecting DVDs are two, completely different and distinct media. Please understand, DVDs, in today’s format are still TV. That translates to 525 LINES of resolution per picture. That’s regardless of whether the picture is 2 ft. high or 20 ft. high. The number of lines don’t increase or decrease. Even with HDTV, your only getting roughly 1100 lines and that’s still far less than the clarity of film or Digital Cinema, which is measured in pixels, not lines.

As for “licensing,” I STRONGLY recommend you talk to an independent theatre owner or go back and link to some of the prior suggested readings in this thread. There’s a distinct difference between public exhibition and private, closed group screenings, i.e. Theatrical vs. Non-Theatrical screenings. Also, to rbehnke5, I imagine Criterion, who handles both theatrical and non-theatrical bookings of Fox product told you there would be a minimum dollar amount versus a 35% of the gross. That’s what most repertory theatres pay, regardless of who the distributor is. Believe me, you can’t just go out and purchase a DVD of a Fox film, play it and then report a gross of whatever you choose and then pay 35% of that. The business just doesn’t work that way.

Do some homework guys, forget digital, because if it were economical, legal and of a sufficient quality for all concerned, don’t you think everyone would be using it?

Sentinel78 on February 23, 2004 at 8:28 pm

My expressed interest to DVDs is really based on the trend I see in home multimedia resolution over the past few years, from VCR to DVD to super bit rate DVD, there is an exponential increase in the received resolution at home.

My target date, if I really go through with this idea, would be 10 years from now minimum. If current trends continue I would expect the resolution to be viewable and crisp on at least a 20 foot screen by then, minimum.

As far as doing homework.. This IS my homework, i’m working 12 hours a day at a law firm and this is my pipe dream. I have emailed a few owners of independent theaters and gotten no responses, if you had any recommendations about specific owners with advice, please give their contact info or let them know about this thread.

Given the time frame, are you still pessimistic about digital or is it just a “wait and see” scenario?

rbehnke5 on February 23, 2004 at 11:19 pm

I have used an old 800x600 projector, projecting on a 12'x20' white tarp from nearly 30 feet away with an 800 lumens sharp projector with poor contrast. The screen was hanging from the garage (moving with every breeze) and the picture was good, not great, but as good as watching on an older big screen. From the demos I have seen, the quaility of the screens combined with a high end projector and a high end DVD will give me a picture that will be well worth the price for admission. As for the licensing, in Wisconsin, it is either a flat fee, usually around $200-$300 per showing, or a percentage, thats it. I have spoken with New Line cinemas as well and was given the same info. In fact, the sent me to Criterion as well. I plan on opening in June. However, I am not relying on income just from the theater. I have a video store, batting cages, a restaurant, laser tag, a golf simulator as well.
The quality of the DVD mini theater may not be to the level of a Marcus Theater, however, I know it is better then the movie screens I went to as a kid.

dreskiuma on February 24, 2004 at 6:08 am

Hi.I have the same plan to start a 50 person theatre in Chicago to screen Indian movies which are in DVD form.It would be really helpful if you can provide me information as how to get the license.Since the producers for Indian movies are from India do I have to pay them for screening their movies.Since I have exactly the same idea as rbennke it would be really helpful if we can exchange our ideas.

Sentinel78 on February 24, 2004 at 7:08 am

I work at an intellectual property law firm. There are most definitely international trademark/copyright laws.. Depending on the film though it might not be covered, but if the DVD was made in the USA or legally imported into the USA you can bet it would be.

rbehnke5 on February 24, 2004 at 9:07 am

The licenses would only be for specific movies that Criterion has authorization to license. I would start with them. The sales rep I worked with was very helpful, her name is Anne Goodman and her email is .com They have their areas devided by state, so I’m not sure if she is the right person, but it’s a start. Eski, sound like a great idea. How far along are you with the plan? My wife and I were about to cancel the idea until I got the news from Criterion. Now we are heading to the bank next week!

