Bring them back!
I was recently reminded of an old local tv commercial I once saw in the Gwinnett County, GA area. In this commercial, a man rummages his home for loose change; under and in the couch, behind the fridge, in the laundry, etc. By the end of his search, holding a few bucks in change, He announces, “We’re goin’ to the movies tonight”. After reminiscing on this, I wondered; when was the last time anybody in the New Orleans area was able to go to the movies with a handful of pocket change?
Like most cities, New Orleans has not been immune to the current economic recession. And with ticket/concession prices as high as they are, moviegoers are hurting. While programs like MoviePass look to bring more people into the multiplex, I’d like to see something that offers immediate ticket savings; the second run “dollar” theatre.
A second run theatre offers cheap tickets (a dollar or two) for movies that have been dropped from mainstream theatres (a second run). My experiences with dollar theatres have varied; stale popcorn, dirty floors, etc. But, while the negatives can always be changed, the one positive that stays the same is bargain tickets.
Currently, there are no dollar theatres in the New Orleans area. Why is that? The city, as well as the metro area, is filled with people who want to go to the movies, but are more careful when using their wallets (I’m sure New Orleanians would be more willing to see “The Change Up” if tickets were $2) — the perfect audience for a second run theatre. We also have plenty of buildings that could hold such a business (there are even two old theatres in Covington that could be reopened with little fixing). So, how do we get one? A grassroots campaign would be a good place to start.
Right now, there is a facebook page for people wanting to bring back the old Movie Pitchers. This petition would be a great launching place for drumming up interest in a dollar theatre. In fact, why not merge the two projects into one? Movie Pitchers, from what I understand, sold beer, had a devoted audience and a fun atmosphere (holding film festivals for bad movies). Such a theatre, with second run prices (and plenty of alcohol, if in an appropriate zone), ought to have no problem in finding investors. And to any potential investors that may be reading this, why not sell shares to the community?
The idea of a community owned and even operated business is certainly not new, especially in a city with a CoOp grocery and an anarchist book store (imagine an anarchist movie theatre!). So, it’s not too much of a stretch to offer citizens the opportunity to invest, either through purchasing shares or a membership (like NOFS) or even volunteering their time — so why not “kickstart” a dollar theatre? Other than the benefit of having a cheap movie theatre people can go to with family, making this kind of an investment would give people more of a say as to how the business is operated (“less advertisements, more movies!”). An investment in a community theatre would be an investment in your local culture.
I want to see movies in movie theatres. More than that, I want to pay to see movies with quarters from my couch. Unfortunately, as a futon owner, I no longer can dig for change (I keep a change jar). But not everybody owns a futon. And as long as couch owners are willing to dig for change, not only can a dollar theatre be opened, but it can also thrive in New Orleans.
Originally published in Invade NOLA.