Movie Nights – hints and tips for success

Movie Nights make a great community event and they can also make you a really great profit. But when it comes to what works and what doesn’t work, well that can often vary from group to group.

Here are some hints and tips that will help you in planning a successful outdoor movie night.

  • Councils often have grants available to support community events, so be sure to check with your local council to see what’s available.
  • If council grants are not available in your area, speak to local businesses about sponsoring your event. A range of mutually beneficial packages can be tailored to suit different levels of sponsorship.
  • Sell pre-movie advertising spots to local businesses to be shown on the big screen prior to screening the movie.
  • Public performance licensing will be required – check out our suppliers that can help you arrange this. Fines of up to $250,000 can apply if you are caught screening without a license.
  • Promoting your event beyond your immediate community will increase numbers and profits. Use social media, local newspapers, community noticeboards or local radio.
  • Pre-sell tickets to your event to lock numbers in. You could offer an ‘early bird’ rate to increase sales.
  • Organise a raffle and sell tickets at your entry point as well as in the lead up to your event.
  • Offer a VIP or ‘Gold Class’ section with limited seating – bean bags, cushions, rugs or even a couch or two if you can. This can also be used as an incentive to encourage pre-sales of tickets. All pre-sold tickets go into the draw to be upgraded to VIP section.

Food and drinks are like to be your big money makers. If you have a good volunteer base you can cater this yourselves – sausage sizzle, hot dogs, nachos, burgers, pasta, pizza, popcorn, sno cones, fairy floss, hot and cold drinks and a bar. Popcorn, sno cone, and fairy floss machines can be hired and typically have a good return.

However, if the idea of DIY’ing the food is a bridge too far, you can always bring in food trucks. There is a great variety of food and drink options available with now and you can negotiate with these vendors in regards to an upfront site fee or donation of a percentage of their sales for the night. You can have as many or as few options as you like.

Now, if you want to REALLY takes things to the next level (and you’ve got plenty of space), how about getting some rides in. I’m not going to use the ‘F’ word (that’s Fete just in case you weren’t sure 😉 ), but throw in some market stalls as well and let’s call it a mini carnival culminating in an outdoor movie.

Some ride operators work on a commission basis where no money is required up front (bonus!) and they will give you a negotiated percentage of their profits. Pre-sell unlimited ride bands for $20 and on the day you can charge $30 with individual rides at $5 each. Start your event a couple of hours before nightfall to get the best results as you probably won’t want the rides running while the movie is on as it’ll be too noisy.

That’s all well and good if you’ve got the room and the resources I hear some of you say. Just because you don’t have the room doesn’t mean you can’t have a movie night. Now, I’d probably steer clear of having an indoor movie night (like in your school hall) as it can tend to get a bit noisy and people could get frustrated. You know how it goes …

Having said that though, there are a number of cinema chains that offer movie fundraisers. This usually involves selling tickets at a reduced cost to you. You then add your profit margin on and you’ve got your sales price. Food and drink deals can often be included and you can still have a raffle or two to increase profits.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you are working with a limited number of tickets available BUT, if you can book an exclusive preview of an upcoming movie this can increase demand (and ticket prices!).

There is a lot less work involved in booking a private movie fundraiser but keep in mind that you’ll have a much smaller audience. When it comes to sales, there are lots of options when for online ticketing providers for your event and a major advantage of this is that you get your money upfront.

Either way, you’re bound to have a fun-filled event and raise funds at the same time.


Originally published 18 October, 2018

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