Thursday, January 03, 2008

I like a woman with an arse you can park a bike in and balance a pint of beer on.

I finally dragged out my book about how to write a business plan. D and I have always wanted to open our own theatre, for the most part a retrospective theatre in the vein of the Alamo Drafthouse. The Drafthouse, however, is more of a food service type place, more like the Studio Movie Grill or Movie Tavern. Ours would be less food servicey and more nostalgic concessions.

I really would like to locate it in my hometown, as there is a sizeable university there I think would make for a key audience. Location's going to be a bitch. And then there's the ongoing argument as to how many screens? 1-3 is the range, but I think 1 may be more realistic, especially based on the ultimate location. 3 might be ideal, but who knows at this point.

The tedious part of the business plan involves getting all the numbers of your target audience--the demographics, the trends, sheesh. For what we're going for, my hometown doesn't have much competition. I was recently lamenting how the only first-run theatre there was showing, of its four screens, Alvin & the Chipmunks, I Am Legend, National Treasure, and Walk Hard. But my tech friend pointed out that Alvin and National are the two leading films right now. Jesus wept. It's not even the type of theatre we'd like to run, but we may need to show first-run features to really make a profit, I don't know yet.

There are so many gorgeous abandoned vaudeville-type theatres across the country; I even looked at one in Evanston, IL back in 2003 when I was harboring delusions of maybe moving to Chicago. It was a very cool theatre, very art deco, but I didn't have the money to just drop everything and work on restoring it (it didn't need too much work, really, but still). And let's face it: the fuck do I know about Evanston? At least if it's my hometown I already know its shortcomings.

There has to be demand and first I would have to establish that a theatre of the sort we'd like to run would even be viable downtown. Being close to the university, I would think, would help immensely.

And there's nothing like word of mouth, so I have to make it a fucking myspace page of course. Did Blair Witch teach us nothing?

It may be a slow project that fizzles into nothing but it's certainly more than time to at least write up a business plan. Or at least, try to figure out how to write a business plan. You know?


alex said...

Score! :D Sounds like fuuuuun. Good luck!

...Y'know, I wonder about what percentage of the student pop. commutes, what percentage sticks around in town for entertainment. Offhand, it does seem like the square would be a nice middle ground to cater to both the community and the transitory student population... I mean, it's close-ish to the unis, but by virtue of its location it's obviously not catering solely to a uni crowd.

Of the youth/student-oriented businesses that have cropped up downtown and fizzled (for whatever reason--I'm ignorant of the reasons) there have been bars, trend-clothing/thrift places... I don't know just how strongly the students show their financial support. I wonder if there's a way to find out... Oh, but my point-- just saying that I'm not sure if the students might make up your core demographic? I feel that the community would support a retrospective theater just as strongly, if not more, than the student pop. :)

(What was the vibe at the Alamo? Was that mainly students?)

(And, heh. Not to sully your theater with coffee, but I'm just sayin': serve coffee, and you will own the town. 8D Coffee houses are a lock here. It's a hangout, you can do your homework there, there's caffeine, there's wifi. There's one such coffeehouse on the square that's been there for ages, and the few times I've been in there it's been doing excellent business.)

FWIW, lately two clubs have started construction on the square (actually, one's almost finished). I'm talking out of my ass because I'm not quite sure, but I get the impression one is country/western, and one is jazz?

Anyway!! Good luck with your project! Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. ;)

Ellen Aim said...

Woohoo! Yeah, I'm thinking close enough for unis willing to stick around, but the Community Theatre and Beth Marie's crowd is totally sweet.

I'm being careful not to put my eggs in the student basket. Dude, they are poor. But they'd want to show their films, and they have friends.

Alamo was peeps. *sighs*

Oooh, coffee and wifi, perfect ideas. Bitchin' coffee, no less.

A jazz club on the square? Woman, put the crack DOWN.

Alex said...

Heh. Actually, the jazz bar/club is the one I'm sure of. It hasn't begun construction yet, but they have the permit thingie posted on the front door. "Django's Big Toe."

lol XD Yeah, they're poor. But, y'know, after I posted that I followed the link to Alamo, and I had big second thoughts about how supportive they would be. If the theater's showing stuff that's close to their heart, they'll surely come in droves. :D I remember how incredibly fucking fun it was at midnight showings of stuff like Breakfast Club. And at The Theater That We Worked At That Shall Remain Nameless? The midnight showings of the cool stuff always seemed to do really well.

