THE VIEW FROM THE BOXOFFICE: ROXY Q&A
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November 21, 2004
Q. Why are the Roxy bathrooms so small?
A. When the theatre was built, public accommodations were not as lavish as they tend to be today. The Roxy originally had only a ladies room -- the men had no facilities at all! Since the biggest concern for a theatre in those days was to cram in as many seats as possible, the ladies room was designed in the absolute minimum size in order to save space. In 1930, the fact that the ladies had a small "lounge" area outside of the toilet room was considered quite a luxury! The men were finally granted relief in the early 1950s when laws were passed making it mandatory for theatres, restaurants and other public facilities to offer restrooms for both sexes. The only available space in the Roxy for a men's room was a broom closet, which was duly converted. Unfortunately, the closet was (and is) extremely small, so the only fixture in the room is a urinal. We are currently making plans to increase the size of both restrooms. Our plans will, unfortunately, cost the ladies their lounge area; but at least both genders will have a toilet, sink and some room to turn around in!
Q. Would it be possible to bring back some classic movies to the big screen?
A. While we'd enjoy that as much as anyone, the biggest problem with classic movies is, who is the audience? There might be a few dozen people in Rosebud County who would love to see "Jaws" or some other major classic on the big screen, but that's not enough people to pay the way for bringing in the film. Additionally, we'd have to clear our calendar of some current movie in order to fit the classic in -- which wouldn't be a big hit with our regular customers. Help may be on the way, though: When digital cinema becomes the standard exhibition format, it will be much easier to pull in classic movies for single, special showings. So, be patient; it may be a bit down the road, but your wish may come true at some point.
Q. Can I apply for a job at the Roxy?
A. We are always accepting applications even if we have no current openings. You can pick up an application at our boxoffice any time. Most openings occur in the months of July and August, because that's when our graduated high school seniors start getting ready to leave for college or careers.
September 15, 2004
Q. Can the Roxy's screen be removed and the stage used for other purposes?
Unfortunately, no. Even if the
screen could be moved (and it can't; it's anchored to over 200
hooks that are screwed into the floor and walls), the area behind
it is filled with sound system speakers, air conditioning ducts,
some old projector parts, and a large quantity of dust.
Q. Didn't the Roxy used to have a "cry room" for babies? If so, where was it and why isn't it there anymore?
A. The cry room is still there, but it was converted in 1980 to much-needed storage space. The room is in the back of the auditorium, and in its glory days it had a large window for viewing, four seats, and a small speaker so the occupants could still hear the movie (if the baby wasn't crying too loud!)
August 25, 2004
Q. Why don't you put the show times on the marquee every week? It's easy to see the showtimes while driving by if they're on the marquee.
If the times are not on the marquee,
it's usually because we are running some type of unusual schedule
for that week. Several things can throw our schedule out of whack.
If we have extra shows, like matinees or midnight shows or whatever,
we might put the schedule in the windows instead of on the marquee
because it is too complicated to fit everything onto the marquee.
Q. My grandson fell asleep during the movie. Can we get the free pass he used back?
Sorry, once a pass has been used
it cannot be returned. We don't give back passes for any reason
unless you have to leave the theatre in case of emergency.
Q. Does the Roxy have booster seats for kids?
Yes, we have 20 booster chairs
which fit right into our regular chairs. They have their own
cupholder and a place to put a box of candy, too. If a movie
is popular, the boosters may all be taken by showtime, so please
arrive early to make sure you get one for your youngster.
Q. How long do the previews run before the movie starts?
A. It varies somewhat, but we normally run three to six previews (trailers) before each show. Since most trailers are around two minutes long, that means the feature film will usually start about 6 to 12 minutes after our advertised showtimes. Please note, we do not run any commercials before our films.
August 8, 2004 - Special "NEW SEATS" edition
Q. What happened to the old Roxy seats?
The balcony seats have been discarded.
The main floor seats will be stored until such time as we can
sell them to another theatre.
Q. Will the new seats upstairs be the same as the downstairs seats?
No. Since the balcony has less
legroom than the main auditorium due to its stadium-style risers,
we had to select a different model of chairs for the balcony.