tfoster on February 24, 2004 at 12:40 pm

I also think that Eski has a great idea…I am so glad that I found this site. I have been reading, with great interest, all of your post. I would like to ask the “old hand” WGTRay, what his experience is in the business and if he could share some info on licensing, etc. if he is so inclined. Thanks.

dreskiuma on February 24, 2004 at 5:31 pm

Its really encouraging that mamny people have similar thoughts like me.I guess it would be a great idea if we can meet and come up with solid ideas and how to go next.My email ID is .Please feel free to mail me if we can discuss in person about our steps.thank you.

dreskiuma on February 25, 2004 at 6:17 pm

Hi rbehnke,Iam in Miluwakee now,if you can e mail me your contact info I can come and meet you.Our plan is really unique we should execute email ID is

Sentinel78 on March 2, 2004 at 1:49 pm

Below is a response from THEATERSFORSALE.COM with recommended advice on how to start up a theater enterprise… Kind of hard to build up capital while working at a movie theater to learn the business.

In a message dated 2/10/2004 7:23:27 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

add_info: Hello, I am in the absolute beginning stages of my theater search, ideally in northern virginia is the location i am looking for. This purchase is still years off but I was hoping to eventually use a site such as this and was wondering if i could get some preliminary pricing information so I can set my financial goals accordingly. I just want something small, a few screens, so i can set up a theater in parallel with my law practice until the theater starts breaking even/making profit. my goal was to have it all digital and download the high definition movies as i heard the licensing was cheaper this way – any advice or ballpark figures to expect would be most helpful

Daniel – Thanks for your email and interest in The best place to start is probably by reading a few books… see and look at the bottom of the first page for links to the most popular industry books. Also check out the forums on the site and discussions of various topics from operations to finance. Also, If you are serious… I would also take a position in a local theatre as an assistant manager and quickly learn the business from the ground up. There really is not much to it – rent the films from the distributors or have a broker do it for you, then you have your ticket sales and concession income (very important). Oh yea… the startup costs can be pretty high – so accumulate some cash – banks are not very willing to lend money for theater projects. See attached…. and Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help…


Michael F. D'Onofrio
VP / M&A Specialist

tfoster on March 3, 2004 at 11:50 am

Hi Sentinel78 (Daniel?),

Great post above…what is the “attached” where he says “see attached…”? Has anyone actually put together a business plan for getting their theater up and running? If you have, did you use a template or guideline? Also…it seems, from what I’ve found, is that all we have to do (as stated by Michael D'Onofrio above) in terms of licensing is get a distributor or broker. They do have a pretty good list on the site.


Sentinel78 on March 3, 2004 at 1:07 pm

I didn’t even notice the See Attached! The firewalls at my law firm ate the attached .Zip file (zip files are bad in the workplace typically for security reasons) and instead i got a very small text attachment as seen below, i’ll email Michael at about resending the attachment to an alternate address.

[Filename: TFS BuyerRegistration 06.ZIP, Content-Type: application/zip]
The attachment file in the message has been removed by eManager.

Everett on March 5, 2004 at 4:41 am

I hate to throw water on all the dicussion, but even recent installations of so-called “digital cinema” are rubbish. I went to see the last “Star Wars” movie presented in DLP Cinema at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood and the projection was atrocious. The image was not sharp on one side of the screen, the color was bad and it looked like a giant television screen blown-up beyond all reason. As a comparison, I saw the same film at the Village Theatre in Westwood, Ca. and the presentation was far superior, even though the digitally shot “footage” had been transferred to film! This is not a isolated case. So I think the conversion to digital is a bit premature and hopefully will not happen. It’s just like much of what they try to push on the public these daysâ€"it doesn’t work. “IF IT’S DIGITAL IT MUST BE GOOD"â€"what a joke!

del50 on March 6, 2004 at 5:18 am

If you want to open a cinema outside the USA then New zealand maybe the answer. Many reasonable sized town are still without cinemas. most have a closed cinema waiting or a town hall. Many Councils will welcome you with open arms. Cinema going is on the increase.
Start up cost ranges from about $500 for purchase of plant installed through to about $150,000 for a long play projector.
Film hire ranges from 35 to 50 percent. One major company will let you use DVD for some films. The average seating is 300-450.
you DO NOT need a cinema licence or projectionist licence to run cinemas in New Zealand. Ther are six film distrubtors in this country.

