It has been 2, 557 days since the first day we played our first new release movies. (We had played some older movies the previous few days for training and testing). The Kingsman and Fifty Shades of Grey. We’ve had so many wild experiences since then. It doesn’t feel like it’s been 7 years. We are still working through the to-do list we had when we opened. There are so many things we still want to accomplish.
The last two years have been a paralyzing blur. We have been at the mercy of the studios and their decision to ignore the “window” giving any theatrical exclusivity to exhibition. We have been faced with impossible decisions, making “best judgment” calls about the safety of our staff and customers. It’s been a lot.
We opened in a record breaking Box Office year. It was the highest grossing year in something like 16 years. 5 years later…. we experienced the single most catastrophic event the exhibition industry had ever faced and were down 90% in revenue. Keep in mind, that’s not PROFIT. That’s all of the money coming in. How do you pay 100% of your bills with 10% of your typical money coming in?
I can’t tell you exactly how many dollars we’ve donated to various causes. I can’t tell you how many free movies we’ve played. We don’t keep track of that sort of thing. Maybe we should. That’s not the legacy we want to leave. Instead, we measure our “success” on the impact we make on our community. To us, a community impact can happen from more than just a donation. We provide a platform for others to share their message. We have partnered with groups, organizations, and causes to raise money and awareness. We look for needs in the community and try to address those. We provide an opportunity for all of us to come together and make a big impact we wouldn’t be able to do alone.
We wanted to share some of our favorite community impacts from the last 7 years.
Boo & View:
Our favorite event is our Boo&View. This community Halloween event brings free movies to you to view in addition to the candy “Boo”ths set up in the lobby. Everything about this event is magic. It’s fun for families because older kids can participate. We love seeing the creative costumes. After the first year, we added a charity component and encouraged donations for various charities as admission. I’ll never forget Kevin’s face when he came to pick up the food for Coordinated Charities. He had been expecting to fit it all in his car, possibly in a box. It was so much more. We even convinced some of our government figures to dress up and collect tips that were donated as well. We plan to have the Boo&View this year, so mark your calendars for October 25! Maybe write it in pencil, though, a lot can change before then.
We’ve tried to find “themed” ways to help out various causes. One year, we challenged all of our customers to donate a quarter. If 1/4 of our average # of guests did this, we would raise over $5,000. We didn’t meet that goal, but we were able to raise quite a bit for them. They were shocked. It’s amazing to see how much we can do when we all do a little bit. Some of the most appreciative groups have been those who received the smallest donations. Those small amounts are huge to groups who get overlooked or aren’t as well known.
Early on, our Facebook family became integral parts of our process. When we needed help making decisions, we outsourced it to our followers. When it came time to open, it only made sense that we’d invite them first. Facebook fans had access to these exclusive Palace Royal shirts. The shirts gave them access to a preview day. We still do special things for those shirt owners. If you bring/wear your shirt this weekend (2/12/22-2/13/22) we will give you a free small popcorn! This was a way to create community and make sure this was more than just a place to watch movies. It’s OUR community theater.
We are part of this community and many of us went to our local schools. We’ve made sure we are able to offer an affordable option to schools so that they can bring their students to us. It’s so sweet when these kids visit a movie theater for the very first time. (Although, in a lot of cases, they are more excited about the bus ride at first). These trips are a lot of work and can be incredibly stressful, but it’s one of our biggest impacts.
We are constantly looking for ways to make connections with other things in the community. We’ve partnered with the local Arts Council and screened the movie version of the play they have going on. This Ogre Takeover was a great one for the kids. They could decorate cookies, get face paint, and take pictures with the cast! The local coffee shop brought green hot chocolate, too!
We love dressing up for movies. We haven’t had the chance to do it much the last couple of years, but hope to get back into it. We know dressing up makes the experience better for our friends and we have a blast. It creates such special memories for everyone and THAT is the legacy we want to leave.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this walk with us and hope you have your own stories about how you’ve been able to make an impact on our community by supporting the theater. We hope that this is just the beginning and we will be around for years to come.
Happy 7th Birthday, AMP!