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Sat, Aug. 24

Talk of the Town

As the operator of the Frontier Village Cinema 10 and as the partial subject of the story which ran on Sunday, July 2, in the Business section with the headline "Movie Wars," I must further comment on some of the items, particularly certain statements by Dan Harkins, owner of the Harkins Theatre in Prescott Valley.

My wife Judy and I love movies and enjoy presenting both mainstream and independent film fare to the movie-loving people of Prescott and the surrounding communities.

For 30 years I have owned and operated movie theatres in many communities of Southern California but have divested myself of all of those California venues except one.

For the past two years, I have enthusiastically put my energy into the Frontier Village Cinema. Although Judy and I do not (at this time) live in Prescott, we love our time spent here. We have made many friends and business contacts.

Moviegoing is an important entertainment in Prescott among the young people, families, children, business owners, professional people and considerable senior/retired population. Dan Harkins' contention that our playing the same movies would cut down people's choices is not true.

It is preposterous to think that 24 screens is not enough for the Prescott/Prescott Valley area to offer virtually all mainstream and independent films as they become available. Some limited-appeal films do not warrant playing in both theaters, but our controversy really is about the wide-appeal films that can easily play both venues and still attract audiences.

And even those films do not run for the same amount of time in both towns.

When Harkins challenges "anyone to find any aspect of the Frontier Village Theater that is superior to the Harkins Theatre," he misses the most obvious one: location. On our surveys, 72 percent of the respondents cited "convenience and location" as a preference for the Frontier. Scores of folks have told us that they prefer not to drive the accident-prone Highway 69 stretch between the two towns at night.

We believe the area can support two runs of major motion pictures. Harkins left out a pertinent fact when he said that the studios decide how to distribute the films.

Disney studio executives came last month and visited both theaters and the region and wanted to place "Cars" in both theaters, but Harkins turned them down because they were offering it also to Frontier. In the case of "Superman Returns," Warner Bros. studio people (who also came and visited the area) wanted to show the movie in both venues, but Harkins also rejected them because they were including us.

Anyone can check the Harkins Theatres Web site and see that "Cars" and "Superman" are playing at virtually all Harkins mainstream theaters except Prescott Valley.

This week, another major Disney film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," opened nationally. Harkins again refused a simultaneous run with us. Since their picture "Cars" is playing only at Frontier (because Harkins refused to play it with us), the Disney people decided to give "Pirates" to Harkins, which excluded Frontier.

We welcome playing films simultaneously with Prescott Valley. We believe in the valuable practice of "enhancing consumer choice" when letting people decide where to see a given movie. The 10-screen Frontier theater was built in 1995, and then a few years later Harkins built in Prescott Valley.

We at the Frontier Village Cinema appreciate the support we have received from the local moviegoers. We hope to have their support on this issue of having major movies play in both Prescott and Prescott Valley. I would welcome reader responses to my comments at, P.O. Box 3885, San Dimas, CA 91773, or 909 599-4119.

(Gene Harvey has been the owner and operator of the Frontier Village Cinema 10 for the past two years.)

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