Monday, January 24, 2005

APP.COM - @ Your Job: Movie theater manager

APP.COM - @ Your Job: Movie theater manager

My future!

@ Your Job: Movie theater manager

Published in the Asbury Park Press 1/24/05
NAME:Rick Eckart

AGE: 50

EDUCATION: Took courses in business law at Brookdale Community College in Middletown in 1974 and 1975. Graduated from Neptune High School in 1972.

TOWN: Ocean Township

EMPLOYER: Clearview Cinemas

JOB TITLE: Movie theater manager

JOB DESCRIPTION: I manage two movie theaters, Clearview Red Bank Arts Cinema and the Strathmore Cinema 4 in Aberdeen. The two theaters have a total of six screens and 25 employees.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR JOB? I used to be general manager of the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank and production stage manager at what was then the Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Bank Arts Center) in Holmdel. When my daughter was born, I didn't want to work such long hours. In 1988, I answered an ad in the New York Times for theater manager so I could work nights. That allowed my wife to work days.

SALARY AFTER FIVE YEARS: Between $60,000 and $65,000

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE? Normally, I come in around noon and work until 10. I handle most of the business before we actually open, which is around 3 p.m.

Once my staff comes in, we set up for the day. I am also out on the floor and handle any questions from staff, greet the customers when they come in and talk to the customers.

There are things, such as supplies, you have to order. You have to go through and answer e-mails.

I interact with the booking department to determine what films are going to play. We have a calendar of titles of what we are going to play and when over the next couple of months.

I do research on what I think will be successful or not and make my suggestions to the booking department, but they make the final decision. The customers frequently ask about titles. Some of the films I have never heard of, so I end up looking them up on the Internet. A lot of times, they have better suggestions that I do.

If we get a number of requests about a film, generally the people have read about it in the New York Times or they have done some Internet research on their own. They like the story lines, they like who is in it. They start asking, "Are you guys going to do play this?"

There are Web sites that have upcoming movies, like Greg's Previews on Yahoo. They are listed alphabetically. If you are patient and go through them, you find some gems. I also go to distributors and see what they have listed on their Web sites.

People in the booking office have seen a lot of these films at film festivals. Having seen them, they can say, "sounds really good, but it really isn't." But a sleeper hit like "Sideways" they know will be successful because they have seen it.

"Bad Education" opened last Friday. Generally the films are delivered here the Thursday before. Films come in cans on 20 minute reels. We splice it together so it runs as a single piece of film.

On Friday morning, I come in early, generally at 10 a.m. I play the film for myself. I need to watch as many of the films as possible to be able to explain to customers what the film is about, who is in it. I also make sure everything is correct, such as sound level and lighting.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB? It allows me time to spend with my children, which is the most important thing for me during the day before I come to work. I get home early enough, at about 10 p.m. so that my children are still awake and I have some time with them before they go to sleep.

I enjoy working with the customers. I enjoy working in Red Bank specifically. I have met a lot of very nice and very interesting people over the years in this theater.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB? The holidays can be difficult, because you are required to be open every holiday. Christmas Eve and Christmas can be difficult because it is such a very family-oriented holiday. For the last four years, I have taken Christmas Day off.

SUGGESTIONS FOR OTHER PEOPLE CONSIDERING THIS TYPE OF WORK: The best way is to start as a teenager working in a movie theater. You learn the business from the ground up.

First and foremost, the staff interacts with more customers that I do. A box-office cashier has to wait on virtually everyone who walks in the door. It teaches them how to work with people and they learn better customer service that way.

It also teaches them that the business is holidays, nights and weekends. So when they get older and want to do it full-time as an occupation, they are used to it. Basically you are working the times that everyone else is off.


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