How to Start a Small Movie Theatre

cinema seats 2 image by Mikhail Malyshev from

Starting a small movie theater can be a very rewarding experience. Movie theaters are normally social hang-outs for teenagers and middle-aged people. The look and feel of a movie theater can determine the type of customers that you’ll have, as well as the amount of income you accumulate. Making sure the groundwork is complete before starting a small movie theater is crucial. Ensure that all paperwork is completed and that the space is properly zoned for a movie theater.

Things You'll Need

  • License
  • Floor Plan
  • Advertisements
  • Funding
  • Business Plan

Research and plan your business. Develop an extensive business plan complete with start-up summary, marketing strategies and financial plans. The Small Business Association (SBA) can further assist in helping with resources for starting a business.

Select a name and location for your theater and register it with your state’s Department of Revenue. Your business name should be something memorable and catchy. Your business should also have a location that can be easily seen by prospective customers.

Apply for a business license. Business licenses can be obtained from your local city hall. There may be a small fee of $30 to $40, depending on the location.

Call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 800-829-4933, and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS will ask for specific business and personal information; have all relevant information handy.

Find start-up funding. Funding is available in a few types including loans, grants, and through community programs. Debt financing, equity financing and local revolving loan funds from the Alaska ARDOR and the Small Business Association (SBA) are additional resources for funding.

Create an overall theme for your movie theater. Your theater should have something that sets it apart from other theaters. For instance, try a new feature that no other theater has, such as reclining seats, or something unique that may capture the attention of customers.

Come up with a floor plan. Make sure that you know exactly what every inch of space will be used for. Use your space in the interest of the customers. For instance, have a snack bar positioned right where customers can see it before entering the theater. Also, promoting new movies that may be released soon is another way of getting customers to come back.

Advertise your business everywhere, including newspapers, magazines and local radio stations using fliers, business cards and banners. Advertising is another key factor in the success of your business; so making sure the right people see your advertisements is crucial.