Repair Fundraising

The largest hurdle to reopening the New Park Cinema is the amount of money it will cost to repair the theater’s property. While the building and most of the seats are undamaged, the theater’s infrastructure (HVAC, plumbing and electrical) will all need updating. In addition, the cost of the projectors range between $5000 and $20000 per screen, depending on quality and functionality. For this project to get started, we will need to raise between $150000 and $250000, which will determine the level of upgrades the theater will receive.

We are in the process of researching grants, but they are not part of our funding plan (it has been suggested that investing in lotto tickets might be more successful then waiting for a grant). Our business plan calls for raising roughly $125000 through crowd funding, and another $25000-$50000 through corporate sponsorship and advertising. We have put a bottom number of $100000 on the project- we believe we can restore the theater on that number- but it will not be what we envisioned for the theater.

The New Park Cinema Society will file as a Non-Profit Organization 510(c)(3), which will allow donations (including through Kickstarter) to be tax-deductible. The filing will require that all funds raised be used exclusively for the repair and management of the theater, and yearly audits will be conducted to prove it. Additionally, we are researching historical status on the building, with the aid of the building’s owners.

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KICKSTARTER is the crowdfunding platform we will use once we are ready to begin fundraising. Unlike other funding sites, Kickstarter does not allow us to solicit donations – we must reward our backers for their participation. This creates a sense of ownership in the project, and allows us to distribute promotional items on a national scale. There are two main factors in our decision to use Kickstarter: the first is that we been advisers to numerous successful projects on Kickstarter; and the second is that other theaters in similar situations have successfully raised funds through Kickstarter.

Here are successful Kickstarter projects involving theaters:

  1. Cinefamily Digital Projection & Theater Restoration, in Los Angeles, CA, had 1,372 backers that pledged $158,541.
  2. Restore the Rialto Theater, in Grayling, MI, had 699 backers that pledged $107,695.
  3. Seats for the Globe Theater Restoration in Bertram, TX, had 125 backers that pledged $26,246.
  4. Restore the Roxy in Philadelphia, PA, had 479 backers that pledged $47,776.
  5. Block Island’s Empire Theatre in Block Island, RI, had 283 backers pledged $60,178

All of these projects – and dozens more – reached their goals (whether it was a small upgrade or a complete overhaul) on Kickstarter. If you are curious about more success stories, they are scattered throughout the web, such as in this article. We are in the process of analyzing their success and trying to take the best of their ideas and incorporate them into our campaign.

As previously noted, sponsorship and promotional items will help us generate funds on a national level. We will combine this with a social media blitz and hope that our message gets out to all who support cinema and historic buildings. Here are some of the reward types we will offer:


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Movie Licensing

After lenghty consideration, the New Park Cinema Society does not believe the current location of the New Park Cinema will allow it to remain competitive as a standard “new release” cinema. The lack of parking and small seating areas prevent it from having the draw of other area theaters; additionally, many of the local competitive theaters have had significant upgrades to both their seating and projectors, making them very good venues. For the New Park Cinema to survive, it is going to have to find a niche market.

As we are requesting government grants and seeking non-profit status, we must be fully licensed in every aspect – including copyright and licensing on what we show on our screens. Unlike smaller venues, we cannot simply “throw in a Disney DVD” or connect our screens to the local stations to watch the Giants play. Doing so on a large format screen with an audience could result in fines that would shut the theater down. Therefore, we needed to find a legally viable source of entertainment for our patrons.

Our initial research has lead us to seek deals with three possible companies, in addition to Verizon. One of the simplest and most important licenses we need to obtain is the MPLC Umbrella License, which will allow us to show previously released movies from a large number of studios- including Disney and 20th Century Fox- at no additional charge, assuming we do not charge a specific ticketing fee for them (they would be free to any who paid the general admission). There are notable studios not included in the Umbrella License, but we believe its catalog better suits our vision of what the theater needs to be successful in the long term.

We will also create an account with two individual release movie companies; Criterion and Swank motion pictures. Both of these companies supply current movies from all motion picture studios for a fee. Generally these companies put a delay between when the movie was released and when we can screen it; for independent films it is sometimes as little as 14 days, while major releases can have a delay of up to 90 days from their initial release. With these films, we have the option of selling tickets for specific showings. We would primarily purchase independent films (those not being shown at regional theaters), or specialty purpose films.

Between Criterion and Swank, we will have access to a large number of “community driven” movies. These are movies that are well known within a specific community (such as a religion or nationality) but not well known to the general public. These movies often have limited distribution as the major theater chains to not pick them up. By regularly scheduling these movies, it is possible that a loyal community will form within the theater, further promoting the theater for us. Here are some examples of recent “community driven” films and features:

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Proposal for Parking

Anyone who has lived in Roselle Park long enough to remember the New Park Cinema in operation will also remember the traffic nightmare it caused on Westfield Avenue, and the rain-soaked walks from the municipal parking to the theater. As teleportation has not become a viable option, this will be a problem that continues to haunt the theater property, and most likely will for its entire operation.

