July 18--A new set of blockbuster movies will begin hitting the screens of the Met Cinema at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday). Last week Matthew Sconce and Keith Walker of Movie Heroes signed an agreement with yet another major studio -- Lionsgate.
"By getting Lionsgate, we increase our ability to bring them (Met Heroes) 15 to 20 more movies a year that they would have missed," Sconce said. "Every time we get a studio, it gives us more options to give movie-goers what they want and gives more value to their membership. To us, more options equal more value."
Some upcoming Lionsgate films include: "Hunger Games; Cartching Fire," "Ender's Game," and "Red 2," which begins playing tonight (July 18).
Since the day the Met Cinema reached 3,000 members on New Year's Eve, Sconce and Walker have signed contracts with 11 studios -- five major studios and six minor studios. Those studios are: Universal, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Film District, Open Road, Sony Classics, Relativity, Weinstein Company, Focus Features and now Lionsgate.
However, these contracts were not made without a lot of perseverance. The Met has had a few studio holdouts, because some studios have been unsure about signing a contract with a membership based theater. Sconce and Walker recently went on a movie studio tour to address these issues with executives face-to-face. Sconce said that in the past, studios have felt cheated by theater membership programs because there has been a lack of transparency. Theaters were able to scam studio companies by not reporting accurate ticket sales. To ensure studios of the Met's transparency, Walker created a live audit system that allows studios to look inside the theater at any time.
"The cameras show bodies, but not faces, so they can see the count and compare it directly against the numbers we've reported and they can also see archives," Sconce said.
Sconce and Walker took their product to Lionsgate and shared it with the company's executives.
"Our first initial impression of Lionsgate was that they were very forward thinking, edgy, young, and exciting," Sconce said.
The meeting was a success and a contract was formed and signed last week.
"This model has the potential to save a lot of theaters across the nation and make them thrive and not just exist and that makes them excited," Sconce said.
Sconce said they are also actively pursuing contracts with Warner Brothers and Fox and had meetings with both of them on their studio tour.
"When two small-town boys walk into Warner Brothers with an appointment, it feels surreal," Walker said. "We talk to these people with massive power that are leading the industry, and they're listening to what Oakhurst did to save their theater, and it makes us excited about the future."
Warner Brothers is the biggest movie producer of all the studios, producing 27-30 movies a year, which includes films such as Superman, The Hobbit, Pacific Rim, 42, and The Great Gatsby.
"We'll continue the uphill journey of trying to get these studios," Sconce said. "We're very hopeful about Warner Brothers and Fox. We believe our system is efficient and successful, and that it makes studios want to come on board with it."
Sconce said the theater has seen a 60% increase in attendance with their membership model -- the best attendance the theater has seen in the last 10 years. Membership rose to 4,000 over the weekend -- 1,000 more members than the theater began with on New Year's Eve. Met membership costs vary, but begin at $19.95 for an individual.
"Now we're at the succeeding line and once we're at 4,500 we'll be at the thriving level," Sconce said. "We'll be able to rock and roll and hopefully find a way to get more comfortable chairs."
Sconce said their goal is to have more than 5,000 members.
"If you love your membership, tell your friends," Sconce said.
All the screens and audio in the theater are now digital, also, and have been for the last three months.
(c)2013 the Sierra Star (Oakhurst, Calif.)
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