The backs of those chairs do not lounge, and the cupholder armrests
cannot be raised on that particular model. However, they are
be much more comfortable than the previous balcony chairs!
Q. How much does a theatre chair cost, anyway?
A. Figuring the chairs themselves, the installation, freight, electrical wiring for the lights, the flooring, and travel time and other expenses for the installers, the total cost is about $200 per chair. (When you consider that we have 197 chairs, suddenly our ticket price seems like a pretty good bargain!)
May 13, 2004
Q. With all the advances in technology, why does it still take several years for animated movies to be made?
Making an animated film is much
more complicated than a live-action one. First, you have to have
a story; then, you need a script; and then you need the talent,
director and a "deal" to hold it all together. All
of this can take a couple of years to put together. Then, the
painstaking process of animating the story and adding the voices
begins, which takes another year or maybe two. Finally, there's
editing, last-minute changes, and music to be added. Even with
high-speed computer technology, much of making an animated film
is still done the same way it has been since the earliest Disney
Q. When did the age for sitting in the balcony change to 21? I remember when it was 18.
Sorry, but you have a flawed memory.
The balcony age has been 21 for at least 25 years, and probably
longer than that. However, you can take heart: The sound is better
in the lower auditorium than it is in the balcony, and many people
believe the seats down below are more comfortable as well. In
addition, the downstairs seats offer over twice as much legroom,
and easier access to the restrooms and the concession stand.
Quite frankly, we are surprised that so many people prefer to
sit in the balcony, but to each his own.
Q. How soon do you know when you'll be playing each movie?
A. It depends on the movie. With certain "blockbuster" titles like the Harry Potter movies, we know that we want to play them on the opening date if we can. However, we don't know for sure if we'll be able to play such a film until we find out the film rental terms. If the terms are too high, we have to wait a while. Normally, we find out about three or four weeks ahead of time what the terms will be, and can make a decision whether to play the film on its opening date or not. Once a movie is in release, prints are usually available to us within a couple of weeks, so it's just a matter of deciding when we can fit the film into our schedule.
May 13, 2004
Q. Did the Roxy ever serve beer or alcohol?
No, the Roxy has never served anything
but soft drinks, and prior to 1953 the theatre didn't serve any
drinks at all!
Q. Why do we have to bother with ticket stubs when we're going right into the theatre?
A. The tickets are required by our contract with the film company. Tickets are more than just your entree into the movie; they are also a document that keeps track of how many people are in the theatre. Our film rental is based on our ticket sales. As for the ticket stubs, you can toss it in the trash if you wish; but, we are required by our contracts to give it to you.
April 29, 2004
Q. Why is the Roxy website "dot net" instead of "dot com?"
When we first set up our website,
"roxytheatre.com" was already in use by another Roxy
Theatre. So we went with ".net," which is a lot cooler
anyway. Let's face it, "dot com" is so last century.
Q. What's the minimum number of people you'll show a movie for?
Q. How is the Roxy able to get movies so fast when many other towns aren't able to?
A. Several reasons: First, we have a very good booker who we have instructed to go after the best movies aggressively. In some towns, the booker is told to wait for the price to drop. Second, we are not afraid to pay the (often) higher film rents necessary to get movies faster, because we feel that increased attendance will offset any higher film rent we may have to pay. Third, since we don't distribute printed show calendars, we can do our bookings on "Monday for Friday" making it possible to rearrange our schedule on a moment's notice.
April 22, 2004
Q. The Roxy website is showing outdated information on my computer. Why?
We would guess that the problem
lies in your internet browser. It is probably loading an old
version of one or more of our pages that are stored on your computer.
To get around this, you need to set your browser to refresh the
pages when you visit them. This will be a setting in your internet
options. Consult your "help" system, or contact your
internet provider for assistance. Or, you can do it on the fly
with most browsers, by pressing CTRL-R while viewing a page.
(The R stands for Refresh.) This command will force your computer
to load the most current version of the page from the server.
Q. Does the Roxy use real butter on its popcorn?
A. No, we use a butter substitute called SuperKist 2, which is made by Odell's. We used to use Odell's Butterfat, which is real butter, but it costs over five times as much as the SuperKist, so in 1997 we ran an unadvertised trial with SuperKist for three months. During that time, we got compliments that we were using "better butter" than before, and not one complaint, so we decided to stay with the SuperKist. If we were to go back to the real butter, we'd have to raise our popcorn prices by at least 50 cents per serving.
