Garner movie theater dumps $2 strategy

Staff writerNovember 25, 2009 

About three months after a Garner movie theater switched to showing second-run films for $2, it has changed back.

The new owner of the 10-screen Garner Towne Square decided in August to try reduced prices to draw more customers. Business has suffered during the recession and as more moviegoers choose the newer White Oak 14 theater about five miles away.

The strategy didn't pay off and the theater shifted back "to stay in business," said Garner Towne general manager Robert Hughes.

Owner Carolina Cinemas converted back to first-run films on Friday. The theater will still be a bit cheaper than its rivals. Garner Towne now is charging $7 for adults, $5 for matinees and $4 for children. Adult tickets at White Oak are $9.50 and prices will probably rise in 2010, Hughes said.

"The community appreciated what we were trying to do, but people want to see movies as soon as they come out," said Hope Branch, director of operations for Carolina Cinemas, a Texas company with a regional office in Charlotte.

The Garner theater did brisk business last weekend with big movies such as "New Moon," proving that the switch won't turn off customers, Branch said.

The chain, which also owns the Raleigh Grande 16, plans new advertising to alert people to the change in Garner. That will include radio spots and a billboard on U.S. 70 in Garner, Branch said.

There are only a handful of second-run movie theaters in this region, including Carmike Cinemas Blue Ridge 14 in Raleigh and the Howell Theater in Smithfield.

Movie studios are speeding up how quickly they release movies on DVD to boost that source of revenue, but the trend can hurt demand at second-run theaters.

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