This Week on the Boxoffice Podcast: Warehouse Cinemas and Opening a Movie Theater Mid-Pandemic

Image courtesy Warehouse Cinemas

In this week’s episode of the Boxoffice Podcast, Boxoffice Pro Editorial Director Daniel Loria and Deputy Editor Rebecca Pahle sit down with Rich Daughtridge: Board Member of Mid-Atlantic NATO and the Independent Cinema Alliance (which is now offering six months of free membership), Advisory Board Member of NATO, and one of the founders of Frederick, Maryland’s Warehouse Cinemas, which opened its doors for the very first time in September, 2020.

In this exclusive Boxoffice Podcast interview, Daughtridge discusses the challenges in opening the cinema smack-dab in the middle of a global pandemic—and the opportunities to be found in reaching out to local government officials.

Rich Daughtridge On… Using Hyperlocal Marketing to Attract Audiences

What are the movies that are out there right now? War with Grandpa. Honest Thief. Even movies like On the Rocks. What is some content out there that people just don’t know about because there isn’t marketing behind it from the studios or the distributors? We [told ourselves], Okay, that’s a huge challenge. But some of these films are actually pretty good. So what are we going to do about that? … We’ve simply gone to our local media companies—the newspaper, the radio stations—and we basically said, “Look, we have no money right now. We have films that are coming out that no one knows about, and we need you. What we can offer you is on screen advertising. We can offer you trade. But we need your help, especially now. And it’ll be a long term partnership to get the word out for us on a hyperlocal basis on these movies that no one’s heard of.”… And so every week now, the word has been has been getting out on those films in our immediate region of Frederick, Maryland, the western part of DC. And, surprisingly, we’ve essentially taken over the role of marketing for the studios and have actually been doing pretty good with the grosses.

On… Getting the Governor of Maryland to Come Visit Warehouse Cinemas

Early on, we just—via the commerce department, mostly—kept the the conversation going. We were respectful along the way. [We] had multiple conversations with the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary Schulz. John Fithian and others from NATO were on those calls. I helped convince them at some point—along with NATO and the ICA and everyone else—that moviegoing was safe. When the time came for Maryland to reopen, I had asked: “I would love for the Governor to come out and basically do a tour.” And I think we got a call the day before: “Hey, he’s coming to Frederick. He would love to join you.” And he literally sat there and watched some trailers with Secretary Schulz. Governor Hogan has been a big advocate of ours. But there was a tendency to potentially get frustrated, because Maryland was one of the last states to open…. I think it’s a case of respectfully disagreeing and telling them that consistently. And calling them and emailing them and finding any delegate or Senator in the state to listen to you.”

On… Showmanship 2.0 and Saving the Day for Moviegoers

I think [the industry is] in a period of going back to some of those basics of showmanship. I feel like it’s like showmanship 2.0. We almost have to, from a front end—probably a social media perspective, a digital media perspective—cast the feeling of going to the movie theater, and then when [moviegoers] show up deliver on that promise. We have a brand promise that all of our team members get trained on, and it’s simply this: Save the day…. The consumer has been in their home, and they’ve been working on Zoom all day. For those next two hours, let’s do whatever it takes to just save the day for them. Let’s give them great presentation, picture, and sound. Let’s give them good food. Let’s give them drink options. All those things. If it’s a mom that has three kids in tow, take their popcorn to the seat with them. You’re saving the day for that mom. That mom needs those two hours to basically disconnect.

Listen to the entire episode below or on your favored podcast platform:

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