Building a theater… how hard could it be? Just put in some seats, install some screens, wire up some speakers, get some popcorn, right?
Well. Yes and no.
What kind of flooring do you want…sloped or stadium? What material do you want the seats to be? Do you want seats that rock? Do the armrests need to move? How high do you want the backs? What color?! Should the seats be numbered? What company do you buy from?
What brand of popcorn? What size bags… the 35 pound will be easier to carry, but the 50 pound is slightly cheaper? What type of oil do you use to pop? Do you install popcorn warmers to keep the popped corn ready and more accessible? Do we buy multiple poppers in case we need a back up? Do we use self serve butter dispensers or the safer/cleaner option behind the counter? Do we serve the popcorn in a bag or tub? What size bag/tub? What color bag/tub? How much should the popcorn cost?
This is just a small sample of the types of questions that emerge from the most basic of theater decisions. With us not being affiliated with a corporate chain, all of these decisions need to be made by us. All of these decisions and many many more… some we don’t even know need to be made. Things you don’t even think about pop up: what kind of paper towels?
Some of these decisions might not sound like a big deal…who really cares what kind of paper towels we have? (Actually, mom cares. She won’t touch the brown ones because of their texture.) And while some of the little decisions won’t affect your experience overall, the decisions still have to be made. Then, you have to consider how all of these little decisions come together to give you an overall experience.
It can be… no. It is totally overwhelming. While some of the decisions are fun, others are just tedious and there’s so much pressure to make the best decision. So many factors come into play as well. Cost, quality, integration with our theme, source, functionality…the list goes on.
What about the straws? Naked or wrapped? Wrappers will be thrown around and are harder to stick in the cups in a hurry, often with one hand. Naked straws need special dispensers. What kind of dispenser?
It’s been a crazy process. I’ve never been particularly decisive, but this theater has taken my indecisiveness to a whole new level.
Like the day I met with our Coke rep to discuss the install of our machines. There’s the little details that we have 24 possible dispensers on the machines. All I really wanted in life was Cherry Fanta. That wasn’t an option. We knew we wanted to have some non-carbonated options. Especially because we aren’t sure how much room we will have for coolers for bottled options. We also had to have the standards: coke, diet coke, sprite…. So we sat down and went through them all and figure out what we think will work best.
And another thing! Prices?! In theory, you would take the cost of an item and your desired profit and make a price list. How would you approach this when you don’t know what your operating costs will be, especially considering we are a new theater and might not have the best position to negotiate with the studios for the films? We wanted to take our demographics into mind and make this something our area can afford while also maintaining a good relationship with the studios so that we can get the first run movies. Comparing prices with the closest “competition” isn’t always helpful. Our large might not be the same ounce as the Regal large. Then, they may have been able to buy a large order of cups driving their costs down compared to ours. Plus, the ticket prices aren’t totally negotiable. More on this in another post.
And while we are talking about tickets…do we want the receipt paper type or the cardstock? The cardstock ones are way prettier. However, the printers must be installed in the counters (which is a bit of a problem for us because we used real granite-I think it’s granite? counter tops- and are also SUPER expensive. The cardstock itself is also a huge cost. The receipt paper printers are more mobile and can be faster.
We have put so much into making sure this is what we all want…a place we can all enjoy and be proud of. It’s the kind of place that is unique to Athens. This will hopefully be a one of a kind truly exceptional experience. When it comes time for you to come into the building, you can look at all of the details with a new appreciation. You may have even played a part in making the decision.
For example, when we had a couple of different ideas for our nametags, we let our Instagram followers help pick the one they liked best. Facebook picked the colors they wanted for the Palace Royals shirts… (and they also picked their name: Palace Royals!).
One of the things that is most exciting about us not being tied to corporate rules is that we can really focus on adding little details that may get overlooked in a corporate setting where the focus is profit not an experience.
We hope that when you walk into the theater, you feel welcomed and happy. While the details might not matter to you individually, it should create an overall effect that cannot be replicated. From the moment you enter, either from the side of the lobby or through the bump out (where you walked past the LED screen, and drawbridge door), you will be captured by the design of the lobby. On a basic level, the high ceilings invite you to look up to our chandelier. We have a mix of hand painted details and 3D effects all around the lobby. You may notice something new every time you come in. (don’t forget to look behind you while waiting at the concession counter). The glass tile lining the concession area is a blast of vibrant colors. The only thing you may not like about the theater is the movie you watch and that’s beyond our control.