As we all continue to ride the current pandemic wave and as the 2021 Holiday season is now behind us, more and more people are returning to cinemas for the movie theatre experience. That may sound great on the surface, but theatre attendance numbers compared to 2019 and prior are still somewhat dismal, but it is rebounding.
To be able to continue the upward trend, movie theatre operators must make adjustments according to the moderate new influx of patrons, coupled with the reported continued issue of staffing shortages.
According to Forbes just prior to the pandemic, “Movie theaters already feel somewhat under siege as their customers, many of whom have been faithful moviegoers for decades, are presented with more and more content options. Cinemas have traditionally been able to weather virtually any storm thrown at them. In the 1950s television was supposed to have been the death knell for movie theaters. The same was to have been the case in the 1980s when home video exploded and we were all making trips to Blockbuster. Through all of these seismic entertainment changes, Hollywood and movie theaters have not only survived but have flourished.”
Now, add the pandemic to the list coupled with streaming services as reasons why attendance is still quite low, relative to pre-pandemic numbers.
Create a better theatre, and they will come.
Turning to automation has become a critical choice when planning on how to get more people in seats and controlling a theatre’s overall budgetary expenses. About nine years ago when the majority of auditoriums had been converted to digital, automation became even more important due to letting go of past restrictions and opening up new areas of possible profit.
With an automated theatre, managers can provide auditoriums with the ability to be rented for presentations, live events, etc. by showing content from media components such as a Blu-Ray players, laptops, satellite TV boxes, media servers, etc. It can also enable PA microphones for the presenters, so you can also show live sports and other events.
TMS (Theatrical Management System)
In the digital era, automation begins with the TMS (Theatrical Management System) where you can load content (i.e. movies, ads, trailers, etc), you can build the SPL (show playlists), schedule show playlists per auditorium based on the POS (point of sales) schedules, and then transfer those packages to the servers located at each auditorium of the theatre. You can even control the TMS of the entire theatre chain from a central office.
Exhibitors need a device or devices to play the content (server) and also a device to receive commands from the server and execute orders such as ceiling lighting control, wall lighting control, janitor lighting control, fire alarm script execution, turn on / off AC power on the different equipment to save energy, get temperature readings and send commands to turn off equipment when needed, etc. Also, with automation you can control the audio processor macros, volume, control projector macros, server macros, etc.
In the end, all of this allows for cost savings due to less required manpower since most of the operational components are running automatically. For example, in the U.S., the majority of the theatres now only operate with a shift manager and ticket sales, concession and janitorial personnel. There’s no need to staff projection, audio, or TMS equipment personnel.
All facility managers want their equipment to work correctly when necessary, and also want to save the company money at the same time. A preventive maintenance plan keeps equipment operating efficiently and increases your bottom line not necessarily in the short term, but most definitely in the long run by helping avoid large and costly repairs down the road.
It’s generally accepted that reactive maintenance will cost a business three to four times more than a preventive maintenance program.
There are multiple benefits to preventive maintenance, all of which result in better operations and saved money for your business, including:
§ Helps keep equipment operating efficiently longer.
§ Helps optimize the reliability, efficiency, brightness and lifetime of your projector.
§ May be necessary if a component is under warranty; otherwise a reactive plan may void the warranty altogether (and be aware that both preventative and reactive repairs may need to be performed by a certified technician so as to not void the warranty).
§ Reduces downtime for emergency maintenance.
§ Reduces/eliminates possible overtime being paid to qualified technicians who may have to come in on weekends or off hours to fix a problem, or problems that could have been avoided.
§ Improves your theatre’s reputation; if you continually have emergency maintenance affecting your day-to-day operations, that could prove frustrating to your customers who may get fed up and take their business to another theatre that is not routinely putting up signs such as “Excuse Our Mess” or “Theatre Closed for Maintenance”.
A preventive maintenance program makes the disruption of operations either non-existent, or at the very least kept to an affordable minimum.
“We at CES+ know the value of automation, TMS, and preventive maintenance, and we want to work with our customers to put such plans in place that are not cookie cutter, but devised precisely for their specific needs,” explained Juan Brea, CES+ Cinema Engineer. “From equipment to software, from on-site to remote maintenance, we have the ability to help in any way that is most beneficial to your specific operation.”
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