Nick Campo says changes in the movie industry, have been “pretty spectacular” since he opened Marco Movies 20 years ago.
We asked Nick to look back and look ahead at the Marco Movies and movies in general as he celebrates this anniversary, starting this evening.
“The difference in picture and sound quality is night-and-day, so much better. About six years ago, experts figured out how to get the warmth of film into the digital format. That changed everything.
“Before digital, film would run through 20 different reels and rollers. The projector would clank away and the film would bounce on the screen. The least speck of dirt would cause a scratch and a green line down the picture.
“We’d have to pay a lot of money for a new print. Now, whether it’s the first use or the 1,000th, the picture on screen looks exactly the same. It is bright, rock solid, a warm picture every time. And no bouncing.”
Nick virtually pioneered the concept of first-run movie theaters in which meals were served.
At first, most movie studios hated the idea of conflating food and drink with films.
“They wrote into the contract, no real food served inside the theaters. They said it would detract from the film. Then Paramount gave us ‘The Flintstones,’ our first first-run movie here. It was a huge success and that convinced distributors to give us first-run films.”
Soon, other distributors starting paying attention to the Marco “experiment.” Some decided the dinner-and-a-movie at the movies would work elsewhere. Nick says several hundred cinemas use the format now.
How have movie theaters survived competition from DVD, DirecTV, Internet downloads, etc?
“They once said VCRs would kill movie theaters. Wrong.
“Going to the movies may be your cheapest night out, a break from reality. You can walk out enlightened, entertained, saddened, whatever is in the film. The secret to survival is to keep making quality movies.”
Nick expects some changes in the next 20 years, such as the video delivery systems, but it’s hard to imagine a change as drastic as the move from film to digital.
Nick’s big bet on continued success is, the food and beverage component.
“In a small theater there’s no way to cover the cost with normal theater snacks. But the food service keeps us going. Our menus have grown and improved so much over the years and we always give a quality product.
“We use great, fresh ingredients, we don’t skimp and we offer a good price. Right now we’re tasting some salmon dishes and other fish and salads. We don’t want the menu to get too big; but we don’t want to take off items people enjoy. We get lots of flack if we do that.”
Nick praises his staff, including the kitchen and the chef.
“They are consistently good at what they do. My goal is to keep the experience unique and satisfying.”
We asked Nick, “Any mistakes along the way you’d like to share?”
“Remember the movie ‘Hangover?’ I never thought it would do well here, in this demographic. I figured it would be way over the top.
“But It was huge, even among our more ‘mature’ audiences.”
“One more thing, Nick,” we asked. “Twenty years ago, did you have expectations that have turned out differently now?”
“I would have envisioned myself with a full head of hair.”
A charity close to home: ‘For the family’
If you’re looking for a way to help people and would prefer to keep your giving close to home, here’s a new, closeup way to give a local family a huge holiday boost.
It’s “For The Family,” an all expense getaway to Disney World for a deserving family here, created and sponsored by the people at the Law Offices of William G. Morris.
It’s Bill’s way of celebrating the firm’s 30th anniversary on Marco Island.
“We’re creating a tradition of giving a lift to a family every year at this time,” Bill says. “We invite the community to join us as we answer the question, ‘What can I do?’ ”
To nominate a needy family, call Bill at 239-642-6020 or visit the website: www.wgmorrislaw.com. Or visit his law office at 247 N. Collier Blvd Suite 202. Deadline: Dec. 22.
Chris Curle and Don Farmer have been writing for the Marco Eagle and other area newspapers for more than 30 years. They have a combined total of 99 years experience in major news media in the U.S. and abroad, including ABC News, NBC News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and magazines. Their novel, “Deadly News,” is set partly in