Christopher Campbell's The Moviegoer - All I Want for Christmas
by Christopher Campbell
December 22, 2008
Want to buy a multiplex? In the coming weeks or months, a number of National Amusements cinemas should be up for sale (against the vote of the company's president, Shari Redstone), and because of the way the economy is right now, and with the desperation of the chain's liquidation, they could be priced at a bargain. Unfortunately, they're still going to be too expensive for the likes of me. I'm just a cinephile who would know what to do with a multiplex if I somehow acquired one. Instead, the theaters will likely be swallowed by one of the big chains, probably Regal, who only otherwise keep things the same.
When I first read that Sumner Redstone was definitely going to sell off some of National Amusement's screens (nearly 600 in the U.S., plus some in the UK), the news reports noted that the chain would only hold onto its New York and Massachusetts locations (National Amusements is based in Dedham, MA). Having grown up with their Showcase-brand cinemas in Connecticut, some of which I worked at for a significant part of my life, I immediately fantasized about purchasing one of my old haunting grounds.
Too bad the economy is just as bad for me as it is for Redstone, and no banks would even think of loaning me the money, regardless of how many years experience I have in movie theater management. Actually, Redstone obviously has it much better than me. He didn't even have to worry about paying off that $800 million debt he was supposed to settle by December 19th, which has come and gone without the media mogul having to empty his pockets. According to Business Week, there wasn't anything the banks could do about the matter. After all, Redstone already defaulted on the debt, now he just has to pay it … sometime.
Actually, the "sometime" should still be rather soon, but apparently the extension was offered in order to keep Redstone's cinema unload from being a total fire sale. So that's one strike against my chances of picking up Showcase Bridgeport for nothing. Another strike appears to be Business Week's claim that National Amusements is actually expected to keep all New England locations (and those in the UK). That would include all their cinemas I'm familiar with, except for one other training base in Virginia.
So here's what it's come down to as far as my hopes to become a movie theater owner: I'm wishing for a multiplex, of my own design, for Christmas. And I've even written the following letter to deliver to the big man up at the North Pole:
For Christmas, I would like a multiplex, no more or less than 12 screens in size, with only half of these screens being equipped with digital projectors, primarily for the capability to show 3-D films. One of those digital auditoria shall actually be an IMAX screen. Regardless of where it is located, alcohol will be available (if there's anything you can do about the antiquated ban on alcohol in New York cinemas, I would greatly appreciate it). Not all the auditoria will permit alcohol, of course, just a few that will not allow minors (who shall have one house that doesn't allow adults). All seats shall be of the large, reclining variety (for ideas, check out the movie studios' screening rooms), and the last row and first row (which shouldn't be too close to the screen) of each auditorium shall consist of couches. As for the edible concessions, the options will be rather simple. Popcorn is all that's really necessary, though because you like cookies, those shall be available, as well. By the way, you will of course have a lifetime pass.