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 THE VIEW FROM THE BOXOFFICE: ROXY Q&A (2003)

We get a lot of questions at the Roxy. We'll answer the most interesting ones on this page, with new questions and answers added frequently.
If you have a question to submit,
click here to ask!

Other Q&As:   2004   2005

 

Q. If my parents send a permission slip, can I get in to an R-rated movie?

A. No, your parent or guardian must come to the boxoffice when you buy your ticket --not two hours ahead of time, or the day before, but when you actually buy your ticket, and give us permission to let you in to each R-rated movie. We cannot accept permission slips because we have no idea who wrote it. And we can't accept phone calls because we have no idea who's on the other end of the line.


Q. Why does the Roxy sometimes display posters for movies that never play?

A. We order posters for at least twice as many movies as we actually play. That's because we have no way of knowing, before a movie comes out, if it will be popular or not. We order posters far in advance because if we don't, the other theatres will snap them up and we'll be left without. We may display a poster for a movie that we think looks good; then, if the movie comes out and goes straight to the bottom of the charts, we'll take the poster down. In general you can go by this rule of thumb: If a movie is already out and we're displaying the poster, the film will probably play at the Roxy. If the movie is not out yet, however, we won't usually decide whether to play it until we find out how popular it is with audiences.
 


Q. I know that in the old days, the Roxy used to show three or four different movies every week. Why is that not possible now?

A. The movie business today is vastly different from what it was in the 1930s and '40s. In those days, movies were cheaper to make and market, and a lot more movies were produced. Also, in those pre-TV days, the movie theatre was the main source of entertainment for most people, so it was important for the theatre to have a steady stream of new features to keep the people satisfied. Nowadays, movies are so expensive to make (the average feature film these days costs at least $100 million to produce) that there are fewer films made. Even if there were enough films to play three or four a week, the studios won't allow short two or three-day bookings for recent films now anyway; and even if they did, the cost of shipping that many movies in and out every week would cripple the theatre's budget.


Q. How old is the Roxy?

A. It was built in 1930 and opened on September 6 of that year. You can read all about the building and opening of the Roxy on our In the News page. Just click the link at the top of this page to get there.


Q. How old do you have to be to work at the Roxy?

A. You have to be at least 15, due to the "child labor" laws. Kids under 15 can hold jobs, but they can't work past 7:00 at night, so that pretty much outlaws younger kids working at the Roxy.

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Q. Is it true the Roxy had a fire in it once?

A. Yes. The projection booth caught fire in the early 1950s. The blaze was caused by a spark from the lamphouse on one of the projectors, which ignited the highly-flammable nitrate film. The fire engulfed the booth and destroyed most of the equipment, and there was smoke damage to the upper floor of the theatre. Firefighters were certain the blaze was out, but then had to come back again when the fire found new life in the attic and roof. The Roxy was closed for a short time while repairs were made and new booth equipment was installed.


Q. How many speakers are in the Roxy's sound system?

A. If you mean speaker cabinets, there are 17 in the theatre. Three main speakers sit behind the screen, along with two subwoofers; ten surround speakers are on the walls in the auditorium, and two more surrounds are in the balcony. If you're asking about the individual speaker drivers, there are 37. Each of the surround speakers has two drivers (a woofer and a tweeter), while the three stage speakers each have three drivers. All the speakers were made by QSC, one of the leading manufacturers of cinema sound systems.


Q. What is the Roxy's policy on cell phones?

A. Since many people in Forsyth depend on cell phones with their jobs, you are allowed to have your cell phone in the theatre. We ask that you set your phone to "vibrate" rather than ring, if possible. And if a call OR a text comes in, or if you need to make a call or answer a text, we ask you to go to the lobby first. Also, please be aware that most phones emit a bright light from the screen. This light can be irritating to others. For this reason, we ask that you take your phone to the lobby if you need to use it -- even for a minute. We appreciate your cooperation.


Q. When the movie is finished playing, do you get to keep it?

A. Wouldn't that be nice! No, the movies go back to the shipping depot.


Q. Who were the architect and builder of the Roxy? Are they still around today?

A. Well, since the Roxy was built in 1930, it's doubtful they're still around...but we do have their names. The architect was Charles Wood, from Spokane, Washington. And the builder was C. A. Haynes, who was a contractor in the Forsyth area at that time. You can find more info on the building of the Roxy in the In the News section.



