Re-Opening a historic single-screen, but need help!

posted by bannanchip on April 28, 2008 at 7:45 am

There is a historic one screen theatre that closed last week due to bankruptcy and I am very seriously considering purchasing and re-opening it. But I need some guidance to figure out how I can make it a viable operation. I have all the information about the business and the building but I’m not sure whether to spend money on fixing it up right away or not. Also whether to run first run movies or go with films that have been out a couple weeks.

It has almost 300 seats. It’s in a small community that supports and wants this theatre. It’s not in terrible shape but has some issues. I see it as a very viable business opportunity, not to mention how nice it would be to keep in the community!

Comments (9)

KenLayton on April 28, 2008 at 8:00 am

First thing is to jump over to and read-read-read everything there.

quasimodo on April 28, 2008 at 10:30 am

Ken’s advice is good. Many before you have had the same aspirations and questions.

I know there are many reasons why theatres don’t perform to their maximum potential, but the word “bankruptcy” should send up a red flag. I doubt that a single screen theatre in a small town represents a very viable business opportunity, but this should not dampen your enthusiasm if you’re prepared to eat, sleep and breath the business, or if you have a day job that can help pay the bills.

The type of programming you pursue will depend on factors such as demographics, nearby competition, etc.

You may also want to consider forming a 501c3 corp and trying to garner community support for a non-profit operation and restoration project.

Best of luck.

bannanchip on April 28, 2008 at 10:57 am

thank you two for the input.

What I can tell you is that I ran the theatre that went bancrupt for two years, until 2006. There are two bigger cinemas (6 and 8 screens, respectively)around this area—each about 15 miles away.

The word bancrupt does not scare me, in fact it makes my interest even greater since I should be able to get the theatre a decent amount below what I was going to pay for it 2 years ago.

This is a very viable operation, even with the first run movies that this theatre has gotten the last 6 years. The problem is, keeping a movie for 4-6 weeks really hurts the business and does not create interest within the community. So I’ve been really thinking about how to run it more efficiently…I would like to have second runs of movies—kids movies work best in this town, but also to regularily show classics from long ago, westerns I think would be a big hit, really old cartoons, and newer oldies (from the 80’s and 90’s). I’d like to keep charging a low admission price (around $3) because I know that concessions are where the profits are.

I have been thinking about digital projection, but I think at this point we need to stick with the brenkert 35mm.

I’ve read so much from for over 2 years now I really feel like I have a good idea of what needs to be done.

So what I’m looking for are other’s thoughts about my ideas. If anyone has any suggestions to add, or to criticize my thoughts. Any feedback is helpful. Thanks!

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on April 28, 2008 at 11:05 am

Go to…There are theaters there playing 1st run with new pics every 2 weeks.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on April 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm

You might think of offering a variety of “themed” films, including seasonal, noir, musicals, comedy, sci-fi, epics… on a daily basis for a maximum of a two week engagement… plus alternating times so as to attract kids early in the day and adults at night.
Depending what type of city and WHERE you are located, you might check on San Francisco’s because they have survived 80 plus years because of their fabulous programming AND showmanship!!!
Re-open with a splashy night of red carpet treatment, sky searchlights, wear a tux, greet everyone, free FRESH popcorn, invite some celebrities and press/tv, make it reservations only etc.
I hope your stage has curtains… USE THEM (bare screen =UGHHH), personally introduce the show, have a door prize (free return tix for two) each night.
I’m jealous with envy and really hope you make it!!!

bannanchip on April 29, 2008 at 10:05 am

I like your ideas of the opening night bash. You better believe I am getting a big, red, fluffy curtain to unveil the screen at every show!

My biggest concerns are to keep patrons during the winter months, when everything seems to go dead in this community.

James Fisher
James Fisher on June 27, 2008 at 1:33 am

Well ok lets cut to the chase i have opened several sub run theatres and well you need to look hard at the surroundings what is it that people see in the movies is this a place to screw a round , have fun , date, make love, questions quistions . first runs cost money but yeah you have to have them certain amount of weeks sub runs can break you unless you find a venture to sell sell sell consseccions profits work for a short time you need a happy medium and verity

cahammoaz on July 3, 2008 at 12:42 am

i may have some leads here for you also


promoterjohn on September 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Hello Im a promoter looking for a home. I put on shows for over 25 years. I also am related to a very famous old time movie star. I know how to get customers and to promote shows . I can make things happen and make money. Thats all I can promise. If you want to talk call me anytime. 716 692 5735 John

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