Lately, I’ve had a few complaints about our movie selections and the fact that we don’t know weeks in advance what we’ll be showing. So maybe the following will help our customers understand just what goes into booking films for a drive-in theater.
Unlike the multi-plex indoor theaters, we have two screens on which we play two movies. Our first feature is normally a “first-run”. That means we’re playing it on the night it opens. The second feature, or co-hit, is also a fairly new release. While it may have been out for awhile, it is still considered a first-run movie as it has not yet been released to the discount houses or on DVD. We utilize a film buyer, as he or she is called in our business. This person works on our behalf with the film companies to secure the film packages we play throughout our season.
Some film companies are great to work with, they will “play in the sandbox” with just about any other film company to create the film package. We pay, on average, 80% of the admission price in film rent to show their films on our screens. Unlike the indoor theaters, we’re limited as to the number of films we can play each week and we only have one showing every night. When new movies are released we have to negotiate with each film company for their movie, and sometimes we can’t make a deal with them because their film rent is too high for us to play their picture with another feature. Let’s be reasonable, we can’t pay 80% to one company and 40% to another company for film rent. 120% means we’d be chipping in money on each persons admission. The drive-in would be closed in about two weeks if we had to do that!
In the movie business, money matters. When we make a deal with the film companies they require us to play new releases for a minimum of two weeks. That creates a lot of limitations on what new releases we can play. It’s quite complicated, considering what new films are coming up and what films we believe will draw the most business. After all we have to make money to survive or why bother? Wouldn’t you agree? In addition when a film is really doing well, we’re inclined to keep the picture and pass on something that might not do as well, or have “legs” for the long-haul.
I understand that some folks are disappointed with our selections, and there’s an old adage that says…”you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.” That’s the life of drive-in movie theater owners, and we accept that. We’re trilled with our loyal customers and their understanding of our situation as well as their realization that drive-in theaters are a dying breed and at the same time a rare gem. (On a side note, with the age of digital arriving in 2013, many single screen operators will fold up for lack of funds.) Fort Collins has always been a wonderful and supportive town and Wes and I love this place. We plan to continue running this theater for as many years as our fans support us. We know not everyone is drive-in customer material, and we’re ok with that. We just hope that those of you who are will continue to support us. When you don’t, we’ll sell out to a developer and move on.
For now, see you at the movies!