How to increase revenue question….

posted by popcornn on September 25, 2006 at 4:31 am

Hello, I am considering purchasing a fully operational local theater that I am being offered. It’s a Quonset hut design (built in the late 1940’s) and single screen with just over 400 seats, concession stand, a couple of washrooms and a 12x12 separate (but attached) storefront. There is a stage infront of the screen. The building is very cool and retains all art deco styling.

It’s a popular theater and shows previously released films twice a night…one at 7:15pm and a different one around 9pm. It’s in a fairly trendy neighborhood that caters to the younger crowd.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what other uses this place could have during the daytime hours? Also, a 12x12 storefront…any ideas? This is the only private theater in town and is well advertised….all I want to do is continue with the same operation (2 films for 5 bucks) but want to increase the bottom end. I am open to any insight! Thanks!

Comments (30)

IanJudge on September 25, 2006 at 6:06 am

If the neighborhood is trendy, consider selling premium coffee and teas, and then have that available in the daytime with a seating area in the storefront area. Make it movie themed, and perhaps arrange with a local bakery to sell quality snacks.

Or, perhaps if your town/city is open minded, you could have a small cocktail bar.

As for the afternoons, I would contact your local CofC and see if they know of any local places that need meeting space – you could
always rent out the auditorium.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 25, 2006 at 7:01 am

You might also consider adding a family matinee on weekends.

JodarMovieFan on September 25, 2006 at 8:02 am

And where is this theater located and is it listed on Cinema Treasures? Does it currently have its own website?

ggates on September 25, 2006 at 10:46 am

Try a series of films geared to senior citizens, if the neighborhood has a senior center, maybe you’ll get some interest. Or a tie in with local merchants to rent the theatre for a matinee, free tickets distributed throught their stores. They may want to set up tables in the lobby to hand out flyers for in-store sales. If you can come up with 20 merchants who would pay you $50 weekly for the rental….there seems to be some potential.

JoshCaudle on September 25, 2006 at 10:48 am

For your daytime use issue, I would call your local schools and churches and establish a relationship so that when you play films that are appropriate for those groups that you contact them for private shows. Private shows are a great source for income!

As for the storefront, as you mentioned young people, consider putting in a run of arcade game. I personally can’t stand this “Dance Dance Revolution” game but its BIG time with people up to about 24 years old.

If you wanted to go more upscale, you could establish a waiting room with wireless WI-FI and try the coffee/tea idea from above, but if its young and trendy, then you already for sure have a coffee house nearby.

I don’t have much faith in doing upscale coffee/tea at my theatres…you’ll try it, but you’ll find if you’re in a trendy area with kids, they only want brand names. And if you get a balance of ages, then they always want some accessory that it costs you money to have (Cream, low fat milk, skim milk, non fat milk, soy, sugar, sweet and low, equal, splenda, cane)..its a headache!

Good luck!

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 25, 2006 at 2:11 pm

a few questions and then i can give some tips ….DONT GIVE OUT CITY OR NAME OF THEATER TILLY OU CLOSE ON PROPERTY)


popcornn on September 25, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Thanks for your comments so far. The theatre is located near a major grocery store and in a neighbourhood that caters to a younger ‘rental’ crowd…kind of like a village in a medium size city. The lobby is fairly tight for space, but there is an outdoor area that is still on the property (under the marquee and near the ticketbooth). As for the theatre on this site, no, not yet. Family matinees is a good idea as there are quite a few single parents in the area. Senior movies is a good idea too…especially if one could network with the retirement homes.

This may be a stupid question, but what is a ‘film festival’? I’ve been told that film festivals are a lot of work to organize, but can really pay off.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 25, 2006 at 5:23 pm

TRY TO RENT AS CHURCH space sun mornings
rent weekdays to a dance studio is the best use of space

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 25, 2006 at 5:25 pm

in your 12x12 storefront put in a RETRO CANDY store

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on September 26, 2006 at 12:40 am

I would describe a film festival as a series of films linked with a common theme, advertised to attract an audience that would like to see them all. You might book a group of classic films, and run a different one every day and call it a “Classic Hollywood Festival”, for example. More complex festivals would involve independant film not yet released, that are run in series with the presence of the Directors or Producers. Or by invitation, amateur productions that are hoping to find a distributor. This would more than likely require presentation in 16mm. It would also be the harder to organize and require the time to make contacts in colleges around the country, for film. I like longislandmovies ideas of church rental and retro candy store.

JohnMessick on September 26, 2006 at 2:01 am

longisland does have some great ideas. You might want to contact Richard Wolfe at the Roxy theater in Northampton Pa. He is a very successful operator.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 26, 2006 at 4:12 am

Here’s one example of a film festival held in a single-screen theatre about the same size as yours:

Belmont World Film, at the Studio Cinema in Belmont, Mass.

popcornn on September 26, 2006 at 4:23 am

Regarding ‘retro candy’….I can imagine the nickel and dime stores of the 50’s and so on…is that the kind of thing you are thinking? Are there suppliers out there who carry the types of products you are thinking? Thanks again

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 26, 2006 at 5:47 am

There are when you close on the theater i will give you leads in your area…. very high margins on retro candy ……..

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 26, 2006 at 5:53 am

dance studio can be very nice daytime money …and sat am

popcornn on September 26, 2006 at 5:20 pm

About matinees- what sort of promotions would be customer generating yet profit making? I look at a lot of major companies who offer 2 for 1 deals and buy one at regular price-get a second for half price and think….hmmmmm….could something like this work in a privat theatre? Like if I want to attract moms and kids (or dads) to an afternoon matinee is it feasible to have something like the kid gets in free with a paying adult, or the parent buys a popcorn and the kid gets one for free? Where is the profit to be made in theatre operation? Is it in concession sales, or ticket sales, or both?

