Local Entrepreneurs Strive to Save Local Cinema

Dec 11, 2012 No Comments by

OAKHURST, Calif. – Three local entrepreneurs have undertaken an ambitious task in resurrecting Oakhurst’s only movie theatre, and drafted a new model for small town theater operations that they hope will catch on.

The mountain community contains about 20,000 households and the home of the Met Cinemas, Oakhurst, is located 20 minutes south of the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Despite seeing a large number of tourists who stay in there due to its proximity to Yosemite, Oakhurst is still a small town that, due to the high overhead of running a theater, had a hard time supporting its only movie house, The Met Cinemas.

“Many people don’t realize that theaters get very little from ticket sales, sometimes only 5% with the rest going back to the studio” said, Matt Sconce, one of three local men fighting to keep the theater open.

“Theaters must meet their costs from the concession stand, and it’s very hard to make rent, utilities and employee costs.  The traditional ticket selling theater does this one box of candy at a time,” he said.

Along with Sconce, James Nelson and Keith Walker have come up with a business plan that combines proven techniques from subscription based business models, and puts them to use in the traditional setting of a theater: selling memberships.

“By selling memberships to go the theater, we create a steady stream of revenue to cover the overhead and upgrade costs, while moviegoers get to see films more often for less. It’s a win-win,” said Sconce, who himself is familiar with the movie industry having produced four feature films and directed two.  His most recent film, “Firefall,” comes out in California theaters in January.

The trio is working with the landlords who like their business plan and have given them a month to gather the necessary number of memberships to prove the idea can work.

“We have to get 3000 people to sign up and be a member,” Sconce said.

“It’s a big task, but we think we can do it.”

Their optimism may be well placed, as thanks to a groundswell of support to save The Met after it first closed and a tremendous grass-roots marketing campaign from the team, they’ve gathered over 1,200 memberships already in about a week.

“We’re so excited to see people joining us in saving the Met. We thought we had something exciting, and the town seems to agree,” Sconce said.

Sconce cautioned, however, that they can’t get complacent by the early results, time is of the essence and people interested in helping the effort need to join sooner rather than later.

“While we have had a positive response, it’s important that we prove this concept will work as soon as possible. We can’t assume someone else will buy in, if you want to save The Met, then sign up and tell everyone.”

The team has set up a website where people can become members and that answers frequently asked questions about their membership based business plan. For more information or to sign up, visit www.SaveTheMet.com.



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