Movie Theater Manager

Movie Theater Manager


New York, NY

Male, 38

I own and run an independent 7 screen theater in NY. We deal with everything and anything involving movies, movie studios, customers, food, drinks, etc.

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22 Questions


Last Answer on December 11, 2018

Best Rated

You ever catch anyone getting it on in the back rows?

Asked by Chelsea about 5 years ago

Unfortunately yes we have.  A few times a year and it is so awkward.

I used to love going to movies, but home entertainment has gotten so good in recent years. How are you improving the movie-going experience to get people like me off the couch?

Asked by slowburn about 5 years ago

There are a large amount of people perfectly happy watching movies at home. Studios have tried to bring you out to the theaters by bringing 3D, and producing better films.  Also, about 95% of theaters in the U.S. have gone digital, which means a much better quality of the film.  Many theaters are replacing older seats with bigger, more comfortable seats.  Some of these new seats even recline to an almost flat position.  Also, you will continue to see more theaters offer a restaurant-like option, and alcohol.

As a small, independent theater, we offer entertainment value.  Families come to my theater because its a great way to keeps the kids happy for a few hours at a low price. The childrens films today are exceptional, as well as the "Super Hero" movies such as Avengers, Batman, Superman, Thor, Spiderman, etc.

Do you ever have people demanding their money back for movies they don't like, and do you oblige?

Asked by Lee about 5 years ago

Occasionally people will ask for their money back because they didnt like a movie.  They will not got any money back, but we may let them see another movie.

Is the thing in Fight Club where they still have to manually change the reels half way through movies true?

Asked by D3rAn3e about 5 years ago

This was true for movies prior to the invention of the platter.  The platter enabled projectionists to splice together the entire movie, which may have arrived in 2 or 3 reels.  The giant platters could hold the entire movie in one giant reel.  

There are very few theaters left that still use 35mm reels.  Most have converted to digital.  Movies now arrive on small hard drives or are sent over satellite directly to the theaters servers.

Popcorn seems like such a random food to serve at the movies (though I guess it's just assumed it's the standard now). Any idea how that started?

Asked by B.E.T. about 5 years ago

Popcorn wasn’t introduced to the general public as a snack food until around 1840, when it first made appearances at fairs, carnivals and rallies. In 1885, with the invention of the first portable popcorn machine, its popularity increased dramatically. Popcorn vendors followed the crowds, set up shop, and introduced popcorn neophytes to the joys of butter, salt, and crunch. It was a cheap and tasty hit.

As fate would have it, the popcorn boom coincided with the dawn of nickelodeon (or dime) theatres. Vendors, quick to spot an opportunity, sold their treats outside of the movies. Though patrons loved it, the mess left behind, the smell of the machines, and popcorn’s association with burlesque, irritated movie theatre owners, especially as the fancier theaters of the 1910s and 20s were built.

But as the Great Depression set in, and profits dropped, desperate owners sought new ways to make money. They noticed how lucrative the popcorn business was and installed machines of their own inside. Soon, concession stands were integrated into the designs of theatres. A movie and a bucket of popcorn became one of the main forms of entertainment for cash-strapped Americans well into the 1930s.

When the TV came along, and threatened the movie business once again, concession stands became as central to a movie theatre’s success as the movies themselves. And when sugar rations took hold during World War II, making candy no longer available at the movies, popcorn sales skyrocketed. By the time sugar was reintroduced to the public, the notion of popcorn at the movies had become ingrained in the minds of theater patrons everywhere.

Today, concession stand sales account for a whopping 40 percent of movie theatres’ net revenue. And while new snacks are constantly being introduced, popcorn endures.

Who makes the decision to open a movie in an 'INDEPENDENT' theater, and is it usually because a film can't get into a major theater chain?

Asked by Jimles about 5 years ago

Movie studios will generally release the biggest movies to almost all theaters, if they have room.  My theater gets just about all the new movies, except those that are released in "limited" runs.  These films will go to a select group based on what they percieve to be best for the film.

Any theater with at least 6 screens will generally choose what they want.  

what happens to all the posters and displays once a movie's done?

Asked by anonymous about 5 years ago

Usually they are trashed.  Occasionally an employee or a customer will get one if they are nice and persistent.

Why aren't movie schedules made only a couple days at a time? How are they decided?

Asked by anonymous about 5 years ago

All decision for what movies are kept and what movies are brought in to a theater are made on Mondays and are based on the weekend results.  For instance, the movie Frozen has been so successful that we have kept in for far longer than we anticipated.  Our booker managed to get Disney to allow us to split showtimes with another movie for the past 2 weeks.  The success of Frozen has thrown a wrench into our anticipated bookings because we never know until Monday what studioes will agree to splitting showtimes or allowing us to dump their movie.  Generally speaking, Studios expect a theater to keep a movie that has does well that weekend.

So, I may start making a schedule a week or two in advance but can't really submit until we have everything confirmed a few days in advance.

