Tropic Cinema Gets
Good Report Card
At Annual Meeting
By Shirrel Rhoades
Last week the Tropic Cinema’s board of directors, members, and a few stray moviegoers attended an annual meeting to learn how the indie movie house is faring. The report card was good.
Thanks to added revenue from popcorn sales and the wine and beer license, the non-profit cinema is breaking even, with a small surplus going toward capital improvements such air conditioning and expanded DCI projection.
Executive director Matthew Helmerich welcomed the audience and stated that the mission of Tropic Cinema is to “bring the world’s best film to the Florida Keys and to promote the cultural, artistic and economic well-being of Key West and the Keys.”
After acknowledging the “nearly 200” volunteers who keep the Tropic running, and listing the board of directors, Helmerich then introduced treasurer George Cooper and new chairman Jon Allen.
Cooper reported gross revenues of $977,273, up 4% over the previous year. However, expenses were up 5%, producing a loss of $211,567 before membership revenues and contributions from private foundations and individuals.
Staffing cost accounted for the biggest increase in expenses, a 12% jump. It was pointed out that staff now receives health benefits, a milestone in the organization’s employee benefits.
An analysis of 2012 showed that Tropic attendees bought 83,514 tickets for 5,714 performances of 252 different films and events.
The Tropic’s top ten grossing films contributed 38% of the cinema’s film revenues. The top twenty box office films accounted for 54% of box office grosses.
The number one grossing film last year was “The Descendants” with George Clooney.
Community activities were highlighted, noting that the Tropic (along with the San Carlos) participated in the first annual Key West Film Festival. The festival screened nearly 40 films, selling 1,133 tickets.
And for the second year, the Tropic’s Student Leader Program encouraged high school students to produce trailers shown before each DCI-projection movie.
The annual opinion poll yielded no surprises. 91.3% of top two level respondents indicated satisfaction with the “Tropic Experience.” Biggest complaint was that the Tropic had stopped serving coffee (note: it has been restored).
The most pressing question from attendees at the annual meeting had to do with flickering neon over the theaters’ entrances. “The nature of neons,” shrugged Matthew Helmerich, whose family foundation helped fund the Peggy Dow Theater (named after his actress-mother).
Named “Best Cinema in Florida” for several years in a row, George Cooper claimed the title for perpetuity, considering the polling magazine has gone out of business.
Everyone seemed to agree with that designation.