Hoff Theater to close in January

posted by CSWalczak on September 29, 2009 at 9:59 am

COLLEGE PARK, MD — The independent Hoff Theater located in the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland in College Park be be closing as a full-time cinema in January. Although subsidized by student fees, the theater is expected to turn a profit, but has been unable to do so for some time. The university has decided to turn it into a a rental facility for student and other groups. Student employees are concerned about the impending closure, and are organizing efforts to save it, in spite of competition from nearby multiplexes.

But the news saddened and shocked Hoff'‘ student employees, who learned about the expected closure of the theater as early as mid-August. They said they have been organizing efforts to increase revenue and hopefully reverse the decision, including a video competition and a “Save the Hoff” night. They are also reevaluating the movies they show and how they advertise them.

The employees, quoted anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the press, stressed that the Hoff is a campus landmark and a safe alternative to partying and drinking.

Read more at DiamondbackOnline.

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Comments (5)

CSWalczak on September 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I was sad to read this because although thousands of colleges and universities show movies on campus, this campus theater appears to be a fully functioning one. Not only only providing entertainment to the students, faculty and the surrounding community, it would appear to also offer a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how to actually operate a theater and confront the larger issues involved (booking, finances, advertising, etc.) – aspects of the business to which I doubt most young employees of the average multiplex really get any exposure.

danpetitpas on September 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I read the article about the theater on the student newspaper Website. The theater costs $233,000 a year to run. The student activities fund pays $150,000 a year, and the theater has not been coming up with the $83,000 a year to close the gap. Sounds like there’s something wrong here.

Also, I took a look at their schedule. The theater is closed Sundays and every other Monday, and a lot of the most popular movies, like Zombieland, Star Trek and Rocky Horror Picture Show are free, while they’re charging for films like Land of the Lost, Evangelion: 1.0, and Food, Inc. For October, they’re only listing a handful of movies and days opened, so it’s probably being used for other events.

I guess the University has to decide whether the theater is a business or a freebie for students – whether they want to give away its product or sell it.

Also, I love the last line of the story. The University doesn’t believe in free speech or the First Amendment since the “working” students are prohibited from speaking to the school press.

CSWalczak on September 30, 2009 at 1:54 am

Follow-up editorial in the campus newspaper:
View link

danpetitpas on October 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Interesting editorial. Sort of confirmed what I guessed. They have 20 people running movies people aren’t going to. Neither article indicated if these 20 people helped out at other events in the theater.

This is one of the problems with academic non-profits. No one is even interested in breaking even or making a profit until the funding runs out. Some of the students said they didn’t even know there was a theater on campus until this editorial ran. Other students commented that the theater was running movies with no one even in the auditorium. I guess it wasn’t anyone’s job to advertise its events.

JodarMovieFan on October 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Having attended U of MD in the 90s, I did see one movie here. I was thinking about the place in recent years and thought it had closed since it was not advertising in the Post like it used to. It wasn’t until this year, that I re-discovered it again. I remember when first run movies would come out they would have free showings the day or two days prior to its general release for some titles. If no one knows it exists to be open to the general public, who is going to come?

They do have competition by way of the recently opened and superior Regal Royale 14 across from PG Mall and the Academy 8 on the other side of Greenbelt. If they advertised, had a regular schedule and priced movies right, more would come.

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