Digital Cinema Package Testing

PLANB Website User Posts: 105
Really soon I'm getting a lab to DCP convert my latest short film for film festival and cinema screenings. I have asked a few local cinemas about arranging a screening test for the DCP (since I doubt labs allow people in for QA testing) and they're charging me a minimum of $500 to test screen the short outside of running hours. Is this normal? Sure, it uses up a lot of electricity but something doesn't feel right. I said that I am a student but that didn't make an effect.
Any advice on how to pull this off without such a price tag? Or do I have to deal with it?
Thanks guys.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,833 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    Check with the lab. I have never done DCP, but, back in the day, when I took film to labs for timing and processing and telecine, QA was included. (Although the last film-film I produced was color-timed by the guy who timed "Phantom Menace," so our QA was basically telling him how fantastic it looked...)
    It's fairly normal for a theater to charge several hundred in rental. To screen, it's not just a matter of electricity. You have to have a manager, ticket seller, a protectionist, probably an usher, and concessions person, because they are still required to staff. Because they are coming outside of normal hours, the staff are getting overtime pay, probably at a "4-hour call" . Most theaters will allow rentals off-hours, but the assumption is you're renting for a paid event. A manager doesn't have authority to set prices--that's the owner/general manager. Regional manager if it's a chain theater.
    Since they are required to staff, possibly five people, overtime, for four hours, there's a real possibility that over half of that $500 pays the staff (usher, tickets, concessions are minimum-wage--call it $9/hour--at overtime--$14/hour--times four hours. That$168. Projectionist and manager make more. On overtime, maybe $20/hour. That's another $160. So, yeah, about $320 in salary.) Once operating cost is factored and added, it's not much profit.
    Invite friends, family, cast, crew, and make it a full screening. Charge couple bucks for tickets, and hand out audience response slips. Seeing your project on the big screen for the first time is momentous. Share that experience. Plus, the theater can sell concessions. Tickets can help you make back cost, and having an "real" screening in a theater makes you eligible for IMDB listing!