Sentinel78 on March 6, 2004 at 9:40 am

now that sounds like a good idea.. not to mention that new zealand is just about the most beautiful place on earth

rbehnke5 on March 6, 2004 at 9:47 am

Everett, at least for me, rbehnke, it is not so much that it is digital. The theater that I am putting in is using digital more because I am combining it with a video store. It seemed a natural extention to offer the movies in a small theater setting. Especially for the movies you wish you had seen it the theater, but just missed it for some reason. We are going to be showing new release movies, ones you could rent. Granted a smaller audience, however seems a good match for the rest of the business I am putting together. As for a business plan, mine is at the bank right now. Dont know that it would help much because of the different attractions that are going in with the theater.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 23, 2004 at 3:00 pm

Nice thread folks. As a former theater manager myself I hope you’ll take WGTRay’s Feb 23 posting to heart. He KNOWS what he’s saying. Booking films isn’t too hard, but it is strickly regulated.

There are reasons why there are no small single screen theaters anymore. I wish it were otherwise, since I too would love to own/operate one. If you think paying for the film is rough, wait until you see your insurance bill.

I’d like to chime in on quality issues though. I live in Knoxville Tennessee with the headquarters of Regal Cinemas just down the street. A couple of Regal’s halls here are using digital projection for about 20 minutes before the trailers start. It’s walk-in stuff: some advertising, some music video, some trivia questions, mostly forgettable.

Well call me a snob, but it looks AWFUL. The picture is bright enough, the sound is excellent, but the image resolution makes my skin crawl. The picture quality HAS to improve before they start releasing features in this format. I simply won’t buy a ticket (or any popcorn!) to see an image that bad.

Best wishes and good luck. Prove me wrong on this one and I’ll pat you on the back and buy a ticket (and some popcorn!).

Will Dunklin
Knoxville, Tennessee

Sentinel78 on March 23, 2004 at 3:43 pm

Is the digital projection they use equivalent to the projection you are comparing it to? My office projector that i use for powerpoint presentations would be pretty crappy in a theater too, and from what I’ve seen in digital projectors offered on commercial web sites they vary a hell of a lot. Maybe this theater is saving money on the projector as a cheap way to throw on some advertisements and ignoring theater quality. possible?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 23, 2004 at 4:32 pm

I really don’t know. These are Regal’s hometown, prestige theaters that are otherwise first rate halls. I have nothing but the highest praise for Regal’s operation. The facilities themselves are far nicer than a town Knoxville’s size would otherwise have. It is indeed a cheap way to get advertising screen: this has replaced the endless slide show of movie trivia and local car-lot specials. I’ll make some phone calls, see if I can find out the equipment make/model and get back to you. But first…

I’m ready for my nap now Mr. DeMille.

domaindivina on March 26, 2004 at 11:37 pm

Wow! I’m so happy to find this site. I need help. I have begun my business plan, and located a perfect theatre that has been vacant for 6 years. The reason for this vacancy is simple. The demographics of this location have gone to 80% Mexicans, within a 5 mile radius of the theatre. Now….my husband and in-laws are Dominican, and in our efforts to make sure our 1 year old is bilingual, we have bought various Barney movies that are entirely Spanish speaking. And, if you’re familiar w/ the Latin HBO channel, you can watch anything, The Sopranos, Sex In the City, and all new movies, and the voices are in spanish. How can I bring this feature to my theatre? How can I get American movies, adult and children movies, that have translated the audio to spanish, not just subtitles. It is imperative for this location….or else it will remain vacant forever. Any input or info references are GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!! God Bless.
C Checo
Atlanta, GA

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 29, 2004 at 8:20 am

C Checo, when talking to your film distributors, just ask for Spanish language editions. They’ll gladly supply you with the appropriate prints (or disks or tapes or what ever format you’re using in your presentation).