April 9, 2004
Q. Why does the screen sometimes go blank for a few seconds during the previews?
There are two different film formats
in use today, called "flat" and "scope."
The scope picture is wider than the flat picture, and requires
a different lens. Most previews, or trailers as they're known
in the business, are available in both formats. Sometimes, however, there
will be a preview that we want to show with a certain movie,
but the only copy of the trailer we have will be in the "flat"
format, while the feature film is in "scope." That
pause in the previews occurs when we are switching the flat lens
for the scope one. If you're sitting in the balcony, you might
hear a couple of faint "clanks" from the projection
booth while the switch is being made.
Q. I think your sound system is out of whack...the surround sound on my home theatre system is much louder than it is in the theatre. Why is this?
Sorry, but it's your home system
that's out of whack. The surround sound is not meant to "hit
you over the head" with sound; it's meant to enhance
the main sound, which is the sound from the screen. If the surrounds
are overly loud, it tends to distract from the onscreen sound.
And, you should NEVER hear dialogue (talking) from the surrounds,
except for the occasional special effect. If you hear actors
coming out of your home surrounds, better schedule yourself a
Q. Is "The Passion of the Christ" the most popular movie ever to play at the Roxy?
Well, it's the most popular Latin-speaking
movie we've ever played! Seriously, "The Passion,"
while very popular, is not the most popular movie we've played.
That honor goes to a slightly older film: "Titanic," which had over twice as
many ticket-buyers as "The Passion" during its first
Q. Why don't you sell the movie soundtrack CDs at the concession stand?
A. We are not licensed to sell the soundtrack CDs. Our contract with the film companies specifically prohibits us from selling anything related to the feature film. This is primarily to protect the interests of other stores that might sell these items, such as music stores.
March 25, 2004
Q. Why can't more movies come to Forsyth on the opening day?
We would love to open more movies
on the opening day. It isn't possible to open them all, however...we
don't have the space or the time. In their opening weeks, movies
must be booked for two weeks -- sometimes longer. Film rentals
are also much higher during those first few weeks of a movie's
release. If we opened new movies every week, we'd have to raise
our ticket prices to afford the film rent -- and our selection
of movies would be cut in half, because everything would be played
for at least two weeks. We think it's better to open the occasional
"blockbuster" on the break, and pull in the rest of
the films as fast as we can. Usually, most movies are here before
they're a month old, so the wait isn't exactly very long. I
Q. If I get to the movie late, can I use a flashlight to find a seat?
A. That would be very annoying to the people who are already seated, so we can't allow it. We really appreciate it when people come to the movies on time; it makes it easier to find a seat, it's safer because you're not walking around in the dark, and it's more considerate of other moviegoers.
March 11, 2004
Q. Why is only one movie shown on week nights? Would it be possible to have Sunday matinees?
The reason for only one show on
the weeknights is simply a matter of attendance. Even on Friday
and Saturday, the most crowded nights of the week, we often have
just a handful of people at the late show. If we were to run
two shows every night, there would be many nights with just two
or three people in the audience. It just isn't worth it to run
a late movie when most people don't want to stay up that late. We'd also
have to raise our ticket prices to cover the extra cost of having staff
on hand for the extra shows.
Q. Do you sell concession stand gift certificates?
No, but we sell Roxy Gift
Cards which can be used for either tickets or concessions.
February 26, 2004
Q. Why do you display posters for movies and then not show them?
A. Here is something to keep in mind when you're scanning our lobby posters: If a movie isn't out yet, but the poster is on display, that means WE THINK we'll be playing the movie. If the movie is already in release, and we're displaying the poster, in all likelihood we are fairly sure we'll be playing it. But if that poster suddenly disappears for no apparent reason, you can bet that the movie was a lackluster performer and we've pulled it from the schedule.
