What does a Theater Manager do?

Sheri Cyprus

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.

Theater managers set ticket prices.
Theater managers set ticket prices.

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.

A movie theater's equipment, including its screen and projectors, are overseen by a theater's manager.
A movie theater's equipment, including its screen and projectors, are overseen by a theater's manager.

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.

A manager of a small theater may even pitch in and serve at the snack bar.
A manager of a small theater may even pitch in and serve at the snack bar.

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.

Theater managers need to bring in paying customers.
Theater managers need to bring in paying customers.
Live theater managers may make sure the venue is set before opening night.
Live theater managers may make sure the venue is set before opening night.
With smaller theaters, managers will have more hands-on duties.
With smaller theaters, managers will have more hands-on duties.

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Discussion Comments

scifreak

@pinkandred- Actually, when the U.S. experiences a recession, people go to the movies more. I remember reading that on the internet. They traced it back to the beginning of films and found that people go to the movies to forget about their troubles. What money they do have they spend on the small indulgence of the theatre.

I agree about the movies that don't do well. Movies that have a low viewer rate have got to be difficult. It would be hard to show you made a profit when you have to show flop movies. I would not want to be a manager that has to show unpopular movies.

pinkandred

I would not want to be in theatre management during economic recessions. I think it would also be hard when a bunch of flop movies come out.

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