Revive Second Run Movie Theatres in Small Towns

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I live in Port McNeill BC Canada. If you look us up on google maps you’ll see we live 200 km (2 hour drive) away from a major centre - well Campbell River isn’t really major but it does have a movie theatre and Starbucks.

I head up a Charitable organization for the Arts.

Our organization runs After School Drama programs, Open Mic, Live theatre, live music events, ladies nights, and community events out of an old 1970's strip mall movie theatre. 

We’ve been in the space since 2011 slowly renovating it into a performance facility.  From the beginning we’ve played Pre-Release movies as a fundraiser to help pay the bills. (Kind of like a gift shop in a museum contributes to the cost of running the museum)

The excitement was palatable in the community when we opened our doors.

“We have a ‘real’ theatre!” kids bragged. 

You see not everyone can afford to travel down island to bring their kids to the latest movies - or even for a movie date night. (It's a minimum 6 hour commitment) Attending 2nd run movies at our little theatre is almost better than 1st run movies down island because it’s affordable and it’s here.

But times have changed since we opened our doors. Little towns all over North America have lost their movie theatres.  

Why, you ask?

Let me explain.

In 2011 when I looked at Criterion ( ) or Audio Cine ( ) for pre-release movies titles to book there were many movies available weeks before the DVD release date. (In order to show a movie publicly it must have a 2nd release date given by the studios. Also you must have a Public Performance License from the 2 companies that represent the studios in Canada: Criterion and ACF.

At that time early digital release platforms, such as iTunes, didn't exist, therefore we were able to provide an amazing entertainment opportunity for our small isolated town.

Sadly this is no longer the case.

For example: 

Today (Feb 28, 2019) I can buy an award winning animated movie off of iTunes but I cannot show it at our theatre. 

Why? Because the studio has not released a Pre-Release Date for Public performances.  It has a DVD release date of March 5th, but we cannot play this particular movie at the theatre, even if it's on DVD, with out that release date.

I cannot even go to the theatre, lock the doors, invite my grandchildren, and watch that movie. Our space is considered a public space and, therefore, even private events require a public performance license, which is impossible to receive without the studio releasing a 2nd run date. 

Why have the studios discontinued to provide timely 2nd run release dates? I don't know. I can only guess it's because they either don't care about our puny market or they are ignorant of the effect of their policies.  It’s not like there are thousands of 2nd Run theatres left. We’re not even a small fish in this ocean.  We’re maybe plankton. 

So why am I starting this petition?

Because I choose to believe no one in the industry has thought about the consequences early digital release and late, or no, Pre-release dates, have had on small isolated places like us. 

I'm asking the leading studio conglomerates to adjust Pre-Release dates to match early Digital release dates.  (Or earlier)

I also believe something magical is possible if the studios start thinking about and supporting the little people on the edges: a revival of small town 2nd run theatres.

What would happen to our world if community was build instead of isolation? All the major studios are creating online platforms and gaming platforms. This encourages isolation.  Kids alone staring at their tablet or tv playing video games. They are losing out by not sharing in the social experience of an Aha! moment, a truth, a fright, beauty, love, or pain on the big screen with other human beings.  

We have the chance to encourage the Studios to give back to the grass roots. We have the chance to maybe even rejuvenate a portion of the entertainment industry the studio heads think is dead.

I’m not starting this petition to save our small town theatre or our charitable organization. We can survive without showing films.  I’m fighting to save a piece of culture, art, and entertainment available to the masses who live in cities but is void in small isolated places. But I need your help. Please support and share this petition.