Dipson Theatres plans to begin showing second-run movies at its McKinley Mall 6, a changeover that takes effect one week from today.
The move lowers the cost of seeing a show at the six-screen Hamburg theater from a peak price of $9, for a new release, to $1.75, and makes the McKinley Mall 6 one of just two second-run movie theaters in the area.
Dipson officials said the move is partly a response to competition from the nearby, first-run Quaker Crossing cinema, operated by Regal Entertainment Group, but primarily an attempt to reach what they believe is an under-served part of the local movie market.
"I believe there is more of a demand" for second-run showings, Bryan Spokane, a Dipson vice president, said Thursday.
Dipson, which operates eight theaters in Western New York, has owned the McKinley Mall Cinemas for nine years. The theater previously was owned by General Cinema.
But Dipson faces intense competition from Regal's Quaker Crossing, located less than 2 miles away, in bringing in the most popular first-run movies, Spokane said, and this was a factor in the chain's decision to change the format for the McKinley Mall Cinemas.
Now, he said, "We can play whatever we want to play there."
Second-run theaters get their movies once the pictures have finished their booking at the first-run theaters, usually within two or three months, Spokane said.
Dipson now charges $9 for an evening adult ticket and adds a $2.50 surcharge for 3-D movies, which can be shown on two of the six screens at the McKinley Mall theater. The theater offers various discounts for matinee showings, students, seniors and others.
The price will stay at $1.75 for all showings, Spokane said, though Dipson will continue its promotion of half-price popcorn and pop every Tuesday.
Spokane said the change, which goes into effect next Friday, won't lead to any layoffs at the theater and could prompt Dipson to hire additional workers if, as the chain expects, the lower ticket prices lead to a boost in business.
Currently the only second-run theater in Erie County is Cheektowaga's MovieLand 8, where shows are $4 normally but $2 on Wednesdays and Fridays.
"We hope more people will go through the doors, so we'll need to hire more," Spokane said.
The growing availability of movies on demand, streamed over the Internet or downloaded to mobile devices, is putting severe pressure on movie theaters.
But Spokane said Dipson remains optimistic about its future and he pointed to the chain's ongoing conversion from film reels to digital projectors.
Four of the six screens at the McKinley Mall theater are digital, and the other two will be converted by the first quarter of next year.
"It was a huge investment on our part," Spokane said. "We are extremely confident moving forward."