I can also suggest you talk with Music Box Theatre Consulting in Chicago. The operators of Chicago’s premier independent theater also provide professional help for other independent operators. You’ll find them at

Bob Chaney and Chris Carlo turned the run-down, abandonded, all-but-condemned Music Box into one of the best loved (and most profitable) theaters in Chicago. It can’t hurt to give them a call to find out what they charge for consulting.

Buenas suerte! No puedo esperar a ver su teatro.
Will Dunklin
Knoxville, Tennessee

domaindivina on March 29, 2004 at 1:51 pm

Muchas gracias Will Dunklin. Que Dios Te Bendiga.

SteveParker on April 28, 2004 at 2:00 pm

The problem with digital cinema is that the movie distributors can save a hell of a lot of money by not having to produce so many reels of film, but it is at the expense of theater owners who are having to buy the projectors. The technology is not the problem. Those who have complained about terrible digital pictures haven’t seen some of the 2K demonstrations I have. As with film, the projectionist has to know what they’re doing – and of course the source material is important too. It has been estimated that the money distributors could save in seven years would be enough to completely re-eqiup every theater in the USA for D-Cinema. However, at the moment they’re dragging their feet (the fact that an exact technical standard hasn’t been agreed yet is also a problem).

Many countries are setting up D-Cinema test sites, but the majority are being funded indirectly by government rather than the distributors (eg, the Film Council’s £13 million investment in the UK). An additional problem now is that the industry seems to be switching from the idea of 2K projection to 4K projection. Believe me, 4K will be as good as any projected film you see, but the equipment will be even more expensive. Distributors will push the idea to theatres that with digital they can access additional revenue streams (eg, major live sporting events or private conference/projection hire – the source material of which is of course digital). However, if the distributors want the process speeded up, chances are they’ll have to reach into their own pockets and subsidise it themselves (unless they can use their influence to lobby government to pay for it on their behalf).

Piffka on May 27, 2004 at 12:56 pm

Besides the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation there is also a distributor called Movie Licensing USA. For a public library their fees are more than double but the catalog is more diverse & larger.

On the database you can find out the distributor of individual films. Look at the “Company Credits” link to the left. There are often several distributors listed, be sure you select one for your country and that mentions it is for DVD. You can also get a casual view of each distributor’s catalog by clicking their name when it is in hypertext format.

RayKaufman on May 27, 2004 at 3:18 pm

Piffka, you’re partly correct on the IMDb site. It’s not the DVD distributor you’re looking for. It’s the FILM distributor as they hold the Public exhibition rights. DVD distribution is for the Private, home use ONLY. For example, if I want to show ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for my movies-in-the-park film series, which I’m screening with a digital projector, renting the DVD from the local Hollybuster video store; I call Dreamworks Distributing in Glendale, CA. I get the booking, paying the advance and have full rights to show the film to the public. They and they alone hold the Public exhibition rights, regardless of the form, be it 35mm, 16mm, VHS, (who’d wanna,) or DVD.

Piffka on May 27, 2004 at 3:52 pm

I see what you mean, WGTRay… I should have emphasized that the purchased “blanket” public performance rights I mentioned apply to public libraries & schools… and in some cases, to other non-profit organizations like churches and service clubs. For our library’s needs, the Dreamworks films are available through the Movie Licensing-USA’s blanket license but not through MPLC. See this website for a list of the film distributors covered by ML-USA:

We use IMDb to determine which distributor controls the film and whether that distributor is part of one of these blanket PPR licenses.

