Help my wife do something cool for some cool kids.
December 17, 2006 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me get thirty inner-city kids into a movie for free.

My teacher wife and I have been taking her 5th graders to see movies a couple of times a year for the past couple of years, but a large number of them can't afford to go, which really sucks.

Does anyone have any experience or ideas about how to get a grant or sponsorship for something like this?

If taking kids to the movies seems kind of frivolous, there's nothing like seeing the look on a kid's face who's never been to a theater before and has his first milk-dud!

My wife's wish is for all of her students to have the experience of seeing a movie with their friends.
posted by snsranch to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried just calling theaters? My sister got me a ton of free beer from McSorley's for my senior show just by calling and asking them if they'd like to donate it.

Couch it in community terms, and it seems to help.
posted by interrobang at 3:39 PM on December 17, 2006

Write a letter to the manager of every movie theater in your city and explain what you want to do. I bet at least one of them will set you up.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:39 PM on December 17, 2006

posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:39 PM on December 17, 2006

When you say a large number of them can't afford to go, how many is large? How much money are you talking about?
posted by clarkstonian at 3:44 PM on December 17, 2006

I'll triple-jinx that.

I have gotten a ton of free stuff for children just by talking to store managers. At one store, the manager let me load up 4 shopping carts of anything in their clearance toy aisles. And this was not even for necesarily "needy" kids, just kids who attended my church.

If I needed to approach the theater angle, I would go to the theater at a SLOW time and ask to see the manager. Sit down and tell him/her what you do in the community and confidently ask.

For extra points, I would:
-Bring photos of past group events.
-Write the request on your official letterhead.
-Tell the manager you will write a letter to the editor of your local paper, thanking the theater by name for their generosity. It may even lead to good publicity for your group and the theater as well.

Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!
posted by The Deej at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: About 1/3 can't go. I've talked with managers before, in person, even, and didn't get anywhere. I think we need to go corporate but I don't really know where to begin with that.
posted by snsranch at 3:53 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: Oops, 1/3 meaning, 10 of 30 can't go, to be precise in the numbers.
posted by snsranch at 3:56 PM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: you can get a bulk rate from the theatre, which may lower the price to the realm of affordability.
posted by dobbs at 3:58 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: Right on, The Deej, we have some incredible photos. Haven't thought of that angle.
posted by snsranch at 4:00 PM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: snsranch writes "Oops, 1/3 meaning, 10 of 30 can't go, to be precise in the numbers."

"Mr. Multiplex Manager, I can give you 20 * Cost Of Matinee Ticket; on your books that'll show up as X dollars of profit you wouldn't otherwise have made. But I need you to comp me ten tickets. Without the comp, I'll have to go to your competitor and let him book the profit. Those ten seats are going to be empty anyway, so comping won't cost you a buck. Help me help you, can we call it a group rate?"
posted by orthogonality at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2006

It wouldn't bother me. But some parents might not be happy with subsidising the poorer kids (if they found out about the 20 for 30 deal)
posted by selton at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: ortho, wow, another great angle. Reminds me of trying to get on band's guest lists.
posted by snsranch at 4:13 PM on December 17, 2006

Independent theatre chain may be more open to the idea. Also, can your wife do an rewards point plea to other teachers or family and friends? (ones that can be turned into movie passes of course.) I have done this in the past with non-profits, and it seems to work well, yielding decent results. Especially because it seems to be easier to get people to donate point than cold-hard cash.
posted by typewriter at 4:26 PM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: Do you have a paypal account? If so, post it and let Mefi do something nice.
posted by spork at 4:27 PM on December 17, 2006

The local paper idea is a very good one. You can bet your bottom dollar that the cinema (sorry, 'movie theatre'... sorry, 'movie theater') will be up for that -- and that the paper will print it too, as long as you get a decent picture (hell, they'd probably send a photographer if you asked). It's exactly the kind of thing the local press love.

Definitely ask around, and come at it from this kind of "lovely for the kids, and good publicity for you, cinema manager man" angle.
posted by reklaw at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: I've got an extra $6 bucks in my paypal account, I'll sponsor a kid. Email me or something.

(Oh, will $6 cover it where you are? Let me know.)
posted by claytonius maximus at 4:36 PM on December 17, 2006

Theaters, these days, don't make a profit on the film itself. It's the snacks and drinks that bring them real income.

Can your school or the kids themselves hold some sort of fundraiser?

