SAVE THE PLAZA !
Dear Friends of the Plaza,
Due to widespread coverage of the change facing movie exhibitors, the time has come to address the digital conversion issue and how it pertains to the Plaza Maplewood Theatre.
For those of you who might not be aware, there is a major shift in technology happening within the film exhibition business. Rather than rehash this, please let me point out a recent article in the Star and Tribune which does an excellent job of laying out the issue.
I somewhat disagree with some of the sentiments in this article related to the quality perceived by customers. Having converted to digital at the Woodbury 10 Theatre (which I own with a partner), I can categorically state that the difference in quality between digital and film is night and day. This is mainly due to the difference in the age/upkeep of equipment and the quality of film prints. If the Plaza were to convert to digital, being that we get our films “later” than other theatres, the difference would be astronomical. No more black and green lines through your presentation due to the carelessness of the theatre that played the movie before us!
The biggest unanswered question is will the Plaza convert to digital and stay in business past next year? There are two major issues that must be dealt with before this question is answered definitively.
Issue #1 – The Cost
The cost to convert the Plaza to digital will be somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000. Even though the above article mentions cost incentives for theatres to convert, these incentives are not extended to discount operations such as the Plaza. This means I will have to front the entire cost of the projectors myself and hope for a return on my investment. This is a staggering risk with a rather large price tag.
Issue #2 – The Lease
To even begin to think about procuring a return on an investment of $150K, I would have to have a long-term lease from the Plaza’s land-owner – Woodland Hills Church – the entity that occupies the building directly next to the Plaza.
I have owned and operated the Plaza Maplewood Theatre for nearly 15 years. It is my sincere desire to continue to operate this little gem of a neighborhood theatre for another 15 years. Here are three things you can do to help insure that the Plaza stays in business past 2013.
- WRITE to Woodland Hills Church
- Please tell them how the Plaza Maplewood Theatre benefits this community by not only being the only discount theatre east of the river but the last truly second-run theatre in the state! We are the last theatre left to charge $2 per seat and $1 on Tuesdays. Every other theatre that had this admission policy has either changed it or gone out of business. Please tell them how this theatre benefits you in whatever way you personally experience it. Please encourage them to renew our lease for a minimum term of 10 years so that we can continue to provide this valuable service to the community.
- Woodland Hills Church
ATTN: Jodi Cremers
1740 Van Dyke Street
St. Paul, MN 55109
Please be sure you WRITE as opposed to calling. Letters carry much more weight.
- Please tell the city of Maplewood how much you appreciate this theatre being here. Please tell them that they should actively seek to protect and nurture this 45 year old historical theatre. Tell them your story of how the Plaza benefits you and the community in these difficult economic times.
- City of Maplewood
ATTN: Will Rossbach, Mayor
1830 County Road B East
Maplewood, MN 55109
Again, please be sure you WRITE as opposed to calling. Letters carry much more weight.
I have appreciated the immense community support over the last 15 years. Every dollar that you spend at the Plaza will get us closer to our goal. We have special plastic movie soda cups and popcorn tubs that you can buy where the extra revenue goes directly into the conversion fund. We have donation jars where you can throw in a little extra if you are able. But most importantly, we just want to give you a great cinematic experience at a fraction of the price you’d pay at any other theatre. We look forward to continuing to provide you with this unique entertainment experience.
I told this story once on Facebook, but it seems appropriate to close with it now. When I was a young boy growing up, my parents worked two jobs to make ends meet. We were not a wealthy family and discount theatres were the only way we saw movies. In those days, discount theatres were prevalent and growing up on the “west side” of the suburbs, my parents took my sister and I to second-run theatres such as the Excelsior Dock 3, the Ridge Square 3, the Apple Valley 6 and the Terrace in Minneapolis. These theatres are all gone now. In fact, the Plaza Maplewood Theatre is one of only four discount theatres serving the entire Twin Cities area. And of those four, our pricing has remained the lowest. I am proud to carry on this valuable service of discount movie going for those on a budget or those who simply refuse to pay the high prices.
I look forward to continuing to serve you past 2013. With your help, the Plaza’s screens will be lit far, far into the future.
Plaza Maplewood Theatre
Owner/Operator since 5/01/1998
The overseers of Woodland Hills Church have asked me to post the following:
From June 1, 2002 to May 31, 2012, the Plaza had a 10 year lease which helped us obtain financing to improve the roof and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
In May, 2012, I requested a 3 year lease renewal so that I could research the digital transition process and see if it was viable for the Plaza. I requested a $250/month rent concession to help with the financing of the digital projection equipment should it be a viable project, and Woodland Hills granted both requests to assist in the transition to digital equipment.
The Plaza pays well below market rent to Woodland Hills Church and this is why the Plaza’s ticket prices have continued to remain so affordable.
I apologize if the previous information posted was in any way misleading.
Negotiations with Woodland Hills church continue to go well and I am expecting a positive answer soon. Thank you to everyone who has helped with this endeavor, your letters have been heard!
There will be a very special event coming up involving the Mayor of Maplewood and the Plaza Theatre! I am really looking forward to this event and more information will be forthcoming!
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who has written letters in support of the Plaza! We are making real progress!
Plaza Maplewood Theatre
Owner/Operator since 5/01/1998