Are you, Can you, Will you, When?
“Are you going to play _________________?”
“Will you have___________________?”
“Can you get ______________?”
“When will you know what’s playing _______________?”
These are some of the most frequently asked questions now that we are open here at the Palace. The honest answer to these questions in most cases is legitimately, “I don’t know…”
I know it is a little hard to wrap your mind around, but “houses” as we are known in the industry do not always get to pick all of the films we show. We also do not know far in advance ,what we will have, or when something will come here.
Because of the complex dynamic of the industry as a whole, it’s hard to really understand the politics of it all. Here’s a basic “why” explanation:
It starts with the studios. Studios invest millions in these films. None of them make movies they think will do poorly. Sometimes a high budget movie doesn’t do well for one reason or another and it was completely unseen. Take for instance, Jupiter Ascending. While we were in CinemaCon last year, Mila and Channing were there to promote this film. We saw clips from production and heard producers and studio executives push this film. We received SO MUCH marketing material. (You may have noticed the giant “poster” things on the wall). However, this film did so poorly in the box office that we did not get it. Alternatively, we never heard about Focus in CinemaCon, and it’s the #1 movie in the country. It’s all a numbers game and there’s no way to predict how movies do.
Studios (and their distribution companies) have the most leverage here. They want their films to be in theaters no matter what. Even if it’s not doing well. Because if it’s not in a theater, they are getting absolutely nothing. If it’s in a theater and one person is coming in, they are still getting something, even though the theater is losing money. Often, in order for them to give the bigger movies, we have to keep the movies that aren’t doing as well.
For example, last week, Paramount wanted us to keep Spongebob because it was the 2nd highest grossing film in our theater. The issue I had was that it was doing “well” but we also were only selling a few tickets per show time to it by the end because we had it for several weeks and it came out before we opened. It was doing comparatively well, but I knew that once we had a new kids movie in place, everyone would lose interest in Spongebob.
The next layer in this comes down to how well a movie is doing. Sometimes bookers will wait and see how a movie is doing before they put it in a specific market. Alternatively, if a movie is doing well in a specific theater, it may stay longer. Even though American Sniper had been out for a while, it did better than some of the newer movies here in Athens.
If movies are doing really well, we may not have room to bring in more than a couple new ones at a time. Some people have asked if we would be getting more than 1 new one each week. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. We got Chappie by itself. Lazarus came in alone. However, Focus, Duff and Cinderella all came in together.
“Can you get….” A lot of people have asked about the movie “Do you believe.” This movie is scheduled to release on March 20 in the top 1100 faith based markets in the country. We are not in one of those and as a result are not getting this movie on opening day. If it does well, like God’s Not Dead did, there’s a chance we will get it. We can ask about certain movies, but we can’t always get them.
We will for sure have big blockbusters, but how long we will keep them is uncertain. We’ve had people trying to make plans for movies three weeks in advance, but we just don’t know if a movie will stick around that long. Also, not all movies will have Thursday premiers. Furious 7 will. We will have it starting April 2.
“When will you know what’s playing……”
Our schedule is released Thursday nights. This is because our week runs from Friday (when new releases come out) to Thursday. We often do not know what movies will be in our theater or what we are losing for the week until Wednesday. We may end up holding over a movie that does really well Mon-Wed but was scheduled to leave or we may lose something in favor of something else. This is why we can’t tell you for certain what our showtimes/movies will be weeks in advance. We try to get our schedule out as soon as we can, and some weeks, we may able to have it by Tuesday or Wednesday, but more often than not it will be Thursdays.
We are trying to standardize our basic showtimes so that you will know we have certain hours. For right now, we are trying out a modified schedule where Friday/Sat/Wednesday we have early shows starting around 11. Monday/Tues/Thurs we start around 4. Sunday, we do afternoon matinees. We have tried all days at 11 and didn’t have enough interest in those, so we are trying this. If this isn’t beneficial we will try another modification until we get it right. In the summer, it will probably change all over again.
Hope this clears up some of the questions surrounding our scheduling and show times!