The initial response has been strong. The cinema had more than 900 visitors its opening weekend, said Brandon Jones, director of operations and marketing for Nova Cintech. "We sold out three different shows," he said.
Nova Cinetch, a seven-year-old company based in the Chicago suburb of Yorkville, operates 80 screens in eight states, but this is the first time it's tried the "intermediate run" concept. The company's president, Buck Kolkmeyer, seemed surprised at how well the newly opened theatre did. Of the 15 theatre complexes Nova owns, Moline's had the third-highest attendance on Monday night. "It was better than a lot of our first-run theatres," he said.
Kolkmeyer said the "intermediate run" label "used to be the kiss of death" for a movie theatre because a film just ended its run elsewhere, but the addition of popcorn and soda makes it more attractive.
The ever-increasing cost of movie admission at first-run theatres has also built up demand for lower-cost alternatives, Jones said. "We've uncovered a niche in this market," he said. "There's a need for entertainment value. There are a lot of movies out there that people can't afford to go to. ... We're an alternative."
While its screens are filled with big-budget summer movies right now, Kolkmeyer said he expects the fall to bring a new type of film to the Nova: those less-mainstream features that National Amusements passes over. (See River Cities' Reader, Issue 325, May 30-June 5, 2001.) Because so many movies never even make it to the Quad Cities, Kolkmeyer said, Nova 6 will have a fair number of first-run shows in the fall.
Less than 20 days passed between when Nova signed its lease and opened its doors. "We did two months of work in two weeks," Kolkmeyer said. Some things couldn't be done with such a compressed time schedule; cup-holders should be arriving in the next few weeks, he said.
The second-run Super Saver cinema closed in January. National Amusements said the theatre did not perform well, and it decided not to renew its lease.
That decision created an opportunity for Nova. Empty movie theatres, with their sloped floors, are ill-suited to virtually any other use, so Nova got a good rate on its lease. "We had a very aggressive landlord," Jones said.
Kolkmeyer noted that 180 movie theatres have closed in the past year. "We could do hundreds of these," he said.