Q. Why are the previews louder than the movies?
For the same reason TV commercials
are louder than the TV shows: To get your attention. Actually,
there's been a move afoot for several years to get the volume
lowered on movie previews. We haven't been impressed with the
results, yet. On most nights, we adjust our volume down during
the trailers and put it back to our normal settings for the feature
Q. Are movies coming out on video faster than ever before?
A. Not exactly. While the "average length of time" between a movie's theatrical release and its video release is getting shorter, the fact is that a big hit movie takes about four months to get to video. It's the "bombs" that make it to video faster...sometimes as quickly as two months. The good news is, we try not to play the bombs, so in most cases it's likely to be at least four to six months before a movie we play goes to video.
Q. I can't always get in to the Roxy website. Why is this?
A. If you're reading this, obviously you made it, but some people have difficulty getting to our site. If you have a friend with this problem, please share the following solution.
Our guess is that people who can't reach our site are simply spelling it wrong. Remember, we spell "theatre" the old fashioned way, with RE at the end. The news media insists on spelling it "theater" but we're sticking to our guns. Also, remember that our website address ends in ".net" rather than ".com". To review: Our web address is www.roxytheatre.net. Happy surfing!
Q. How do those messages like "Starts Friday" appear on the screen?
A. Those messages are projected from an ancient slide projector. The machine used to be in the projection booth, but it is now located in one of our storage rooms, which makes it more convenient for us to operate. We have no idea how old this machine is, but it is undoubtedly the oldest piece of equipment in the theatre. The slide projector uses glass slides (you can see one of the slides leaning against the projector in this picture). We can use this same machine to put your name on the screen if you get a phone call or other emergency while you're watching the show.
Q. I have tried to send you an email, but it bounces back to me. What's happening?
A. Our guess is you're spelling something wrong in our e-mail address. The most common mistake is to spell the word "theatre" with an "ER" ending. Remember, it's t-h-e-a-t-r-e. Our primary e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, but if you have trouble with that one, try email@example.com. The easiest way to e-mail us is to click one of the links you'll find throughout the site (such as the one at the top of this column), and then you won't have to worry about the address.
Q. What kind of oil does the Roxy use in its popcorn?
A. We use Odell's coconut oil. We have considered switching to other types of oil in the past, but other locations have reported problems with taste, smell and flammability, so we see no reason to switch from something that's been consistently popular for over 30 years.
Q. I seem to remember that in my younger years, the movie films were more beat-up and scratched than they are these days. Is the quality of the film better, or why has the quality improved?
A. You are not imagining things; time was when a movie shown in a theatre could be full of scratches, dirt specks and other problems, especially around the reel changes. Several factors have contributed to improved picture quality.
First, we play the movies a lot sooner these days than we did years ago. Most of the film prints we show are either brand new, or may have been in only one other theatre before we play them. Hence, less time for damage to occur. Film is also cleaner these days because we use a film cleaner on every showing, coupled with a chemical compound called Film-Guard that lubricates the film and keeps dirt and specks off.
Next, the film itself is more resistant to scratches and breakage than it used to be. Modern film is made from a special polyester compound and is almost unbreakable, so film breaks during shows are rare. We also use a special tape to make splices from one reel to the next, where in the old days we used glue.
Finally, the film is handled less today than it was in the past. In the old days, each reel was threaded and re-wound individually for every showing. Now, the film is loaded onto our platter system in one continuous strip, and threaded once for each show. No rewinding is necessary. In fact, human hands only touch the very beginning of the film during each show; the rest of the movie runs through the machine and back to the platter with little chance for damage.
January 7, 2004
Q. What's the deal with the Roxy bathrooms?
A. Well, let's see. If you're referring to the size of the rooms (admittedly, they're awful small), that can probably be attributed to the fact that when the theatre was built, the main objective was to get as many seats in as possible...so the rest rooms, the office, the lobby and the projection booth are all pretty small by today's standards. If you're referring to the limited "facilities" in the mens' room, that's because the theatre originally had only a ladies' room. The mens' room was installed in a converted broom closet in the early 1950s.
Q. I heard there is going to be another Lord of the Rings movie. How can this be?
A. It can't be. You heard wrong. There is not going to be another Lord of the Rings movie. Tolkien fans can take heart, however; a movie version of his earlier book "The Hobbit" is being planned.