I think that the MPLC may be available to for-profit organizations. This is what their website says:

“Over 100,000 locations, including child care programs, public libraries, schools, clubs, park and recreation depts, and corporations have obtained MPLC’s Umbrella License with the assurance that the Videos they show are in compliance with the federal Copyright Act.”

rroberts on July 16, 2004 at 6:35 am

May I remind our readers that when sound technology was introduced in the late 1920s there was vehement opposition. Old celluloid, sprockets and popping sound technology must make way for newer clean and efficient digital equipment. Like it or not, digital technology is here to stay. Science usually prevails. With more efficient lamps and projector equipment, we will be seeing our favorite movies (and newer movies) in bigger formats with better sound and picture. I was opposed to movies on VHS years ago and now I have a massive legal DVD collection. For now think back to Jolson who said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

kimmyt on August 5, 2004 at 4:32 pm

I am looking for a current list of theatres that already have the D-Cinema system. I’m also interested in all manufacturers and facilitators of this equipment.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your posts… very imformative. Thank you.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 6, 2004 at 8:36 am

Dear atifilmgrl – the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood is the only one I’ve heard of for sure. You can check out that theater on this site. Best wishes

Adam on October 24, 2004 at 8:24 pm

I second ‘Bradley K’ for his views on opportunities for opening cinema theaters in New Zealand. I am working on the same for last few months. Can any one of you give me an idea on where can I get a sample business plan (template)on Movie theaters. I have looked on the net, but difficult to decide which one would be the right one. Of course, heaps of work will be required to do on the sample business plan. But its good to start with a good sample plan…any recommendations?
cheers, Adam, New Zealand

tordavis on November 21, 2004 at 10:27 pm

Do you have to license a DVD if you are showing it for free?

RayKaufman on November 21, 2004 at 11:24 pm

Tordavis, your answer is in the frontice piece on every DVD, which reads something like, “This DVD is for the personal or private home use of the holder and is not for public exhibition …” This means, simply put, a DVD is not for screening, free or for pay, without obtaining the “License” for public exhibition. Said license is issued by the holder of the “Exhibition” rights, usually known as the “Distributor.” And then, there are two types of distributors for each work. One grants “theatrical” rights, and another “non-theatrical” rights. Theatrical exhibition is for the public-at-large and the screening is advertised to them. Non-theatrical exhibition is to closed, non-general public groups, such as schools, hospitals, planes, prisons, library’s and the screening is only promoted within the group, not publicly. Whether there is a charge for viewing doen’t enter into obtaining rights and licensing.

Keep in mind too, that exhibition rights are not tied to the medium used. It makes no difference if the piece is a 35mm or 16mm print, or a VHS tape or DVD.

rroberts on November 22, 2004 at 5:31 pm

To add a little more from WGT: We manage several movie theatres and the rules governing ANY exhibition of a movie are now being enforced vigorously. No public showing of a movie is legal without permission. Period. The cost for admission is not the issue. Free showings still require a “license” even if it is for a one shot deal. Libraries and schools are getting nailed by copyright “stoolies” and rightfully so. Theft is theft even if the perpetrator didn’t know better.

sanjaykumarsingh on December 4, 2004 at 2:33 pm

i want to make a film so i also wnnt to know the number and loction
io digital halls in india.

ribhu on February 6, 2005 at 4:19 pm

India and Brazil cinema have gone a long way in converting to digital, in fact in India distributors are taking the lead to help finance the conversion. Estimated 42% revenue leakage due to piracy and a vast geographical spread are driving the business case for digital adoption in India. Non-metropolitan areas containing more than 60% of the population are served by B-grade movie theatres that receive second-run prints usually six weeks after initial release. As a result all new movies from Bollywood are converted to digital format by the distributors and downloaded to e-cinema theatres around the globe! I am working on a business case to establish an e-cinema multiplex in Canada to screen Bollywood movies and to promote small budget Canadian and international films. I am convinced there is a strong business case, but since I’ve never been exposed to the theatre business I do not understand the costs and revenue structure. If any of you folks managed to put together a business case would really appreciate it you could share it with me. Thanks so much!

rroberts on February 7, 2005 at 8:43 am

News flash… some studios are now looking at independent cinemas that do not show first run films as “candidates for limited digital licenses.” This would allow small cinemas to use digital projection to show old movies to the public under special licensing agreements. FINALLY the digital age might have arrived for movies in a small way. Stay tuned!

pracsamps on March 13, 2005 at 2:09 am

Is there any D-Cinema theatre in India?

