06 December, 2006

Franklin Cinema: How Not To Run A Business

Disclaimer-slash-Warning To Sarcastro: This post was written by a woman who is not entirely over the flu, and whose ears are so congested that it's making her dizzy. So forgive the whining, and the potential abrasiveness. Thanks.

Everybody's talking about the end of Franklin Cinema.

The short--and possibly mangled--version of the story is that the new Thoroughbred multiplex at Cool Springs has cannabilised FC's trade. That loss of revenue coupled with the steep rent increase has led the owner to throw in the towel.

Quotes like the following make me, as a consumer, quite angry:
“I really think that there’s not enough traffic to justify it operating as a cinema. It is very nostalgic, very heart-warming, everyone has stories from the Franklin Cinema, but what has happened is that the Cool Springs multiplexes have drawn most of the business from downtown Franklin. It just can’t compete with the digital, Dolby multi-screens playing 12 of the 15 latest movies,” [property owner Mark] Bloom said.

Why does that make me angry? Because I live in Hermitage. It takes me between 45 minutes and an hour to get to Franklin, yet over the years I have made the trip several times to patronise that specific theatre. I've never gone the same distance to go to Thoroughbred, and I never will. There are shiny movie crackerboxes all over this city, including Opry Mills. Which is only a 15 minute drive for me.

I went out of my way to do business at Franklin Cinema. I liked the idea of an old fashioned movie house. I liked the idea of reliving the movie experiences I had as a kid, and having some hot wings or pizza while I took in a flick. I've dragged out of town visitors there for the experience. I've been as much of a Franklin Cinema booster as one could be without actually owning the place. But over the years I've noticed something.

They decided to save money on things like soap. Trash collection. Mopping between showings. Patching torn seats. Fixing broken seats. Cleaning off the food/foot benches. (Yeah, those "benches" that are supposed to be for food, and say "do not place feet on bench". The ones where people constantly put their feet. ) In the past 18 months, Franklin Cinema has become kind of gross. That, to my mind, is a failure on the part of the business management.

No, people are not going to drive out of their way to see a movie at your theatre if the experience is roughly akin to driving 30 miles to use a Port-a-John. Don't blame the multiplexes. Blame your lack of maintainence.

Right now a friend of mine is on her way to a filmcafe. She's driving a bit out of her way for the experience. All the way to Texas for the Alamo Drafthouse. If Franklin Cinema could pull off an Alamo
Drafthouse Franchise
you can bet your bottom dollar I'd drive down there to see almost all my in-theatre movies.


At 5:04 PM, December 06, 2006, Blogger John H said...

amen to everything you said. I loved (past tense definitely) the Franklin Cinema and have driven down I-65 many times so that I could eat pizza and watch a movie in an old-style movie house.

Lynn and I went down there about a month ago. Between the sticky floors, the lack of paper towels in the bathroom, and the search for a non-broken seat, we were dispirited.

There was a sign in the window proclaiming that the theater was probably going away. I certainly was not surprised. Yeah, Franklin main street property is pretty valuable, but you can't tell me that Williamson county gentry wouldn't pay to go to a cool well-appointed old-time movie house.

At 6:52 PM, December 06, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

Everything about the Franklin Cinema lately has struck a wrong note.

"Save the Franklin Cinema!" has been their cry. Save yourself. Belcourt was able to overcome the very same obstacles to remain viable.

I've long said that a Drafthouse concept would do very well in this town. Get someone who knows something about films to pick 'em and someone who knows something about marketing to pack 'em in.

At 8:50 PM, December 06, 2006, Anonymous Mister Nashville said...

The Cinema's troubles are two-fold. The first is exactly as you stated. The place has become disgusting. Secondly, the people who own the building are charging a stupid amount of rent because it is in the "historic downtown" area. But, it's tough to justify some noble movement to he lp them pay their rent when they don't care about my comfort when I'm there. I don't want the place to die, but who wants to help folks that have no intentions of helping themselves?

At 11:15 AM, December 07, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

YES! Thank you. We were most excited about 840 letting us get to Franklin Cinema without risking our lives on Highway 96.

And then they started letting the place go to crap. Or showing the same crap everybody else was showing. It simply is not worth the trip to support a facility whose owners don't care. (Whatever happened to Chris Clark owning the place? Or was that just one of our local urban legends? Because it seems that right after I heard that he was selling it, all this started. I've not kept up with it like I should, but still.)

It's why we patronize the independently owned Premiere 6 in Murfreesboro, Because it RULES. (And the kids' snack meal is only $2.50 for a drink, popcorn, candy and collectible cup! Woo!)

At 2:07 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before moving to Franklin 7 years ago, we lived in a town near Lake Michigan. They too, had their little community theatre, but showed great movies and charged less. While my husband was busy on weekends studying for his Master's Degree, I spent the weekend at the movies! So, naturally when we moved here I was excited to see a theatre similar to that in Michigan. It is sad to see them close. It is even sadder to know that a big part of the reason is greed on part of the landlord. Yes, Franklin is going up in value, but traditions like the Franklin Cinema are what makes that value rise. Shame on the owners of the cinmea for slacking off in their diligence for keeping it a clean and healthy environment that people want to patronize. I too, have noticed the decline in conditions there. Also, last time I was there it seemed like no one was interested in even selling me a ticket to get in, or be speedy to serve the concessions so that patrons didn't miss most of the movie just because they wanted popcorn. It will be greatly missed, but some great smart entropenur will hopefull see the potential and re-establish it to it's glory.

At 2:13 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the owners of the Franklin cinema weren't really interested in doing whatever it takes to save their theatre. About a year ago, my husband whose company hosts many business conferences with their employees from around the country, asked me to contact the Franklin cinema to request a private screening of a movie for one of their meetings. Now I had a sizeable budget, we were going to pay for a 1st run film, and pay to have the theatre for the entire eveining (we're talking about $8,000 - $10,000.00 for the night) and they refused to rent it to us because it would be an evening event and they might lose movie customers that evening. Really, do you think that they would have made $8,000 in movie and concession sales from the general public in one night?? So, instead they lost that money and the potential for future events to be held there. - - By the way, the company also was providing a seperate budget to purchase all food and drink from them for the evening as well. No wonder they can't keep their doors open. What a missed opportunity for income and publicity.


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