While I am totally against having kids schlep around the neighborhood selling candy and wrapping paper "for the school" I think a letter home to all parents explaining that "every year Mrs so and so takes her class to a movie. This year she has been unable to get the school to fund the trip, would parents be willing to donate X dollars for the trip this year and to perhaps make a cushion for next year as well?"

So then what you do is you figure out, what is a kid's ticket, add in the cost of a small soda and the most expensive candy. Estimate that's what it will cost for every child. If some parents want to donate more, encourage it. If you can get a percentage off from the theater, include that in the letter to the parents. But keep them in the loop.

I was one of 20 who went to Russia and Ukraine when I was in 8th grade because I showed the information to my grandmother and she thought it important enough that she was willing to chaperone the trip as well as pay my ticket. Had I left it up to my broke ass drunk dad, I'd have stayed home.

If the letter home goes to all the families and a relative of a poorer kid agrees to help out with their trip to the movies, that would be awesome too.

Also, get the word out to any small shops in the neighborhood that the kids frequent, if they're of an age where they take their discretionary money out like that for candy and toys. They might like being able to hang a little note and photo from the kids in the shop after the trip. "Thanks Mr Manager Name for helping our class see Name of Way Cool Kids Movie this January. We had a great time and got to take a tour of the projection booth!"

And one more thought- can you tie this trip in any way to the class materials? Technology - movie projection changes over the years, maybe the theater has an old reel to reel about. Math - how many movies does the theater run, how many times does each movie run each day? How many movies run during a week/ month/ year? How much candy does the movie theater sell? How many seats in each theater? History? Writing prompt? Science? Is there a kids movie coming out that is topical to their lessons? If any of this paragraph can be finagled, you might find some funding from the school board. Does your wife go to the school board meetings? If she's a familiar face there, it might make it easier to convince them to give her a yearly grant, depending on how your district does with that.
posted by bilabial at 4:39 PM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Don't most cities have discount theaters, where admission is a buck or two? If so, you can go to one of these dicount theaters, and you yourself could just pay the ten or twenty bucks for them to get in. Problem solved.
posted by jayder at 4:49 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to you all for helping me figure this out. It'll happen and I'll post the pics.

To you guys offering your own hard-earned cabbage or MeFi money, that's very generous, but I'll save that in case any of our kids actually become homeless or something.

Thanks again, you've given us plenty to work with.
posted by snsranch at 5:21 PM on December 17, 2006

Helping kids go to the movies? Hell yeah. If you can't find anythiing else, email me and I'll pony up some cash.
posted by boo_radley at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2006

I pretty much ditto everything above. When I interned at a homeless shelter, I was able to get tickets to a whole bunch of museums, events, etc. by just writing letters and making phone calls. I'd suggest looking to the independent theatres. If you tie it into classroom learning as mentioned above, maybe they'll even show you the projection room! And if it works, make sure the kids all sign a big thank-you card that they can put up in their lobby.
posted by radioamy at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2006

I'll sponsor all 10 if you need it. My email is in my profile I think. If you collect the money from those able to pay before you get to the theater, then no one will know who cannot afford it and you can use my (any) donation without making the 'unable to pay' kids stand out. When you send the permission slip home, put a note on it that says something like, "No child refused attendance based on need."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:50 PM on December 17, 2006

I know you said keep your MeFi money, but I second/third JohnnyGunn and others' offers to chip in - you're doing a good thing. My email's in my profile, also.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:05 PM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: UltraStar owns some theaters near San Diego, I'd try to contact the Director of Promotions there and see if you can get some tickets.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2006

having been a movie theatre manager for several years, i can tell you i'd have definitely said yes to this request. i suggest you go to a theatre during a non-busy time, and just ask the manager nicely.

for best results, have a letter typed up and ready to go explaining how many kids, how old they are, how many adult chaperones (i'd have wanted one for every 10-15 kids, i think, if the kids were around 12 years old-- more if they were younger), what you'd like besides free admission (maybe discounted popcorn or soft drinks), and what kind of movies you think would be appropriate.

maybe offer to help them out in return, like running an ad in the school newsletter or something, if that's possible.

if they do become a sort of educational partner and give you free stuff, you could thank them by having the students write a card or letter and sending it with a photo of the class that you took at the event- something the manager can hang in the lobby to advertise the business' ties to the community.

good luck!
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2006

Response by poster: I just want to thank you all again! When I posted this I really didn't know what to expect. I'm really floored by all of your ideas, comments and willingness to share. I promise to take and post photos from our next outing.
posted by snsranch at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2006

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