Q. I walked up and looked at the screen closely, and it looks like it's full of tiny holes. Is it?

A. First, congratulations on your sharp eyesight. Yes, the Roxy's screen (and almost every other theatre screen) is indeed full of holes. The holes are about 1/64" in diameter, and they are spaced about 1/4" apart over the whole surface of the screen. The purpose of the holes? To let the sound come through. Our stage speakers sit directly behind the screen, so the holes allow that sound to come through clearly. Without the holes, the sound would be muffled.



Q. Has the Roxy always had a balcony? Is it true that smoking was once allowed up there?

A. Yes, the balcony was part of the building originally. It has been changed slightly...the balcony was originally held up by three steel posts, but they were replaced in 1953 with a huge I-beam which runs all the way across the building. And yes, until 1979, smoking was allowed in the balcony.


Q. Does the Roxy have a Lost & Found department? How long are lost articles kept?

A. We find quite an array of goodies left behind by our guests. While most of the "loot" is articles of clothing (sweaters and caps being the most common), we also regularly find wallets, keys, checkbooks, backpacks, toys, cell phones, and even the occasional skateboard left in the theatre. Most articles we find are kept in our storeroom for at least one week. With wallets and checkbooks, if we can find a name inside, we'll call the owner. If an item contains money, and we can't find the owner, the money is given to the crew member who found it after one month.



Q. Why do movies have to be shown in the dark, while TV looks good even if the lights are on?

A. TV and movies are two completely different things when it comes to light. A TV set produces its own light directly from its picture tube, and that's the thing you're looking at; you are looking at the source of the light. With a movie, you're actually looking at reflected light, rather than the source. The light originates from the projection booth, which in our case is about 80 feet from the screen. Think of a lamp in your house...if you look directly at the bulb, the light seems a lot brighter than it does when you look at the light reflected off the wall at the other end of the room.

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Q. Why have so many movies lately been showing for two weeks? Is this going to continue?

A. When a movie shows for two or three weeks, it happens for one of two reasons. Either the movie is very popular, in which case we keep it for a second week (this is called a "holdover" in the biz); or the film's contract requires us to play the film for two weeks. This happens mostly when a film is brand-new.


Q. Why are there previews being shown now for movies that don't come out until the holidays?

A. Because they're effective, that's why. The whole phenomenon of "advance trailers" began with the movie "Independence Day." That movie didn't come out until July 1997, but previews were shown for it during the Super Bowl that year -- six months ahead of the film's release. The preview generated such a terrific "buzz" for the film that other film companies followed suit. If a trailer shows months ahead of the movie's release, we usually will pull it from the screen after just a week or two so people don't get tired of seeing it. It will reappear when the movie is closer to release.



Q. Why doesn't the Roxy sell coffee or hot dogs?

A. We used to sell both those things, but demand for them wasn't enough to make it worthwhile. We wound up throwing out more coffee and hot dogs than we were selling. Today, our former hot dog cooker is still going strong: we sold it to the Forsyth Country Club. Our coffeemaker, alas, died an early death when it quit working several years ago.


June 19, 2003

Q. How do you decide which movies to play on the "opening day" and which ones to wait on?

A. The decisions are made after taking a lot of things into consideration. First, is a movie even available to us on opening day? The studios don't always make enough prints to satisfy all the demand on opening weekend. Second, can we afford the film's terms? Some movies have very high price tags or long play-time requirements.


Q. Would it be possible to bring in some "westerns" for special shows?

A. This isn't likely to happen. The Western movie is not as popular as it once was, unfortunately. The bigger problem is with availability of prints. Unless a movie is a bonafide classic, there probably aren't any usable prints of it available. Add to this the fact that we'd have to bump some current movie out of our already crowded schedule, and you can see why a "western revival" probably isn't in the cards.



Q. Has the Roxy's ticket window always been where it is today, or was it in the center of the lobby at one time?

A. The window has always been where it is today. Interestingly, we have found two sets of blueprints for the Roxy's lobby. One set shows the boxoffice as a small booth in the center of the lobby. The other set shows the window on the east side, where it was finally built. We can only guess that the builders had two sets of plans to choose from and decided to place the window off to one side. It was a good decision, because if the boxoffice had been in the middle of the lobby, a lot of space would have been wasted.


