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The small-town movie house braces for an unexpected threat
Posted by: Speedy
Date: November 27, 2019 08:34PM

NEW YORK — The Callicoon Theater is a single-screen cinema along the banks of the Delaware River in the Catskills, in rural upstate New York. It has an art-deco facade and 380 seats. “We never sell out,” its box-office phone line promises. There’s not another theater for 30 miles.

Kristina Smith last year moved up from Brooklyn and bought the Callicoon, becoming only its third owner. The Callicoon, she says, is more than a place to see “Frozen 2” or “Parasite.” It’s a meeting place, a Main Street fixture, a hearth.

“It’s been like that for a really long time. All the locals up here, from third-generation farmers to school teachers and families, they kind of rely on it,” says Smith. “In some of these rural areas in America, a little movie theater is kind of a little beating heart of a town.”

Somehow, the Callicoon has managed to operate continuously for 71 years. It has survived television. It has survived the multiplex. It has survived Netflix. But, like a lot of small-town movie houses with one or two screens, the Callicoon is facing a new uncertainty. This time it’s not because of something new but the eradication of something old.

The Justice Department last week moved to terminate the Paramount Consent Decrees, the agreement that has long governed the separation of Hollywood studios from movie theaters. Hatched in the aftermath of a 1948 Supreme Court decision that forced the studios to divest themselves of the theaters they owned, the Paramount Decrees disallowed several then-common practices of studio control, like “block-booking,” or forcing theaters to take a block of films in order to play an expected hit.


Most smaller independent theaters are already just squeaking by. Funneling as much as 65% of a movie’s box office back to distributors, any profits mostly come from concessions. And they feel like they know their audience better than distant corporations. The United Drive-In Theater Owners Association, for example, noted that they have their own programming considerations separate from “indoor cinema.”

The Justice Department and Makan Delrahim, head of its antitrust division, nevertheless decided the decrees “have served their purpose,” adding that “their continued existence may actually harm American consumers by standing in the way of innovative business models for the exhibition of America’s great creative films.”

Under President Donald Trump, the Justice Department has been moving to terminate numerous legacy decrees. AMC and Regal didn’t publicly object to repealing the Paramount Decrees but they are challenging plans to eliminate the ASCAP-BMI decrees which have wide-ranging implications for music rights.

The Justice Department’s current deregulatory approach has already played a role in reshaping the landscape of Hollywood. It quickly rubber stamped the Walt Disney Co.’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which by combining two of the industry’s most storied studios, created one of its most dominant distributors ever. Nearly a third of all tickets sold this year belong to Disney.

Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: The small-town movie house braces for an unexpected threat
Posted by: deckeda
Date: November 27, 2019 11:21PM
innovative business models

And there it is. Business models serving small, independent movie houses were just fine, thanks. But with the ever-increasing drive to consolidate studios and delivery outlets, it's a safe bet a Disney Theater will open near you before long.

We have 2 theaters, one in-town and one just outside. The one in-town shows either a kid movie or a blockbuster if it isn't rated R. Tickets are $5, or $3 on Sundays.

As a kid, my step father in law would sometimes walk 20 miles to see movies here. That was 60-70 some years ago. I reckon it looks about the same then as now. He lives 2 minutes away by car now, but doesn't go out to watch movies.

The other is a drive-in and they'll show R-rated stuff.
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