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 26, 2006 at 5:30 pm


NativeForestHiller on September 26, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Good lick with your project, “Butternut73!” I recommend that you contact my friend Glen Leiner of the Art Deco Society of NY. He always has wonderful suggestions when it comes to restoration & adaptive reuse. Please tell him Michael referred you. He can be reached at

NativeForestHiller on September 26, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Sorry for the typo. I meant to say “luck” in my opening line.

popcornn on September 27, 2006 at 2:05 pm


Thanks for clarifying….I thought you were hitting on me. lol

As for an update, I am still waiting for the last 3 years financial statements. Land and building alone is worth what we agreed on in terms of price…so the ‘business’ is a bonus, plus, it’ll be a really fun operation to take on!

Craigadams11 on September 27, 2006 at 3:26 pm

They shouldn’t put the “I” and the “U” so close together on the keyboard?? Shame on you Ben Franklyn!!

EmpireTheatre on September 29, 2006 at 1:13 am

Try offering a daytime screening of whatever you show nightly, and promote to moms and dads with infants and youngsters that can’t make it out at night. Parents should be encouraged to bring their children, offer diaper changing areas, make it mom and dad friendly, on some weekdays and on weekends. Make it so their not uncomfortable if their baby starts crying during the film. You’ll probably have to crank up the volume up a little. You could also consider bringing a childcare expert in to address the parents after the show and answer questions. I own a seasonal theater at a New England beach resort, everyone’s at the beach during the day, so this wouldn’t work for me, but it might for you.

popcornn on September 29, 2006 at 2:16 pm

Thanks, Gary. That is one of the ideas I’m kicking around. Also, I am wondering if I could partner up with a non-profit society and let them have free run of the theatre (except the concession) for a fund raiser by raising money with ticket sales. Of course I would get the P.R. and all concession sales, but they would ensure the house is packed for their fund raiser…I’d make the money off the food sales so it’d be a win-win for both. I think…

James Fisher
James Fisher on October 10, 2006 at 5:25 am

Well that idea of the belmont studio is best i use to run that cinema and it also had a 12 by 12 store front which was a barber shop gone bad so i mad it the managers office
I too have many idea and succesful plans i would love to be in show business again unfortanutly i dont have the cash to get me back so now iam working for the entertainment giant of the world yes! WAlT DISNEY WORLD

jukingeo on November 7, 2006 at 8:27 am

Hello, I agree with LONGISLANDMOVIES.

A 12 by 12 area is really a small space to rent out and use as a shop…however, for an expanded concession area with also access to the front for street traffic, well that is an idea that is hard to pass up on. You could not only have retro candy, but specialty items as well..sort of like a cafe. This would increase interest on both street traffic and also for the movie-goers. What more is that you can keep the cafe/concession open during times that you are not showing a movie.

In addtion, if you have a stage and a backstage area…then you are set for live shows. Live shows will always bring in more revenue than any single screen movie theatre can. You are in a good size bracket with 400 seats (of course this does really depend on the town population too) because you do have to take into consideration that even though you may not always fill the theatre, you still have to heat and cool the whole building. This was a situation I ran into in a place I wanted to buy in Ohio. It was also an Art Deco masterpiece with a beautiful neon and bulb marquee. But it was just too darn big. At close to 1000 seats in a town of about 10,000…well, filling the seats did become a major concern. With it’s massive heating and cooling system, programming that would ensure a full house would be paramount. Even then it was a shaky situation. Well, someone else managed to sneak under me and get the place before my research was complete. But with a building of 400 seats…you should be good, even in a small town. But if you want to pack it…go live shows along with movies. Try to have a live act in there at least one to two weekends a month. That should do it.


James Fisher
James Fisher on November 7, 2006 at 3:21 pm

12 by 12 is big enough to rent out as a bagel shop have some generated income coming in monthly with out putting it out secondly u make all your money in conccession nothing at the box office for you have to pay for the rental of the film and the film companys also get a % off box office takes exmp. first run movies start off at approx 15,000 up front cash and most take 75% box office on first run sub runs you can pick up film fromt he companys for as little as 200. and they share 10% box office so there is alot to consider and i have been on that road and iam heading back down that road looking for partner or partners with capitol operating expences if you have the building and need a hand i can assist you with getting started and all iam open and 110% honest i have tryed alot of things i even opened and operated a pizzaria for 10,000. in the same building and then sold it for 50,000.making 3-5,000 aweek
well if ya have questions drop me and email i dont like to leave all the ttrick of the trade in public cause to many people twist and turn ideas and make them there own but i have been there i operated 9 houses with 26 cinema houses in all

ssteve on November 23, 2006 at 10:46 am

Geo, if you read this, please contact me at I would like to talk to you about the theatre you wanted to purchase. I have a feeling it’s the one we just purchased. Would love to talk to you about your thoughts on the building and it still could be possible for you to purchase it if you are still interested. Thanks, Teresa

jukingeo on November 24, 2006 at 10:37 am

Hello Teresa,

I responded to your email. I delved into more details there. Naturally I hope you understand that I don’t want to delve into specifics here about the sale of a theatre here. I opened up my mouth once before too big in the past and got in trouble for it. So I learned not to discuss theatre transactions openly here. Take a peek at your email and we will take it from there.


popcornn on December 18, 2007 at 8:01 am

Hey LongIslandMovies….contact me! Thanks

Dramatrauma on May 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Butternut73 Ive been looking all over CT but still cant find a name and locale for you theater. Hows it going whats happening wheres the website? I like supporting indy houses that’re too far away from me by buying swag so if youve gotta zazzle or cafepress post a link!

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