“We’re a movie theater. The studios expect us to show movies during our normal operating hours,” Dieffenbach said. “We can’t break a contract with the studios and take off something they’d normally play.”
The cinema is legally bound to show a certain number of movies each week, and during peak hours — Friday or Saturday night, for example — those movies take precedence. But other times, Dieffenbach is free to show something else.
“Let’s face it, there are times when the quality of movies is not that great,” he commented. And those times are ideal for the “alternative content” he’s envisioned.
In addition to showing episodes of “The Walking Dead” — which the theater doesn’t charge for — Dieffenbach plans to host some live entertainment the week that local schools take off for spring break. When the NCAA’s Final Four championship games start next month, he’s planning to throw them up on the big screen, and is considering showing NFL games come fall.
Few area theaters show anything other than movies produced by the big-name studios. One Lafayette theater has been showing regular satellite broadcasts of opera performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. That theater also put the Academy Awards broadcast on one of its screens two years ago, and has since shown the broadcast every year.
Last year’s turnout of 58 to watch the Oscars at Lafayette Eastside 9 theater impressed managers there.
“We weren’t really expecting that much so we were very surprised when we got our ticket totals,” shift manager Jenna Cox said. The cinema had added a few touches — a live broadcast with the local radio station, red carpet from the theater entrance to the auditorium, door prizes, even photos snapped by theater staff — to try to set it apart from an Oscars night at home.