NH #28: How to Book “The China Syndrome” as a Fundraiser/Consciousness Raiser

I believe that entertainment is a great way to get beyond people’s resistance to the nuclear issue and start them thinking and feeling about what needs to be done.  I don’t know if there is a more powerful commercial film for us than “The China Syndrome.”  Big names, great acting, harrowing message, funny hair and clothing — it has a lot going for it.

I compiled this information because we’re coming up on March 11 and booking a performance of this movie could prove to be an easy visibility piece on the nuclear issue to bring to your local communities.  Raise consciousness, raise money, anchor a one-day event – there’s no limit to what’s possible.  Use it in good health! – Libbe HaLevy, Producer/Host, Nuclear Hotseat Podcast


In an Established Movie Theatre

CONTACT:  Chris Lane at Sony – 310-244-7913 (Los Angeles), [email protected]

  • You would have to approach a local theatre about a one-day booking, find out their terms.
  • Sony leases out the film for $250/day vs. 35% of the box office, whichever is higher.  This is a deal they make directly with the theatre.  As a  result, you need to speak with the theatre first.  They will initiate contact with Sony.
  • For you to have a percentage of box office as a fundraiser, you’ll have to negotiate with the theatre.
  • One option would be to book the theatre for the day, show the film in the morning, have a day of consciousness-raising events, then show the film a second time at night.  At either screening, one-off viewers can be asked to pay a suggested donation.
  • If the theatre can play the film off a DVD, it is the responsibility of the theatre to secure a copy to play.
  • If the theatre can only play off a 35mm print, you need to get on this NOW, as there are very few prints available and shipping arrangements will have to be made.


Anything not a motion picture theatre: 

School, church/synagogue, auditorium, arts center, museum, outdoors, etc.

CONTACT:  Donna Call at Swank Motion Pictures (St. Louis); [email protected] (email only for first contact)

  • In order to have a public performance, you have to obtain a Public Performance License from Swank, for which there is a fee.  (Note: You cannot promote or advertise a screening if you do not have this license.)
  • The fee is based upon many variables, including where the screening takes place, size of venue, #screenings, #people expected, etc.  It can range from $100 to $500, averages $150 for a church.
  • If the venue is a K-12 school or public library, they may already have an annual license to present films.  If that is the case, there is no fee.
  • Most venues will play from a DVD – direct projection.
  • If you charge admission, the studio will want 50% of the box office.  You can get around this by:
    • Asking for a suggested donation, or
    • Making the screening part of a larger event with admission provided as part of the event at whatever the day costs.
  • Depending on where you live, the rep you deal with at Swank will be different.  They work from regions.
  • NOTE:  This information is for the US only.  I’m certain if you’re in another country, an email here will give you a lead to the local info you need.

The way to get started is to email (do not call!) Donna Call at:  [email protected] 

Put “China Syndrome” in the subject line.  She will direct you to the proper rep.  (We’ve chatted about the issue and I think she will do everything she can to help you secure your booking.)

We’re now at January 5.  You’ll need lead time to make this as effective as it deserves to be and we’re at just about two months, which is not a lot.  It will take some time to get the Public Performance License, so if you want to do this for March 11 and give yourself enough time to promote it, best to start ASAP.

Go get ’em!