What I need to start a second run theater

posted by griff2197 on October 3, 2006 at 6:51 am

Where can I get an itemized list of equpiment and pricing to start a second run theater or does someone have one? Just looking for general info right now, mainly the dollar amount to get up and running and some idea of what the total monthly operating cost would be (minus the facility) and specifically what equipment would be needed at a bare minimum. HELP!

Comments (29)

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on October 3, 2006 at 10:34 am

Hello Griff. I, too, am in the same position as you. Where are you located? I’m in Orange County, southern California, and am looking for a place to re-open with (preferably) British films, especially in nthe catagories of “second run, art, independant etc. My e-mail is Perhaps we can help each other? -Simon

picson66 on October 3, 2006 at 3:55 pm

Might be worth a call to Classic Cinemas chain in the Chicago suburbs. They run some very successful second run theatres as well as their first run. They have a wonderful family owned large operation. I think their headquarters are in Downers Grove, Illinois. Some of their Theatres are the Tivoli in Downers Grove, the Ogden 6 in Naperville and Charlestowne in St. Charles as well as a number of others. Odgen 6 is a wonderful 6 screen theater with second run (often still first run at the big chains) and charges $3.00 admission with the bonus of free refills on all size popcorn and sodas. They also send out weekly e-mails to those who sign up for all upcoming movies with times and an occasional free popcorn coupon. They have a nice website also at http://www.classiccinemas.com/

ssj335 on October 3, 2006 at 7:21 pm

i’ve been wondering this same thing. what are the costs? how does one rent a 35mm for showing and what does that cost? license? etc etc?

KenLayton on October 3, 2006 at 9:36 pm

All these questions are answered in the FAQ at the forums of www.bigscreenbiz.com

ggates on October 5, 2006 at 7:07 am

I’d agree with Ken, check www.bigscreenbiz.com for all the answers you might need.

James Fisher
James Fisher on October 10, 2006 at 7:17 am

Well folk i have a detailed list of all needs and pricing fropm when i reopened a theatre that was closed for over a year i am currently in Florida if ya like drop me a line

mocinema on October 10, 2006 at 7:59 pm

Hello James,

can you send me the details to me at


ssj335 on October 10, 2006 at 8:21 pm

yeah a list like that would be very helpful

is my addy


James Fisher
James Fisher on October 10, 2006 at 11:07 pm

First off i would need to know if there is anything in the building now like conccession , seat, projection room , bathroom fixtures ie ect.. i have a list but i need to have a general idea

griff2197 on October 11, 2006 at 12:12 am

Has all the things listed but is in a state of disrepair, I can do the initial building maintenance myself. But any list you have with pricing would be greatly appreciated. Email is if anybody has anything

ssj335 on October 11, 2006 at 4:33 am

yeah everything is there. i think the projectors are a bit older. the seats are in good condition. one screen has a rip in it that should be repaired or replaced with a new one. concession is there.

James Fisher
James Fisher on October 11, 2006 at 9:10 pm

well depending on the rip[ io would repair it for the time being i took over one cinema and i had painted the wall with some special paint and never knew it was painted have you chit chated with the owner to see what they might be looking for <<i was a Manager / Projestionist and i am machhanicaly incline i have my own constrution company now i have opened three years now

ssj335 on October 11, 2006 at 9:28 pm

could u send me a list of the various costs and things to take into consideration. still very new to the whole thing but would love to be able to throw a business plan together. never have attempted anything like this before – need to know my next step. :) thanks

ggates on October 12, 2006 at 4:54 am

How much are the annual property tax bills on the building you have in mind? What part of the country is it located in, and is it a multi screen, or single? Are you considering buying a free standing building, or signing a lease?

moxiegretl on October 12, 2006 at 1:19 pm

I would also appreciate any advice and info – my husband and I were just discussing opening up a cinema drafthouse in Milwaukee, WI. We are starting to do research at this point, so we know nothing!! I’m not too sure how much we are interested in doing a franchise, though, unless that would be our best option.