rroberts on March 13, 2005 at 5:42 pm

Of course. D Cinemas in the three major cities. Very expensive.

jroy on March 28, 2005 at 10:34 am

I am looking to have a small theater fifteen seats with a 110" screen. The draw would be for kids parties, boxing matches, video games and other sporting events. The theater would be rented out to an individual on an hourly basis. Obviously the HDTV events may require certain agreements with the provider. However by just renting the room, like someone would rent a house for a wedding and not providing the DVD or video games, would there be a licensing agreement required for the DVDs or video games. I view it similar to someone renting a movie and having friends over to see it. The theater would not provide the movie or games just the equipment.

rroberts on March 28, 2005 at 11:11 am

Dear Joey Roy: We have just such a theatre in Wheaton. It holds 150 people. We currently do what you request. It is a complicated formula for use as it is open to thep ublic. Even for private showings one must pay royalties. Call us. Paul @ (630) 221-0667

crbear on June 10, 2005 at 2:00 pm

Can anybody advise on how to get Public Exhibition rights or open showing licenses however you want to call them … for a single DVD? I want to open a small cinema/cafe in Barbados showing mainly independent and foreign films… how do you get to know which film distributor is relevant to which licenses should be paid to??? and for that matter it seems that distributors change depending on which country the film gets distributed… is there a source person or company linked to a movie? I am starting to get a bit desperate…

RayKaufman on June 11, 2005 at 6:12 am

Good starting point is whoever is listed as the distributor of the DVD. Chances are, they also still control the “exhibition rights” if the movie isn’t too old. A call to them and whoever handles licensing, should get some answers. Otherwise, go to the website, under “company credits” to see who the then listed distributor in whichever country, is listed. Film exhibition is a business, not a hobby, which means some effort is involved. Not trying to be a jerk here, but I suppose that’s why it’s called “work.” Once you get the hang of it, after a few calls, it gets easier. Now, whether or not they’ll grant you the rights, with ongoing certanty, that’s a different matter entirely. Good Luck and let us know.

CarlSRoos on October 11, 2005 at 6:19 am

Can anyone offer any information regarding where the market is in releasing the licensing rights to distribute mainstream Hollywood blockbusters online in digital format? I am in the process of drawing up a business plan to start an online rental (pay-per-view) website where people can download blockbusters in digital format, obtain a license to play the content which then expires after a certain period. I am finding it very difficult to find out whether this sort of license is available at the moment and if so who to contact for further info. Any info would be a great help. Thanks in advance.

RayKaufman on October 12, 2005 at 7:38 am

I suspect if there are to be any digital online downloads of feature films, first, it is in the very, very, very distant future and second, it will be done by the major studio distributors themselves; not by anyone else. There’s far too much at stake to allow it to be done otherwise. In fact, we’re talking about the continuing existance of this country’s major entertainment form. I seriously doubt the studio’s/distrib’s would give up DVD’s in favor of digital downloads at this point in time. There’s just too much money to be made with their sales and rentals. Notice, I wrote of sales first, followed by rentals. That’s the opposite of the experience with VHS 15 to 20 years ago.

Unlike music labels and producers, which have lost the battle with downloads and consequently, the demise of a major industry, (much of this caused by their ineptness and assumption they could continue in their old ways of putting out mediocre albums having but one hit single, and charging $14+,)the film industry invented exhibition and has and will continue to protect it at all costs. To do otherwise, will see its rapid collapse. Put another way, no one will put up the 50 million plus dollars to make a film, and a near like amount to market it, on the gamble of at least breaking even, without some assurance of at least making those millions back.

In short, there’s much more at stake here than with a band, putting up there own money, to produce a CD and get it to the populace via internet.

egyptian01 on March 12, 2006 at 6:47 pm

hi … we are currently looking into opening a theater restraunt…probably having 2 screens that seat up to 50 people each….how do you go about movie licensing?….how much do they get average for each showing?….are there any grants out there to help out?….and what would be the average cost of something like this(just the theater part)….if anyone could help out with any information that would be great… thanks

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