Theater Ownership 101?

posted by jsproducer2 on March 16, 2004 at 5:38 am

Is there an idiot’s guide-type book out there that explains what goes in to buying, restoring, and operating a theater?

Comments (11)

KenLayton on March 16, 2004 at 8:13 am

Yes, go to and read ALL of the Frequently Asked Questions on the forum. Also while you’re there do a search on the thread “Exhibition 101”.

mvfilmsociety on April 21, 2004 at 3:38 pm

Visit the British Film Institute’s web site (google the url), and they have an archived PDF on that subject.

adtv on May 1, 2004 at 8:27 am

Give David Blake Call at Stockport PLaza,UK.

rroberts on July 16, 2004 at 3:45 am

There is no experience like an old theatre owner as a consultant. With business licenses, zoning, movie licensing and transport, health department requirements, union concerns, hiring, firing, accounting, taxes, schedules and programming, etc. The service that a retired theatre owner or manager can provide is invaluable. NO quick guide will help. State by state and city by city each theatre has its own set of problems. Good luck. You may call me if you wish. (708) 867-6252.

spbtrading on August 24, 2004 at 7:47 am

I know NOTHING about the theater business and am looking for basic data on theater ownership in the United States. I want to know who owns and operates the screens and their respective market shares. Does anyone know of a resource?

rroberts on August 24, 2004 at 12:39 pm

Oh let me tell you. There are hundreds of people walking around who can advise you about the wonderful world of theatre. They can tell you how to purchase, restore, market, research, own and operate a theatre. Most own their own houses (like me) and unless they own a small outfit, they will not talk to you. Welcome to the real world. I love talking to new people in the business as long as they don’t open up a theatre in MY backyard! Call us up. (773) 685-3258. Or e-mail me:

stfl on August 27, 2004 at 7:39 am

I live in a small community in Michigan that is right on Lake Michigan, and we have a wondderful old movie theatre(maybe 50 to 75 years old), and the owners are now selling the business or business and property. There are no other theatres for 25 miles around, so business is good. The owners want to move to Florida. The property could be torn down for condo’s, but we want to preserve the business and property. Does anyone know of State/Federal/Private grants that are available for assistance in purchase and preservation of these old buildings and businesses? Websites? Persons/Associations to talk to? Thanks.

rroberts on August 27, 2004 at 8:27 am

The best way to save an old theatre is to find a group of investors to make the purchase. Have a local guy or gal in charge to watch the money. Then approach a local bank. Is the theatre historic? Can you restore it and use tax credits? How much does the city want the deal? What about parking? Then try and find an honest manager for the theatre by advertising. The difficult problem is always HOW to sustain an old movie theatre after you buy and restore it. Income and expense numbers and 5 year projections are essential! Do you show first runs? Festivals or old movies as revivals? Do a little live theatre with some concerts or musical evenings? The trick is to do a thorough marketing analysis of the neighborhood and see what the public wants. Too many theatres do it their way without regard to the population who will be the customer base. And always remember the children. THEY are your future audience. Consider after school programs and Saturday matinees. Call me if you wish. It is a tough business but well worth it if the community gets behind you. i am happy to advise and consult. R. Roberts (773) 685-3258.

mark01 on September 12, 2004 at 6:53 am

I can help with anything that has to do with the chairs.

FoxFan on September 18, 2004 at 10:44 am

If you need any help with re-opening or booking films – feel free to
email me anytime. I have 30+ years in the movie theatre industry and am going strong –

skittles02 on December 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

I am looking into puchasing an old theatre from 1931 and would love any help or input along this business adventure.

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