What's the markup on the concessions you sell? And what's the approx breakdown of how much of your annual revenues come from ticket sales vs. concessions?

Asked by Davis411 about 5 years ago

I'm always surprised how few people understand this.  The movies are not ours.  They are the studios(Disney, Fox, Lionsgate,etc).  Almost all of the ticket cost goes back to the movie studio.  Therefore the only ways for theaters to make money is at the concession stand.  Revenue is about 65% ticket sales, but actual profit is about 90% from concessions.Margins on items like popcorn, candy, and soda range from 150-700 percent. Theaters generally buy many candies for around $1.00 and sell that candy for around $4.00.

Were you a movie buff before owning your own theater? Is this like a dream come true for you, or is the work mostly dull?

Asked by HFH about 5 years ago

I never considered myself a movie buff, but have always enjoyed movies.  Its seems way cooler than it actually is.  Its a very tough business, but its nice to have a new product to sell every week and I certainly have learned so many new skills dealing with the many issues that come up all the time.

Have you ever had an actor who was starring in a movie come to watch the movie in your theater and/or do like a Q&A with the audience?

Asked by Randall about 5 years ago

No...I'm sure this mostly happens in Manhattan and L.A.

If a couple walks out of the movie theater demanding their money back, what would you do?

Asked by Tab almost 5 years ago

If the movie just started, we usually give a refund, but you can't get a refund if you don't like the movie, especially after 30 minutes or so.  We make the popcorn, not the movies

Dumb question but can ANYONE open and run a movie theater? Or do you need a special kind of permit or zoning rights?

Asked by lola about 5 years ago

Anyone can open a movie theater, BUT you would need to have someone with experience to help figure things out.  You need a booker to book movies.  You need digital projectors and servers. You need to understand how to pay the studios.  You need to figure out how to get movie times submitted online and to newspapers.  You need to order 3D glasses.  You need a POS system designed for movie theaters.  You need to find a supplier for all your concession products.

The list goes on and on, but no special permit is needed.  Commercial zoning is fine for a theater, although you may need to get a specific zoning classification before opening.

There is a movie coming out soon that is rated 18A, but I am not 18 yet, but i do look a little older. Will employees typically ID someone?

Asked by Liv almost 3 years ago

This is a Canadian rating that I am not too familiar with, but in the USA, your chances are maybe 50/50 depending on the employee and the policy of the theater.In the USA, the rating are just a guidance, not official law.

My family is looking to start our own independent movie theater in the midwest. We are curious, is there a way to hire someone to help with the start up?

Asked by Tyler almost 3 years ago

It is a very complicated and difficult business. You must have someone who has been in the industry for many years to figure things out. Even a former theater manager may be unfamiliar with how to deal with vendors, studios, and the many local and federal regulations.

What happens to a person that sneaks in another person into the movie? Do they actually care?

Asked by alias over 2 years ago

Its generally considered theft. You will be thrown out if caught. At larger theaters, the staff is less likely to care, but I would say that its is not a good idea. At my theater, we watch for things like this very closely.

How can i get a list of the special movies that only play wed & sat.

Asked by Cathy about 2 years ago

Contact your local theater! Every theater is different.

I have gotten the owner of a long emptied movie theater to agree to build the theater if I can supply the management team. I supplied the creative ideas to light the fire to make this happen, but as a documentary editor and previous prod I know nada

Asked by Debbie 9 months ago

A location that has been closed for years is a very bad sign...chances are a theater cannot survive there.You need to hire a booker to book movies at that location.You need digital projectors, audio equipment.You need a working concession stand with popcorn popper.You need seats that are at least comfortable for the theater. Competition and changing habits had led to luxury recliners and full service restaurant food.There is not a whole lot of creativity in first run theaters. Depending on the size and location, you play the latest movies in a fun, safe, and clean environment.

Why are the snacks like popcorn so expansive?

Asked by Merle91 3 months ago

Movie studios take 60-70 percent of each ticket sold at every theater. So, the only way theaters actually make enough money to profit, is from the concession stand. If we don't sell lots of popcorn and candy, we cannot survive as a theater. But, consider it similar to a stadium or arena. They do the same thing, although I am unsure of the financials of those businesses.

What are your favorite movie?

Asked by Merle91 2 months ago

The Greatest Showman

Any advice for someone that wants to be a movie manager? More specifically what kind of experience or skills would the hiring manager or owner be looking for?

Asked by Bernard about 1 month ago

Being a manager in a movie theater these days requires a unique set of skills including understanding some technology. I would say that its almost required that a theater manager have previously worked in a movie theater. But, closely related hotel managers, and restaurant managers would have a lot of the experience needed to make the switch.Skills needed include managing staff, customer service, some tech skills, working a fast paced environment, dealing with food.

Again? Need help with info re managing an indie theater. State of the Art everything. Art Deco theater which the owner has agreed to refurb if I find management team. I have ideas. No experience. A doc editor and producer just. HELP?

Asked by Debbie 9 months ago