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Small theater business stands out among the mega screen businesses

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The Penn Theatre is a small business. It looms large in the quaint downtown district of Plymouth. But is still a small business that competes with the larger multi-screen, 3D mega theaters that dot the suburbs around this western suburb of Detroit.

From what I’ve seen, it can hold its own in the battle for theater-goers disposable income. In fact, I bet it does real well when attracting customers to its likeable 1940’s architectural structure and cozy interior. It is “old-time” movie theater at its finest.

My wife and I usually got to the larger movie houses but we wanted to give the Penn a try during the run of the popular movie “Gravity.” Ticket prices were $3.00 and the line was long to get in when the box office opened 30 minutes before show time. We found some seats near the back because the front and middle had filled up quickly. The seats were comfortable and included cup holders. The sightlines were good, too.

I bought a large popcorn, two small soft drinks, and a box of Sno-Caps. The total came to $9.00. If I would have made the same purchase from our “regular” theater the total for food would have been around $18.00. In fact, the tickets at our regular theater would have cost $21.00. So the Penn “experience” was $15.00 compared to the mega-theater “experience” of $39.50.

I will go back again next weekend to see “Last Vegas” and still not spend as much as one night at the bigger theater. That’s two dates for the price of one. Nice job, Penn.

The one suggestion I would make – and it may not even be necessary – is to reach out to the 21-35 age range. These are people who have a lot of disposable income and who may have never set foot in an old theater like the Penn. Most of the people we saw at “Gravity” were in the 40-70 age range; people who grew up with these quaint entertainment venues.

One more thing I liked was the absence of a gluttony of on-screen advertising and movie previews. I was almost expecting a Looney Tunes cartoon!

For a look back on the history of the Penn Theatre as well as show times and other good info, visit www.penntheatre.com. In this case, smaller was better.

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