Schenectady County

New theater in Schenectady draws large crowds

Movieland is consistently beating out all but one of the movie theaters in the Capital Region, comin
From left, Kent Molino, his wife Carol, Nora Molino, 8, Katelyn Woolley, 8, Tim Molino, 11, and Danny Goldfaro, 11, of Niskayuna, start snacking before heading in to see "National Treasure" at Movieland in Schenectady on Friday afternoon.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
From left, Kent Molino, his wife Carol, Nora Molino, 8, Katelyn Woolley, 8, Tim Molino, 11, and Danny Goldfaro, 11, of Niskayuna, start snacking before heading in to see "National Treasure" at Movieland in Schenectady on Friday afternoon.

Movieland is consistently beating out all but one of the movie theaters in the Capital Region, coming in second only to Crossgates Mall’s 18-screen Regal Cinema, officials said Friday.

It appears that Movieland will bring in more than 200,000 customers over the course of its first year. Attendance is so high that Movieland has become a victim of its own success — its lease is going up because so many customers are visiting the theater.

Movieland’s lease contract specifies that it must pay more each year if attendance exceeds expectations. Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen confirmed Friday that Movieland’s attendance has triggered that provision, although he said the lease won’t go up until May, Movieland’s first anniversary.

But officials from Bowtie Cinemas, which operates Movieland, aren’t complaining.

“The theater has been a smashing success,” said Chief Operating Officer Joseph Masher.

He’s been closely watching Movieland’s attendance figures in comparison to the AMC Theatres at Rotterdam Square mall and the Regal theaters in Latham, Clifton Park and East Greenbush. Usually, Movieland beats them all.

“A lot of weekends, we are second,” Masher said.

Crossgates is still the undisputed champion of the Capital Region. That’s no surprise — Masher said he never expected to beat the 18-screen theater on per-movie attendance, since Crossgates can place the same movie on several screens.

But Masher said he also didn’t think the new cinema in Schenectady would immediately blow away the established six-screen theaters in Clifton Park, Latham, East Greenbush and Rotterdam.

He was surprised when Movieland outdid everyone but Crossgates on its opening weekend eight months ago. More people saw “Shrek the Third” in Albany and Schenectady than anywhere else.

“We expected to do well, but we didn’t know we’d do this well,” Masher said when the first weekend’s numbers came in.

He’s thrilled that the success has continued since then, he said Friday. “We are performing very well against our competition.”

SENSITIVE DATA

Gillen added that the figures indicate M ovieland is holding its own against Crossgates on a screen-to-screen comparison.

“They’re even giving Crossgates a run for their money,” he said. “But you can’t compare gross revenue from 18 screens to 6.”

Movieland is required to share its attendance figures annually with Metroplex under its lease, although cinemas normally keep that data secret. Attendance figures are used to negotiate for better lease rates on new films, and since cinema companies are negotiating against each other, they try to hide their data from their competitors.

Bowtie Cinemas is a relatively small company, which means it can end up paying more than Regal for the same movies. Given the competition issue, Masher said, he would not publicly disclose movie-by-movie attendance.

Gillen, who has the figures, said he would respect Masher’s privacy. But before he received the figures on Friday, he said he’d expected the theater to bring in about 3,800 patrons a week, or roughly 200,000 people a year. That’s an average of 22 people per show, although the average is skewed because evening and weekend shows draw bigger crowds than the morning shows.

Still, Gillen said he would be pleased by a report of 3,800 patrons a week.

“That would be an excellent performance,” he said. “For six screens, in a new theater, that would be great numbers.”

Once he got the figures, he would only say that Movieland is doing better than he’d hoped.

“I have the numbers in front of me. They are good,” he said. “The cinema is exceeding expectations.”

He added that previous reports from Proctors officials, who estimated the cinema brought in 2,000 patrons a week, were incorrect. It’s possible those reports were referring to weekends only.

There is one bit of disappointing news from Movieland. Independent films aren’t doing as well as some enthusiasts had hoped.

“They’ve performed fairly,” Masher said, adding later, “They perform as well as they do elsewhere.”

Still, he’s going to keep sending independent films to Schenectady. “There Will Be Blood” will be showing there soon.

“Bowtie always employs a mix of product,” he said.

But some of the independent movies are just too expensive for Bowtie to get, Gillen said.

“They bid on stuff and they sometimes don’t win it,” Gillen said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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