A theater manager's overall responsibility is to run a theater so that it brings in a profit. Theater managers hire and manage employees, engage in marketing efforts to promote shows, organize show times, order concession foods, oversee the budget and basically make sure everything is running smoothly. A movie theater manager may have a degree in business, while managers of live performance theaters may have a fine arts degree. The smaller the theater, the more hands-on duties theater managers are likely to do daily. In larger theaters, managers may have an assistant who works on the front line instead.
For example, in a large multi-screen movie theater, the manager may hire a high school student to train as an assistant manager. This employee usually works with other employees as ticket takers or concession stand staff, but leads the others. The students often start by working evenings and weekends. The pay is usually around minimum wage, but some movie theaters offer help with college tuition as well as free movies. In small movie theaters, the theater manager may have a limited number of employees so he or she may have to do hands-on tasks such as serving popcorn and soda to customers.
In large movie theaters, the theater manager may spend most of his or her work day in an office completing tasks such as record keeping, creating marketing materials and ordering snack foods for the concession. Theater managers must also communicate with film distributors. Film distributors may demand up to 90 percent of box office sales to show a movie, so part of a theater manager's job is to try to negotiate a lower rate to increase profit for the theater. Movie theater managers have ticket sales goals as well, so they need to choose films that local audiences want to see in order to sell enough tickets.
Live performance theater managers also have to ensure an adequate number of ticket sales by choosing plays that interest locals. They make sure that stage sets get built and costumes are finished on time for dress rehearsals. Ensuring that laws for safety standards are met is a constant concern in theater manager jobs and theater managers must also hire and oversee security personnel. A manager in a live theater is often responsible for accounting and payroll for the cast and crew as well as keeping track of their attendance. A theater manager also has the responsibility of making sure the theater is properly closed after each performance.