"But they'd want to show their films, and they have friends."

Aaaaah, coool. I didn't realize you were going for that angle, too. That'd be a nice gesture. :D

Triana said...

The Alamo is full of cool people, lots of students, but lots of just everyone. But then Austin is quite the movie/live music/going out kinda crowd. I can totally see this working near UNT though. They've got the good art crowd going on. What if you did sort of like the Alamo with the beer and wine and snacks? Maybe not the full-out restaurant menu (or you hire me and Vel to cook..ho ho!). I think that adds a certain delightful, relaxed atmosphere to the atmosphere that people go there for.

AND giving them a place to show their films would be GREAT. And maybe doing some of the film-making contests might be good too.

Overall, love the idea and think you should run with it. I know you've got access to artists, but I'm married to one too that has done logos and ads in the past if you want to hit him up for anything I'm sure he'd be willing to give it a whirl. I'm good at nothing, but I take directions well and am willing to help!

Ellen Aim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen Aim said...

Alex: Dude, I wanna go to Django's Big Toe!

We never had midnights at The Shithole when I was there, only at the Inwood. You pick the right ones and holy shit, do they come out!

Dude, totally nailing that angle. Want to have shorts beforehand, could put up art students' stuff in the lobby, musicians could submit their music for lobby play or maybe if we showed silent films they could accompany? All kinds of potential. I'm for milking it.

Tri: God I miss Austin. I just hope Denton has 1/8 the coolness of Austin.

I'm hoping for beer/wine, though that will involve extra effort with the liquor license. Personally, I'm for the oldschool Inwood approach where the bar was separate (how they card at the Angelika/Magnoia is beyond me).

My hubby has never done logos, we were just discussing that! We've actually been discussing the whole idea since we met; the name was always Gotham Theatre (there was once one in NYC but it has long since been closed), assuming no one sues us. I have no idea what the mission statement/slogan would be, but it seemed like a decent name for what we were after!

Veloute said...

I totally love this idea and want to help in any way that I can.

While I don't think you can *rely* on the student population, they do love their movies, esp if they are unusual...well, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Droves of people showed up. Sometimes dressed up, sometimes not. ;)

I agree about the coffee.

Ellen Aim said...

Vel: Danke! And yeah, I recall from the Inwood that certain movies sold a ton of munchies, like Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Dazed & Confused...gee, wonder why...

I will definitely make sure yummy coffee is on the list! Espresso bar it is! On the small side, I imagine, but anything is better than 6-hr-old pot coffee.

Triana said...

There's a girl I know in Austin who, of all the weird things, has friends who moved to Denton a few years ago (like no previous connection to Denton, and they didn't go there for college) and she goes up there all the time and they are all indie movie buffs. They would totally be at The Gotham Theater every chance they got.

Ahhhh..just thought of the snag with the beer and wine, is Denton still dry? I know there's that whole "membership" thing, but that's just ugly and too hard in a darkened theater. Like you said, best to have that separate and just focus on other yummy snacks. Too bad there's no Amy's for milkshakes. Hrmmmm...I think you've got gold here. I still say run with it and hit us all up for help.

Ellen Aim said...

Tri: That would be so cool! (Who the hell moves to Denton for no reason?)

I just have to establish that "the market" is there and people would, you know, go! *I* think they would, but it's hard to compare since there's no real competition. Movie Tavern just shows white trash stuff for the most part. (And rightly so, I guess, it does sell).

I don't *think* Denton is dry? Maybe? I think just a liquor license would do it? It would be a headache, but it may also be worth it. I always liked what the Inwood/Lounge had going on there (til they merged them).

But there is Beth Marie's across the street (assuming we magically snag the theatre that church is hoarding) and they have bitchin ice cream! (But nothing as good as Amy's!)

Veloute said...

I'm pretty sure Denton is dry. Remember one has to go to The Buckeye?

Ellen Aim said...

But you can buy beer and wine. Plus at the Movie Tavern we can buy tequila and don't have to join a membership thingy.