June 4, 2003

Q. The outside doors on the theatre don't match the inside ones. Why is that?

A. The outer doors weren't part of the original building design. Originally, the foyer opened onto the street. However, we're guessing that the original owners decided to install outside doors after the first Forsyth winter hit. The original outer doors were made of wood, and each door had a window that was just a little bit bigger than a movie poster. By the late 1970s, those doors were worn out, so we had new doors installed. Since then we have worn-out two sets of "door closers" on those modern doors, proving that they truly don't make things like they used to!



Q. Does the Roxy have a basement? And if so, is it full of old movie posters?

A. There are actually two basements in the building: One under the boxoffice (which contains our soda-pop tanks, marquee letters, paper towels and other supplies), and one under the stage (which contains our heating system and spare parts for the seats). Other than that, the building sits directly on terra firma. As for the existence of old posters, sorry, that lake is fished dry. We've been through every nook and cranny of the building including the attic, and regardless of the "urban legends" you hear about movie theatres having millions of dollars worth of old posters stashed away, that isn't the case here. (It would be nice if it was true, though!)


Q. Does the Roxy have a sound system for the hearing-impaired?

A. We had one at one time, but it has fallen into disrepair because nobody ever used it. We are currently investigating new options since the hearing-impaired devices are mandated by law. We hope to have a system in place within the next couple of months.



Q. Why did Tom Clifford sell out his half of the Roxy?

A. In 1987, Tom got an opportunity to buy a one-third interest in a golf course in Havre. Since golf is one of Tom's true loves, he jumped at the opportunity. He continued to own half of the Roxy until 1992, when Mike Blakesley purchased his share.


Q. I see on the "Roxy in the News" page that the theatre had 500 seats at one time. How could they possibly fit 500 seats into that amount of space?

A. In the old days, the notion of "comfort" at a theatre took a back seat to the idea of fitting as many seats in as possible. Legroom was not a big concern. The original seating layout featured 15 seats across each row, with the rows being spaced only about 30 inches apart. And yes, there really were 500 seats in the theatre then.

The number of seats has been reduced several times, and for different reasons. Two rows of seats were removed in 1953 when the concession stand was first built. The problem of "legroom" was first addressed in the 1960s when seven rows of seats in the back of the theatre were removed and replaced with six rows of "recliner" seats, on which the seat cushion slid forward.

In 1981, two more rows of seats were removed when we enlarged the concession stand.

The "recliners" and the rest of the original Roxy seats were replaced in 1982. At the same time, the number of rows was reduced and the rows were spread to 45 inches apart, reducing the number of seats to 255.

In 1992, another row of seats in the back and the two front rows were removed and relocated to the balcony. This reduced the number of balcony seats from 75 to 44. These changes lowered our seat count to 214.

When we replaced the main floor seats again in 2002, we spread the rows out even further -- to 48 inches apart. By restoring one of the back rows and one of the front rows, we were able to keep our capacity at 194 seats, of which 44 are in the balcony.

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Q. How does the Roxy student discount card work?

A. Our discount cards allow high school students to save big bucks on the movies. Any time after you turn 12 years old, simply request a RoxyCard when you buy your ticket. Fill your RoxyCard out and bring it with you every time you come to the show. We'll stamp your card each time you attend, and you'll save one dollar off of the usual ticket price. When all ten spaces on your card have been stamped, you can use that card for one free movie. When you attend your free show, we'll give you a new card. All together, you save a total of $16.75 every time you fill up a Roxy card, so it makes good sense to get one and use it. RoxyCards expire when you graduate from high school.


Q. I noticed the Roxy has a stage. Was it a "stage" theatre at one time?

A. No, the Roxy was built as a movie theatre. We're not sure why the stage was put in, because the screen is fixed -- it can't be "flown" like the screen in some theatres can -- and there is no backstage area to speak of (it's all filled with speakers and air conditioning ducts). However, the stage has been used for lots of live entertainment over the years, including the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce Community Concert series of 2002, which featured such entertainers as Dan Seals, Margo Smith and Barbara Fairchild.


