Dallas Theatre closes

posted by CSWalczak on December 9, 2009 at 10:50 am

DALLASTOWN, PA — The current owners gave it a go, but low attendance and other factors have forced the Dallas Theater to close. The theater opened in 1927.

Dallastown didn’t know it was without a movie theater once again.

On Tuesday afternoon, film titles still lined the Dallas Theatre’s Main Street marquee. Last weekend’s showtimes hung out front. The only hint of a goodbye was a handwritten thank-you sign in the lobby beyond the locked doors.

Some residents knew things weren’t going well.

Read the whole story in the York Daily Record.

Theaters in this post

Comments (17)

GrandValleyHoldingsLP on December 9, 2009 at 11:21 am

This is disappointing. I did not have the chance to meet the Hunts. I’ve seen my business steadily increase in this economy. Hopefully, another operator can make a go of it. Always happy to advise!

danpetitpas on December 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Couple loses life’s savings on old single-screen downtown theater after 18 months. This is such a recurring news story, it should have its own category!

There’s a good reason why that quaint, old movie theater in your town has been closed for 20 years after the multiplex opened on the outskirts of town. Time has passed it by.

A lot of people have the fantasy of running an old movie theater, but the reality of the situation is about 99% of the job is not about movies. And gone are the days when people came downtown to shop or walk around, so your job of attracting people into your theater is even more difficult. In fact, you might wind up bearing the entire responsibility of trying to revitalize a town’s forgotten downtown area!

To succeed in running a single-screen theater, you have to be a pro-active promoter supreme handing out flyers, making deals with local merchants, and so forth. And you have to go beyond simply showing movies, probably getting a license to put on concerts and live entertainment and selling food, beer and wine. And after paying all your bills, you might have to be content with only clearing $20k, $30k, or $40k a year.

My advice is to do a heck of a lot of research before sinking your life savings into a theater, and then do even more research, because from the stories that come in through CT, it seems about 90% of these ventures fail within 12 to 18 months

mark edmunds
mark edmunds on December 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I was there recently very nice theatre. I know York is right up the street with the “box theatres” but how does the Glen Theatre survive and what are the other “factors”. Who is handling the sale and for how much?

danpetitpas on December 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

There is a much more revealing article about the realities of running a small-town theater at the York Weekend website.

When only 20 people showed up for GI Joe, the Hunts switched to classic films where only 10 people showed up for the Exorcist, 32 people showed up for The Wizard of OZ, and no one showed up for the Pebble and the Penguin even for $1 admission price!

quasimodo on December 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

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.

William on December 10, 2009 at 5:05 pm

In the days before home video going to classic films would have worked. But in this day and age it will only work in select markets. There is so many things to entertain at home, Home theatre systems, HD cable, internet. Running a theatre is alot of hard work and you need a VERY BIG bag of money to make it work.

GrandValleyHoldingsLP on December 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

Sorry for being a wart on the finger of failure!

Who in their right mind considers MEGAPLEXES, dvd, VOD, or any other half $ssed Shoe box experience the same as a fully functional Historic Theater?>

Instead of competing with the BlahBlahPlexes operators should focus on the Complete EXPERIENCE….from The Street, to the Exit to the Street….

It’s not hard, it just takes focus!!! (which many lack!)

redfoxseo on December 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm

It sad. A theatre in our hometown is closing as well, along with plenty of other businesses. It seems the economy has taken it’s toll.

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I don’t understand why you added those three links to your comment.

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on December 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Thank you for alerting us to this issue. “Tires” has been removed due to violating our terms of use and posting spam links.

donutman on April 5, 2010 at 10:42 am

I’m Bill,the current owner of the Dallas Theatre…I appreciate the kind words that people have posted,
we truly tried the best we could,we reached out to the community in every way humanly possible,we gave to every charity we could afford to give to,concerts were not a possibility because when showing new films you MUST have show times every sat and sun afternoon and every friday and saturday evening (and every other evening)it’s in your contract,when else could we have scheduled concerts (we tried and were told we couldn’t legally do it)

donutman on April 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

we also put out flyers and tried to make deals with local businesses,but everyone wanted money,and if you aren’t making any money you can’t give it away,we were showing new films at the lowest prices we could,we had our concessions as cheap as we could and we gave people a great experience from the curb to the the seats,but people still wanted to go to the multi plex because they had a)a parking lot b)more movie choices we had one screen only c)fancy rocking chairs we couldn’t afford new seats with our low attendance

donutman on April 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

single screen old style theaters certainly can succeed depending on what town you are in,if there are big theater chains near you (we had 2 first run multi plexes within 20 minutes of us and a 4 screen discount theater 5 minutes away and 2 more single screen theatres within 30 minutes of us,one of which is owned by a historical society that GAVE them over a million dollars to fix the place up,we didn’t have that blessing)
also if you are in a town with a population that cares about history you are fine…but we were in a town with a lots of young kids that didn’t care about history or affordable prices

donutman on April 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

it was a town that wanted brand new kids movies every week (which is impossible,brand new kids movies aren’t released every week) and they wanted fancy and shiny and new and didn’t mind paying twice the price for it at the box theaters

bottom line – if you have other incomes or a big savings account, or are in a town that cares about history, a single screen theater is a great business to own but if you aren’t personally wealthy or live in a town that doesn’t care about history no amount of begging or hard work will make it succeed – unfortunately we only learned this lesson after losing our life savings

hhspangler on April 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Bill & Tina:
We loved the theatre; my husband and I had gone many times. I wish you the best of luck.

TLSLOEWS on June 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Thats a sad story.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Bill and Tina,I can’t put into words,how i feel just to say I too wish you both the best in the coming years.

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