Thursday, April 30, 2009

Formulas for Failure

Showing movies in a dining/drinking environment is far from a new idea. Many places have tried it and then stopped after initial interest petered out. Maybe they showed the wrong films. Anyway, I just heard of two local failures, local being Minneapolis, MN.

The first was a western themed restaurant called Bar Abilene. Some years ago they announced a policy of showing western movies on their multiple TV screens from opening through early afternoon. They publicized it as a fun thing one could do for lunch. I like the idea of a special time for special screenings, but here comes the kicker -- they ran whatever happened to be on the Western Encore Channel. Patrons caught on at once and the attraction soon turned into an annoyance if they didn't like the film. How much better if they came on purpose to see a specific short western like a Roy Rogers along with a western serial chapter like The Painted Stallion and a non-western cartoon. The same show could be run Monday thru Friday with a new show and especially serial chapter the next week. (Hmm, that sounds like an upcoming Café Roxy series.)

The second notable failure was a restaurant-theater that showed free cartoons every Saturday and Sunday for brunch. Again, a great idea and special show for a special time. Initial strong reaction should have built from week to week and insured return business and healthy word of mouth. The big mistake was throwing on commercial cartoon discs with no variety. Even the staunchest fan will have trouble watching all 17 Superman cartoons in a row, or an hour of Betty Boop or Popeye or an hour of anything.

Moral: Variety entertains.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Birth of Café Roxy Idea

I have sold public domain films for years-- to colleges, to companies like Alpha Video, to TV stations, for Online streaming, and, yes, to bars and coffee houses. The latter usually bought features. I always advised them to add some cartoons and make up shows that had variety. I don't know how many did. So while I had the idea 25 years ago, I never promoted it. I'm slow. Anyone can tell you that. But over all those years no one else has put out "Shows" for the particular use of bars, restaurants and coffee houses.

In February of this year (2009) a new customer wrote to me, Susan, who was setting up a "Cafe Revue" in Fresno, California. I started explaining to her why some films were in the public domain and which ones I thought might play well in a coffee house atmosphere today. She asked if she could just show films from Dollar Bins that were in the public domain. The answer, with caveats of "Buyer Beware" re. quality and those fearful FBI warnings, is -- well, YES, you can. Anyone can show public domain films to the public. I may be too honest for my own good. This set me to wondering what I could offer to venues like Susan's new venture that she could not get at Walmart. I came up with a lot that you can read more about at Café Roxy website.

Café Roxy is an idea, a simple idea, the idea that cafés, bowling alleys, bars, American Legion posts and Your Place can bring in customers during off hours or days if they --


Show films free to your customers and make money off increased food and drink sales. There is an eventual minor cost to acquire the programs from Festival Films, but in the spirit of Free Movies I will send the first program free. Put a poster, which I will also give you free, in your window a week ahead to announce the show at whatever time and date you pick. Talk the idea up with your regular customers who you see daily or weekly. Opening night arrives and...? How many show up? How well do they like the first show? Will they bring their friends next week? Try it and find out, and please let me know how you do.  I guess if you do order more shows, I'll know.

This Café Roxy idea is exploding in my head and at the website. I will have a lot more to say at this blogspot!