The NPCS is currently open to ideas regarding this problem. Our current situation is a costly and aggravating one: a drop-off zone directly in front of the theater (which would have a no-parking restriction during the theater’s operating hours), and paid valet parking on weekends and for special events. To facilitate the Valet parking, we would need at least two porters. Vehicles to be valeted would pull into the driveway along the side of the theater, where the valet would be responsible for turning the vehicle around and driving it to municipal parking, which may be more than two blocks away.

Of course an obvious solution to parking is the opening or subdivision of the Sullivan Chevrolet lot, but that is its own issue.

Proposal for Children’s Theater

IMG_4847The right corner theater, which we will refer to as either Theater 4 or the Children’s Theater, will have a significant transformation under our proposal. We intend on removing between half and two-thirds of the seating, and converting the remainder into a functioning “Nightcare” center.

This transformation will rely on both functionality and regulation, as there are several laws involved in the safety and well-being of children in our care. This venue will require a number of state-mandated changes including a securely locked door with a keypad; an internal bathroom for the children; potentially a private waiting area for children who are feeling sick; and a secured refrigerator for snacks and medications provided by parents. The exact design of this room will be determined by a NJ Certified Child Care expert.

To legally operate this room, we will need to employ a licensed children’s supervisor and at least one or more assistant (based on the legal ratio of children to employees). Our initial research points to “School-aged” children between the ages of 4 and 12, operating from the hours of 4pm to 11pm.

To keep the children entertained, the screen would have a combination of children’s movies and television (as allowed under the MLPC Umbrella License). There would be activity tables with games and learning activities for multiple age groups, and a rest area for children that wish to rest. All of this would be overseen by the theater employees to ensure children are supervised at all times. Pick-up and drop-off procedures would be established, as would emergency contact information with the parents.

Child care would be at an up-charge; it is intended to allow parents to drop off their children and enjoy their evening knowing their child is safe and secure. There will be food available for purchase, and parents may leave snacks for their children at no additional charge. We are also considering lockers which can be rented for children that frequent the venue.

Below is a sample floor plan modified from a similarly sized theater. The actual blueprints for this theater will not be made public until after construction is done (and will be maintained by the Borough of Roselle Park for safety considerations).

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Proposal for eSports / CCG Arena

IMG_4847The right corner theater, which we will refer to as either Theater 5 or the eSports Arena, will have a significant transformation under our proposal. We intend on removing between half and two-thirds of the seating, and building  a platform to level the rear half of the theater. Additionally we will install a satellite concession stand (cold snacks and drinks) and administration desk towards the venue entrance.

This transformation sets up the venue for two additional sources of income: eSport Gaming, and Collectible Card Gaming. Both of these are proven revenue sources, with numerous methods of up-charge potential.

While it is impossible to make this a secure area, the entire room will be under constant supervision to prevent the misuse of equipment. Safety will be of paramount importance, and regularly scheduled events will allow parents the freedom to watch films or enjoy a night out while their kids are occupied in a safe environment. Here are some of the activities we will have in this venue:

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Gaming PC stations will be positioned along the walls of platformed area. Admission to the gaming area will be covered under general admission, but usage of the computers will be charged in 15 minute increments. Game Center software currently on the market allows for charge accounts to be established (by parents or anyone over 18) for pre-paid game time; a notification on the computer informs the player how much time they have remaining. Additionally, parents can set a budget for snacks / etc.

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The center of the leveled platform would be for gaming tables (lifetime tables and folding chairs). General admission would allow unlimited usage of these tables. As an up-sell, the administration desk would have collectible cards for sale, as well as accessories for the cards. We may charge additional fees for certain tournaments, depending on the prizes. Our work with Hasbro games has made us an expert in marketing to this field, and we know the niches that can be utilized.

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Our previous work with the gaming industry has shown us that central NJ lacks a large venue with a dedicated play area. There are many shops that devote the majority of their attention to the better selling games, leaving limited time and space for the non-collectible games, such as board games or pen-and-paper roleplaying games. The size and space of our gaming area will create a unique location for these hobbyists. We anticipate that our weekly game nights will be supported by local gaming groups (including the thousands of local members on Meetup.com)

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A recent aspect of eSports is a devoted spectator base. Fans will actually pay money to watch top rated gamers compete in video or card games in a tournament. According to OnGamers.com, in 2015, approximately 25% of Americans between the ages of 21 and 35 watched an eSports event at least once per week. The 2015 Magic: the Gathering CCG Grand Prix tournament had more players than the World Series of Poker.

The New Park Cinema will retain its theater screen and limited seats to broadcast tournament coverage of special events. As the projector will be web-enabled, we will run content relevant to gamers, primarily through third party content providers. Should we develop a good player base, we will try to recruit sponsors to run ads on the screen between tournaments.

Below is a sample floor plan modified from a similarly sized theater. The actual blueprints for this theater will not be made public until after construction is done (and will be maintained by the Borough of Roselle Park for safety considerations).

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