Looking for the box office gold

An insatiable love of movies drove Genoa resident Sibyl Titus to take the helm of Ironwood Cinemas in Minden.

"I've spent millions of dollars so I can go to the movies for free," Titus joked while at the theater on Monday.

Titus has actually owned and leased the Ironwood building for five years, but recently decided to purchase the business.

"I wanted to be more involved," she said.

The Ironwood theater was built in 1998. Titus credits the theater's success to its hometown atmosphere.

"People don't realize how much work goes on behind the scenes," she said. "Just to get a movie in here is a real task."

General Manager Lori Pulver explained how theaters use a "middle man" to negotiate with studios.

"We have to pick and choose the movies," she said.

She said studios attach time conditions to each movie, mandating a movie be shown for a specified number of weeks.

"We had to guarantee 12 weeks for a Star Wars movie," she said. "That's a long time for an 8-screen theater."

Pulver said the time contracts prevent early premieres of new movies because old movies can't be replaced until the contracts are fulfilled.

"People will ask why we don't have a certain movie yet, and a lot of times it's because we have to meet these obligations," she said. "Sometimes, when a film has bombed across the country, the studio will let us drop it early."

Pulver said movie selections also depend on genre. She said children's movies draw the biggest crowds, while horror movies draw the smallest.

"Some movies just don't do well here," she said.

She said Ironwood's theaters, along with most studios, still use 35mm film.

"We are going to digital in the future," she said.

Pulver pointed to Ironwood's most recent upgrades, including an LED reader board on the front of the building that advertises show times, and a new computer system for the ticket booth and concession counter that accepts credit cards.

Titus said the economic recession has slowed business, but not as much as other industries.

"A lot of people are still going out," she said. "I would like input from the public. I want to know what movies people are interested in."

Titus thanked her dedicated staff, which includes more than 20 part-time employees and full-time assistant managers.

"I could never run this place without them," she said.

She also thanked her business partner, John Colistra of Silicon Valley, Calif.

Ironwood Cinemas is located at 1760 Highway 395. The theater is offering gift cards and holiday specials, as well as accommodations for special groups.

For more information, call 782-3444. For the 24-hour movie hotline, call 782-7469.


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