Thanks! email addy –

ssj335 on October 12, 2006 at 2:36 pm

i can tell u more about the lease and taxes and location if u email me

rather not give out details such as location especially :)


James Fisher
James Fisher on October 12, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Well i have 18 years of running Cinemas / Theatre all in the North east so i know the in and outs i use to book my own films and come up with new ideas i turend one of my cinemas in to a dinner theatre while another was center for holiday partys so i might be able to help in several ways
if anyone is interested in plans

netsinc on November 2, 2006 at 7:28 am

If anyone needs equipment or parts I can get them with prices. Just e-mail a list of what you may need

ggates on November 2, 2006 at 10:55 am

We’d like to read some followup success stories from the many requests for information on how to open a theatre, that are asked of this board on nearly a weekly basis. Surely one of the many folks must have had a serious interest, and followed through? Come on, tell us your result stories.
Did anyone get beyond the dreamer stage?

ssj335 on November 2, 2006 at 2:41 pm

im wondering the same thing

James Fisher
James Fisher on November 5, 2006 at 5:55 am

Yes i did get to the part of opening a inema i have the outline of aoll needed however if anyone is interested and is for real i can give ya a hand it takes alot of equipment if there is none and if you have to open one from ground up it can be costly as much as $60,000.–$160,000 depends on land and area its best to find one that is closed or been closed just need to think hard of where and how to do things if anyone is serious drop me a line

ssj335 on November 5, 2006 at 9:59 am

im very serious in fact :)

if u might have any suggestions to help.

i’ve found a closed cinema – the equipment is still there but the projectors are kind of old. The seats are all there and in good shape, concession is there too with a popcorn maker it looks like. Don’t know how good it is. It’s a good location but the lease seems expensive. There are all sorts of costs that I don’t know about.

Don’t know what steps to take next but making a business plan would be a good start but I don’t really know how. Or how to get that kind of money – business loans I suppose.

picson66 on November 5, 2006 at 10:50 am

To build a business plan, begin with your public library. I am not sure what business model a movie theatre would fall under but would probably have both retail and service orientations.

In any plan, you will need an overall goal of what you want to accomplish. Then start with a brainstorming session of all the needs you can think of for your location. When you approach for financing, you will need to support how you arrive at your estimates. There is often free busienss plan help from anorganization of retired businessmen. You can usually find out about it through the library or local community college.

Make sure that you check with you local government entities about the location you are thinking of leasing. Find out about about all the code requirements you will be subject to as a new owner. The building/planning department and fire department should be able to provide current code information and probably have past reports.

Always remember that the fixed costs of hardware are the easy ones to estimate and control. It is the costs that can be highly variable that are too often underestimated. Lease, labor, insurance, advertising. Labor costs can be affected by a variety of things such as type of projection equipment and how automated it is, hours of operation for the theatre, and the availability of local help.

If you aren’t in a rush, try a business management class at a community college that includes a project of building a business plan. I have a friend who is an assistant manager of a theatre who is going to do just that. Although he has worked at the theatre for 6 years, he has found that his knowledge is only of his own theatre and equipment and is having to do research on different options. I know he has been talking to his local projectionists to gain insight into other equipment. The projectionists sometimes like the older equipment since that keeps their job.

James Fisher
James Fisher on November 5, 2006 at 12:47 pm

well ok ill tell you what i can help you out but ya will need to email me and leave me ya number ill call you

ggates on November 6, 2006 at 5:43 am

Somebody else on this board thought they could play DVDs on a big screen, in a bar or restaurant, and call it a dinner theatre. Anyone have any opinions on whether the film companies would care about film cost?

KenLayton on November 6, 2006 at 8:28 am

That is something that a film booker or studio rep could answer.

picson66 on November 6, 2006 at 3:10 pm

The future of movies will be all digital. With high speed internet links, there will ultimately be no need for even sending disks. This will help control counterfeiting through the use of encryption so only the intended receiver can show it at their theatre. There is too much cost involved in traditional film duplication, handling and storage.

Don’t get me wrong though. I hate digital today. They need to put some of the traditional film glitches into it to make it realistic. Just like digital music which has been all cleaned up from the actual recording, it just isn’t the same.

Good thing is that old equipment will continue to decrease in price while theatres going digital upgrade and as long as film is still around. This can also create a new business opportunity for those people who fixed and maintained projection equipment to support the small theatres around the country.

James Fisher
James Fisher on November 6, 2006 at 6:31 pm

yeah you cant do that its copy written you must get a licence to have a dinner theatre i had turned one of my cinemas in to a dinner theatre did real well buttttttttt

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