Q. Why does the Roxy sell Pepsi and not Coke?

A. We actually used to sell Coke (see our Photo Gallery for a few shots of our Coke machine). In 1979, Pepsi asked us to consider selling their products, so we added Pepsi to our lineup while keeping Coke. As it turned out, Pepsi outsold Coke by a wide margin, so we finally decided to go with Pepsi products.


Q. Has the Roxy ever shown an X-rated film?

A. Yes, there have been two X-rated movies shown at the Roxy that we know of. The first was the 1970s-era classic MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which was the only X-rated movie ever to win an Oscar for Best Picture. (The film has since been re-rated R.) The only other X-rated film we've shown is WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY, which was a 1972 big-screen version of the Candid Camera TV show. It was basically the same premise: Hidden cameras were employed while outlandish jokes were played on people. The difference, as you can tell by the title, was that the movie employed nudity...lots of nudity. We don't know if WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY has ever been released on video, but we'd assume it's probably been re-rated R as well.


Q. Is it true the Roxy's screen used to be much smaller than it is now?

A. Yes. In the 1930s, movie pictures were projected at a ratio of 1.33 to 1, which means that the picture is 1.33 feet wide for every foot it is tall. A rectangle of approximately these dimensions was eventually adopted for TV screens. In the 1950s, the movie industry was being beaten up by the newfangled TV industry, so to fight back, a process called CinemaScope was invented, in which the picture was over twice as wide as it was tall. (The actual ratio is 2.39 to 1.) In order to show this new type of film, theatres had to install wider screens and buy new lenses for the "Scope" movies. At the Roxy, two exit doors (one on each side of the screen) were taken out to make room for the new 30-foot-wide screen. The exit was relocated to the side of the auditorium, where it is today. The original exit doors can still be seen on the back of the theatre building.


Q. Why aren't cartoons shown ahead of movies any more?

A. It's mostly a matter of money. Cartoons are expensive to produce these days, and therefore they would be expensive to book. Also, in big cities, screen time is so valuable that no manager would want to eat up six or eight minutes of each showtime with a cartoon when he could be running ads or trailers. A sad development, but it's a sign of the times. A couple of studios, most notably Pixar Animation, still include occasional cartoon "shorts" along with their feature films. (If we were running Hollywood, we'd dust off some of the old classic 'toons and start including them with new movies.)

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Q. Any chance the Roxy rest rooms will ever be enlarged?

A. We have been working on plans to enlarge the restrooms, but it is required by law that we have at least one restroom that is wheelchair-accessible, and that's a problem for us due to space and the width of the existing doorways. However, we continue to brainstorm ideas.


Q. Who picks the movies that show in Forsyth?

A. While we have the final call as to what plays or doesn't play on our screen, most of the decisions are made by our booking service. They book movies for around 200 screens, which gives them more "clout" with the studios than we would have on our own. Every Thursday or Friday, we have a phone conversation with our booker to plan the following week's movie, and once the plan is finalized, the booker contacts the studio early on Monday morning to order the print for us. If a print isn't available, then the #2 or #3 choice for the week is booked. After the booker has confirmed the week's movie, he calls us and lets us know what we'll be playing. (Usually we have a rough idea of what's coming up in the next few weeks, but we can't always tell you the "order" the movies will be in.)


Q. Why can't kids sit in the balcony?

A. There are a lot of reasons, but the most important one is our insurance policy. In order to reopen the balcony in 1992, we had to promise the insurance company that no one under 21 would be allowed to sit up there. If not for that promise, the company would not have allowed the balcony to be open.


Q. Why do movies cost more in the big cities than they do in Forsyth?

A. It is generally less expensive for a business to operate in a small town. We save on just about everything from labor costs (because it takes less people to run a business) to taxes. But the most important reason for a theatre is probably film rent. Big city theatres play every movie on its opening date -- even the "bomb" movies -- so they are obliged to pay high film rents on everything. Since we don't have the room to play every movie the day it comes out, we save some money on film rent by waiting a couple of weeks on some titles. That's good news for the consumer, since it allows us to keep our tickets and concessions priced reasonably.

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