Drive in theater at a marina


Jul 3, 2012

I am extremely new to this industry but am interested in starting a drive in movie theater in a marina parking lot with ample space. The idea is to make a little money off of the admission tickets, but the real goal is to create exposure for the restaurant. Its my uncles marina and restaurant and he has already given me permission to use the lot. Zoning shouldnt be an issue as its a commercial/industrial property. I would say the lot space is about 200 x 300 ft and can fit at least 120 cars. The lot is rarely used for the restaurant because there another lot with plenty of space. I am looking into inflatable screens and have found some very good prices. The only thing that is really restricting the size of the screen is the lumens rating on most projectors. I was told that I would need about 16 sq ft per lumens. I was thinking about a screen that is 32.5 by 60 ft, but at 1950 sq ft that would require a projector that that has at least 31200 lumens. These projectors go for a ton of money. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to what my screen size should be, what projector to use, and if that much lumens is really necessary per sq ft. I am open to any suggestion and I thank you in advance.



Feb 19, 2009

You really have a lot to deal with here. Before i went C/E I actually did theater installation as my job in high school. You have a few major hurdles. I will try to break this down as simply as i can recall

1. If you sell tickets, you are a movie theater. You have to secure agreements with movie studios for the rights to show the films. They will take a cut based on the age of a film. Opening weekend movies will be anywhere from 90/10, to 75/25 Split. That means you take home 10-25% of the ticket sales, and the rest goes to the studios. There is nearly zero money in ticket sales. Older films will settle down to the 50/50 range. OLD films can be as low as 10/90. That being said, you need to sell consessions to make any money. You will also need a dedicated facility to house your projection equipment. Studios will provide you with Movie Posters, trailers, and marketing material for your theater. You are also provided with images to use in the local newspaper with showtimes.
a. To go along with this, you have to take into account the cost of the booth tab (total cost of equipment). There are two ways to go here.
1. Digital Cinema - Digital cinema is by no uncertain terms cheap. Sony's 4k Digital Cinema projector starts at 95,000 (21000 lumens), and you still have to supply the correct lens, and media server. This alone can reach nearly $150,000. Audio systems will go from ~5000 for a single speaker mono system, to ~35000 for a wireless in car FM system. Screens are built by companies such as harkness hall, and will run you from 15000-35000 depending on what type of screen you end up chosing.
2. Rolling stock (35mm). You can buy used projectors off ebay for 10,000. These are very delicate machines, and will require maintainence. Audio systems can be purchased second hand as well, dolby processors, an amp, and few speakers can be had for ~5000. The real expense of 35mm becomes the time. You have to build the movies yourself, splice the film, preview, and take care of the prints.
2. If you do not sell tickets, and are not turning a profit, you can get away with simply putting up a projector, securing your local city's proper permits, and displaying a movie. This would mean you are using a blu-ray player, a powerful PA, or DJ setup, and a professional projector such as :
These do use expensive xenon lamps that cost over 1,500 each. Their lamp life is also a shorter 750 hour than the standard 2500-3000 hours of a projector bulb. Pricing is not available, but based on consumer models, i'd expect this to be well over $50,000.

Movies on a large scale screen are extremely expensive. Sign up for harkness hall's screen selector. They have a ton if information about lumens, and contrast gain/loss.

Projector Central also has a VERY VERY good calculator.

And yes, inflatable screens have nearly zero gain, therefore you need a stronger projector in order to achieve the same brightness at the screen. A dedicated screen will be more expensive, but you probably won't need such an overpowered projector to get it bright enough. If you have more specific questions, feel free to ask here, or PM me.

Edit: Added link to the company i used to work for. I've been out of that piece of the industry for 15 years, but i'm sure they can answer any specific questions as well.
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