Rutgers Cinema opens on Feb. 8, seeks student input
The Rutgers Cinema will open its doors in February to students eager to enjoy its convenient on-campus location.
But the theater’s owner Larry Haber said students should be most excited about how the theater is specially geared toward catering the needs of University students.
“We want to give students a unique experience because we want them to view themselves as stakeholders,” he said. “You guys pay tuition. Eventually you’re going to be alumni. This is your place. This is your theater. No other theater in the area can say this is a Rutgers theater.”
Rutgers Cinema is officially scheduled to open Feb. 8, Haber said. The theater will show newly released movies that Friday.
But from Tuesday, Feb. 5 to Thursday, Feb. 7, the theater will host free evening shows for students along with free popcorn and soda.
Rutgers Cinema houses three auditoriums — two with 84 seats and one with 155 seats, Haber said. He said screenings would most likely be held at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and midnight.
The theater will open at noon on weekends, he said.
The auditoriums will double as classrooms during the weekdays as well, Haber said. Mondays through Thursdays, classes will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Patrons will be able to purchase tickets in advance from the cinema’s website, said Sean Crean, vice president of operations at the Rutgers Cinema. A Rutgers Cinema application compatible for iPhones and Androids will connect directly to the cinema’s website.
“You’ll be able to bring your phone after purchasing a ticket, have it scanned, and go see a movie,” he said.
The website will also serve as a way to receive student feedback so the theater can experiment with new ideas, Haber said.
“We don’t want to bring our preconceived notions to Rutgers Cinema. We want the students to dictate what we do and what we show, and we need input,” he said. “What we want to do is get into everyone’s mind here and see what’s the most fun for you.”
After receiving feedback from a survey conducted by the University, Haber said he would experiment with hosting midnight shows every night of the week and screening free cartoons on Saturday mornings.
Haber said the survey indicated that students do not enjoy 3-D movies. The theater will not host 3-D screenings unless there is a change in student opinion.
Students, alumni, faculty and administration will receive discounts at Rutgers Cinema. Haber said concession stand prices would run significantly lower than concessions from competing theaters.
“To give you an example, we haven’t set prices in concrete yet, but I think this is where we’re going,” he said. “AMC for an adult ticket is $11.50, Regal’s $11.00. We’re going to have student tickets for $8.50.”
Haber said the cinema charges less per person because they want to profit from the volume of customers.
He said he began working with Rutgers Cinema three years ago when University officials visited the Garden Theater in Princeton, which Haber also owns.
As the cinema’s owner, Haber said his main goals are to please the student body, make money and have fun.
“We’re here to service the customer,” he said. “Our main customer is the Rutgers student. We have to give the best experience to the students that we can because we want them to come. If we can make [students] happy and profit and have fun — wow, what a wonderful thing.”
Haber said he plans to host many events at Rutgers Cinema. Some possible events include a Valentine’s night and a formal Oscars party.
“We’re going to have film festivals,” he said. “We’re going to be hosting special events during the year. This is a fully digital stadium seating so we can get DVDs. For a special club or special event, we’ll play their DVD. When we play a DVD, we won’t charge.”
Haber said he expects the theater to yield great profits for the University.
“I think we can give the University a good business return on their investment,” he said. “The dollar amounts — I don’t know yet. I think the University … can expect five, six, seven or eight percent return in a year on what they put in.”
Anthony Rojas, a student manager for Rutgers Cinema, said he was very excited when he learned that the University planned to build a movie theater on campus.
“Many of us, from my hall, we thought it was just a rumor,” said Rojas, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “Once I found out there was actually a movie theater, we were all very excited. They kept asking and asking when’s it going to open. And now it’s finally here.”
Crean said he hired Rojas mainly because he is a Residence Hall Association president for the Livingston Apartments.
“I think there are many things Anthony can contribute,” he said. “He can strengthen our connection with the students and his connection will keep the theater as a student theater.”
Qdoba Mexican Grill opened up next to the cinema yesterday and remains the only operating vendor in the Livingston Plaza.
Tiffany Thrasher, Qdoba’s regional marketing specialist, said the restaurant offers many discounts for their grand opening, including free entrees to the first 25 customers every day until Friday.
Qdoba heavily promotes their new location via social media as well, Thrasher said. For example, those who become a fan of Qdoba on Facebook are rewarded with free chips and queso. Patrons using Foursquare who check in to the Piscataway location can earn a free entree.
Thrasher said she believes Qdoba will make a great contribution to the atmosphere at the Livingston Plaza.
“We think it will help with our business once the other [vendors] open up, especially the movie theater, you know, to grab people and get them to come get dinner before a movie,” she said. “It just gives the students something different.”