The Pix Theater in Albany faces some unique challenges as an independent theater that doesn’t necessarily always cater to an indie audience. Although they do occasionally host older cult classics and live television special events, unlike many other independent theaters, they tend to mainly show first-run titles.
Rod and Denise Bigner have been the proud owners for two years now, and although it’s been a learning curve for them, they’re living their dream. Rod was a film major in college, and neither he or Denise had managed a theater before.
In their own words, they show “anything that they can get behind,” that is inclusive to a larger audience. This has provided its own set of challenges. Their competition tends to be the larger chain theaters and studio policy doesn’t allow theaters within a certain distance of each other to show the same movies during the same week. Being the smaller theater, they have to be prepared not to get their first or even second choice.
The philosophy behind their movie selection has a lot to do with their personal likes and dislikes according to Rod (locally known as The Movie Geek). They choose movies based on their own tastes, and their hope for the future is that people will start to trust their movie selections enough to go see a movie that they may not have otherwise given a chance.
Ultimately, the studio that made the movie decides whether or not the movie gets to be played in a specific theater, and will almost always choose the higher grossing theater, for obvious reasons. There are other regulations that they must abide by, too.
When a studio decides to let them show a movie they can classify it as “stackable,” which means that it can share a screen with another movie during the timeframe, or they can require that they give it a “clean” run for a set amount of weeks, which means that they must dedicate one screen to only showing that movie for a certain amount of times per day, for a certain amount of weeks. Because they only have one screen at their theater, it means turning down any other opportunities that come up during a “clean” movie’s timeframe.
Their highest grossing movie to date has been Wild, which required them to give it a clean run for three weeks during the Christmas season last year.
Some might think that so many regulations that tend to favor larger theaters would make it impossible for a small independent theater like The Pix to compete, but they’ve found their way and have overcome these setbacks by offering an experience that can’t be found anywhere else in their area. The lobby has comfortable and stylish sitting areas, and they welcome people to come in even when they aren’t seeing a movie to enjoy their free WiFi and wide variety of food and drink items. Their menu has much more to offer than a typical theater, the quality is higher, and you won’t be paying the typical highway robbery theater prices for it. You can still get candy, popcorn, and soda, but you can also get items like a burger, a hummus plate, or even a piece of pie and ice cream. They also serve beer and wine, which sets them apart from a lot of theaters.
This theater is unique in another aspect, it brings moviegoers into the screening decision process, frequently polling customers on Facebook. They also work with CrowdedTheater.com, so customers can suggest titles they want to see and vote on movies being considered.
Located in downtown Albany their historic building dates back to 1892, and they make an effort to work with other local downtown businesses as much as possible. They’ve joined up with Sybaris for several events, and have a running date night offer with them: a dinner delivered to tables in the back of the theater, so you get a gourmet dinner and a movie all at the same time.
The Martian will be showing
Nov. 25 to Dec. 3. You can find more information and future showtimes on their website http://www.albanypix.com and on their Facebook page under The Albany Pix Theater. They are located at 321 SW 2nd Avenue in Albany.
By Hannah Darling