How you can tell if a movie will be going to the cheap theater?

I guess these are second-run movies. But not all first-run movies end up there.
For instance, right now at the first-run theatres:
2012, Pirate Radio, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Ninja Assassin, Couples Retreat, Old Dogs, ThisIsIt, Disney’s A Christmas Carol

And here are the ones playing at the second-run places, which are much cheaper and generally have better food:

Astro Boy, Couples Retreat (Hmmm!), Julia & Julie, The Hangover, Law-Abiding Citizen, Paranormal Activity, The Informant, Zombieland

I’m not sure I want to pay first-run prices to see 2012 or Men Who Stare at Goats, and I probably won’t get around to Pirate Radio until it’s at Netflix. But if I see 2012 at all, I think it has to be in a theatre, or there’s no point. And in general, I’d kind of prefer to see anything in a theatre.

So is there some clue about how to tell which movies are going there and which ones just aren’t?

You have second-run theatres where you live?

The last one within a reasonable drive (less than one hour) closed around here over fifteen years ago.

You could ask the manager at the second run theater. They likely have some idea what they’ll be getting in the near future.

Also, the second run theater I go to has Coming Soon posters hanging up for first run movies they’ll be getting in the next few weeks. I can’t imagine 2012 not going to the second run theater eventually though.

From what I understand the rule thumb is about 10 weeks after general release for an average grossing film. If the movie has legs however and turns out to be a big hit, three or four months is more like it.

There’s no hard and fast rule here, but in general, second-run discount theaters show movies aimed at a broad, mainstream, multiplex audience. Arthouse movies, generally, don’t get shown at discount theaters.

So, in my opinion, “2012” will DEFINITELY be showing at your local discount theater eventually. But “Men Who Stare at Goats” and “Pirate Radio”? I wouldn’t count on it. If you REALLY want to see those movies on a big screen, go to a matinee and see them now.

I miss ours, too … they all closed down circa 2001.

Slight hijack: What kind of markets support second-run theaters in 2009? And in places where they aren’t around anymore … what happened to their business models?

Our second-run theaters tend to be in the type of areas that support second-tier retailers: discount grocers, low-end furniture and appliance stores and lower-status car dealersn and near a lot of entry-level subdivisions.

They tend to show movies that appeal to young families and teenagers looking for a cheap night out. I’d guess what’s killing them is more big-screen TVs and cheap DVDs.

Word. The one closest to me can be counted on to have “family-friendly” movies there for a long, long time, sometimes even after the DVD is released.

The second-run theaters here (Cincinnati area) have hits, and also seem to have a lot of horror movies, even those that bombed.

They actually have a couple of art-house type movies. One has “Good Hair” and another has “The Invention of Lying”.

In Tacoma, we have the The Blue Mouse and in nearby Federal Way an honest to goodness second run multiplex. The Blue Mouse is a very cosy refurbished theater in a college neighborhood with a cult following. Mostly they do the big name movies, although limited releases like 500 Days of Summer and Amelia have played there this fall. Haven’t been to the multiplex so don’t know who goes there.

I agree that 2012 is almost a sure thing for a second run. But I also think that The Men Who Stare at Goats will have a second run - the cast of George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey make it marketable enough.

As a former owner/operator of a second run movie theatre, I’ll second asking the manager. If it is an independent theatre, the person you talk to may be the actual person who decides what movies to book.

If they are playing The Informant, I don’t see why they wouldn’t pick up The Men Who Stare at Goats. Both films seemed to be aimed at a similar audience.
There are some variations from the different distribution companies. Some let their films go sub-run faster than others. Sometimes your sub-run theatre may get offered more product than they have screens, so they may take a pass on something due to that.

But talk to the manager and let them know you want to see certain films or types of films, you just may be surprised.