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February 1999, Week 4


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 12:46:35 +0000
TEXT/PLAIN (44 lines)
On Fri, 12 Feb 1999 16:05:15 -0600 Bruce Brasell <[log in to unmask]>

> I heard that the theater exhibition industry has a ratio of number of
> theater movie screens to population of area for determining if a city is
> over or under screened. Does anyone know what that ratio currently is or
> where I can obtain it. Supposedly in the late eighties it was one movie
> screen per 5,000 people.

I can't answer your question, but would have thought that the number of seats
was just as important a factor as number of screens.  Certainly the multiplex
revolution has precipitated a trend towards fewer seats per screen.  I recently
spent a weekend installing and commissioning a projection system in the bar of
a community arts centre which was being converted into an extra screen (the
manager's office then became the bar, and as for the manager, well, life is
hard and all that...).

The point of this is that the venue needed the economic security of having two
screens, so that if one film did badly, they could be kept afloat by the other.
When an extremely successful film comes along, they can just run it through
both.  I interlocked the projectors with selsyn motors, with the film passing
through a drain pipe between the two projection boxes.  So if you leave screen
1 to go to the bathroom, if you're quick about it, you can pop back into screen
2 and catch the scene you missed.  I've heard of some multiplexes which have
the facility of doing this through 10-15 projectors.  So each seat becomes more
flexible and can be used for whatever film is most likely to sell it.  But this
only becomes possible the lower the seats to screen ratio.

Leo Enticknap
Postgraduate Common Room
School of English
University of Exeter
Queen's Building, The Queen's Drive
Devon EX4 4QH
United Kingdom
email: [log in to unmask]

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