Movie theater owner Laemmle gives students sneak peek into business

The key to running a successful business is finding a niche. That’s according to Bob Laemmle, the Cal State L.A. alumnus from the Class of 1958 whose Laemmle Theatres have been screening independent films for more than 75 years.

“Everybody else is doing something their way,” said Laemmle. “There is no difference I can tell between these large theatre companies—Regal, AMC, Pacific—every one of their theatres is the same with the same programming. What we provide is a niche that is not being met by anybody else in the marketplace.”

The movie theatre mogul visited campus as part of the College of Business and Economics’ “Professor for a Day” series, which invites successful alumni to return to campus to share their stories and advice to young entrepreneurs and students.

The Laemmle family is one of the most renowned owners of independent theatres in the nation. They were also one of the first U.S. exhibitors to expose Americans to art house films.

A couple years after graduating from Cal State L.A. in 1958 with a degree in business administration, Laemmle joined his father in the family business, which at the time consisted of one theatre in Los Feliz.

Now, under the leadership of Bob’s son, Greg, the company currently offers 34 screens in seven locations, with new theatres opening soon in Glendale and Santa Monica.

During Thursday’s lecture, Laemmle talked about adapting to advancements in technology and the importance of business serving the community. He discussed the challenges of competition from big corporations and the pleasure of working in a family business.

“It is such a joy to run your own business and feel the appreciation that we get on a daily basis from customers that come to our theaters,” said Laemmle. “Many customers that come to our theaters don’t have a clue of what they want to see, but they know that if it’s playing in one of our theaters, it will have some merit to it and some interest.”

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