Who Determines Which Theater Screens A Movie Is Screened?

I am referring to which of the multiplex screens - the one with most seats or fewest seats - a movie is screened in.

I went to see Charlie Wilson’s War today and the (smaller of the 12 screening areas) was jammed packed, but I took a quick peek to see that some of the other larger theater areas were not so packed with audiences.

So, is this a regional manager’s job to say, “Hmm, National Treasure will be a big hit so we will show it in the 600 seat theater, but that other film will go to the 140 seat theater.”

Or is this decided by corporate that tells theaters which of the multiplex screens (number of seats) a film will be screened at?

Just wondering.

This is a guess, DMark, but I believe they contract it to show in specific auditoriums. My sister worked for a while for a company that would go to multiplexes and enter the auditoriums before the start of the movie and count the number of seats in the theatre. The theatre managers always let her in whenever she showed her audit order from the company.


In my experience as a moviegoer, they start showing the movies (at least the big “blockbuster” types) in the biggest theaters, then new movies come in the next week so the old ones get moved down to the slightly smaller theaters, and so on, until finally they get in the really dinky one that seems to have a smaller screen than some of those TV’s they sell now. New movies push old ones down, but really bad performers move down faster. And of course, I assume that the lower profile movies wouldn’t start in the biggest theaters to begin with.

Basically, if I want to see it on the biggest screen, I know to go the first week.

As for who decides which exact film on which exact screen at any particular time, I can’t answer that, but I’d assume it would ultimately be up to whoever makes all the other decisions, how many times a day to run it, at what times of day to run it, how many different screenings of the same movie at one time, etc. I’d guess the theater manager, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone higher up in the company had some input when it comes to the big chains.