Midnight/Repertory series... where are the audiences?

Derek Miner

Screenwriter
Joined
Feb 22, 1999
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1,663
Down here in Clearwater, Florida, a small independent theater started doing weekend midnight "cult" movies a few months back. During the month of October, they did "scary" movies every weekend, ending with The Exorcist on the weekend before Halloween.
I've been to many of these shows, and I noticed attendance started dropping off a few weeks ago. This past weekend, they showed Trainspotting, and less than ten people came. Most of the time I've seen theaters try things like this, they eventually fizzle out due to lack of interest, and I'm fearing this great midnight series might be on the chopping block as well.
So does anyone know of any successful midnight or repertory series? What makes these kinds of things work? What should the theater be doing that they might not be?
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= Derek =
 

Rob W

Supporting Actor
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May 23, 1999
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854
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Robert
They don't work because people who are passionate about certain cult movies now OWN them on VHS, laserdisc and DVD. People won't spend money to see older films in theatres (except when a studio changes them like STAR WARS ) when they can get them on video. This is a situation that all repertory cinemas have faced for the last decade as video has eroded their market.
It's a shame for those of us who like to see classic movies in theatres, but that's the way it is.
 

Jason Seaver

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You need a fair-sized population. We've got a pretty good rep scene here in Boston - the Brattle, midnight movies at the Coolidge, Rocky Horror every weekend - but we've not only got a big population, but it's filled with people who have an interest in classic/unusual films but can't necessarily afford to buy them - college students.
Basically, what you need is an audience large enough to not have to depend on everyone coming every week. Sponsorship also helps; it gives the series more visibility in other places so that it's just not movie buffs who know about shows that might interest them.
 

Neil S. Bulk

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Sep 13, 1999
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Neil S. Bulk
They don't work because people who are passionate about certain cult movies now OWN them on VHS, laserdisc and DVD.
If they were truly passionate about films, then they would go to see them in the theater, depsite owning them on video. I know I always try to go to the theater whenever a film I love is playing. I've had Raiders of the Lost Ark on video since 1983 in one format or another, and since that time I've seen it 8 times in the theater.
Neil - who was supposed to see 2001 today in D.C., but they had to show Harry Potter instead. To prove a point, I own 3 copies of that film on 3 separate formats.
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"Conspiracy theorists don't live on the same flat Earth as the rest of us." -- astronomer Stephen Maran
 

Paul Richardson

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 25, 2000
Messages
412
There's a theater here in town that does midnight showings all the time. Occasionally, I think I'm going to go but by the time it rolls around it's not worth it unless I'm already out on the town. I wish they'd show these films at normal times as well...I think they'd get better turnout.
 

Jesse Skeen

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Apr 24, 1999
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4,875
They tried midnights a few years ago here in Davis, but gave up when only 3 people showed up for "Toxic Avenger". I've heard midnight movies do well in some places, but I don't know what you have to do to get people to come. If I had to pick films for midnight movies I'd get either stuff that has never been on video or is hard to find, or movies that gain something being shown in a theater.
BTW a lot of theaters are reluctant to show "Rocky Horror" because of the mess the people make!
 

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