Friday, December 28, 2012

How We Became "Best of Omaha"

We are so excited we are finally able to share the news we were voted Best Movie Theatre for Omaha Magazine's Best of Omaha 2013!  There actually wasn't a "Best Movie Theatre" category, so I called them to see if we could have it added before voting started.  They were so great and added the category that day!  We greatly appreciate all of our customers that took their time to vote.  We certainly wouldn't be where we are today without all of you!

We just had our 2-year anniversary on December 10th, and what an amazing 2 years it has been! 

We have raised over $23,000 this year for local charities including Angels Among Us, Youth Emergency Services, Together, Open Door Mission, Cystic Fibrosis, Hope Center for Kids, and the Anti-Defamation League Plains States. 

We hosted events ranging from Bicycle Dreams, Shakespeare Film Festival, Red Tails event with some original Tuskegee Airmen as part of Martin Luther King Jr. week, various ADL screenings, lots of birthday parties for kids and adults, Girls Night Out, PerfectMatch premiere, Anti-Hunger Summit, a wedding (our first), Urban Adventure Race kick off, Derby Baby!, Green Omaha Coalition event, Omaha Conservatory of Music Gala, a rehearsal dinner, Creighton Men's Basketball viewing parties, live music with Chris Saub, and more!

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the year!
Check presentation with the ADL
Chris Saub playing in the back lobby

Check presentation with Together

Sock drive for Open Door Mission

Red Tails event

Red Tails event

Food drive for Together

Check presentation with Open Door Mission

Children from Open Door Mission came to see a movie

Stormtroopers made an appearance

Bicycle Dreams event

Monday, May 14, 2012

CinemaCon 2012 Pt. 2

These last two days of CinemaCon were the highlights of the week for me.  The presentations were great, the award show was fun, and I was allowed to take some pictures!

In between all of the presentations, we were able to walk the trade show floor and check out anything new that has become available in the last year.  The funny thing was we already had the new things they were all promoting!  There were huge lines for the Coke Freestyle machines- which we already have, lots of talk around the new Wonka Candy machine- which we already have, and adding a bar concept- which we already have.  The new things we did look at were some new concession items including hummus, which we are now carrying.  We are trying out Sabra hummus in original, roasted red pepper, and roasted garlic flavors.  

Available at the concessions counter now!
On Wednesday, we were able to attend a luncheon called "Frankly Speaking: The Ever-Changing World of Filmmaking Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond" with guest speakers Ang Lee & Martin Scorsese.  This was the chance of a lifetime to hear the two of them talk about their experiences with filmmaking and how technology is changing it for them in a positive way.  Ang Lee was very honest in saying filmmaking was hard, and he is always learning.  Scorsese said he wants to make all of his films in 3D now after he experienced such great results with Hugo.  He said the future of 3D isn't gimmick with hands coming out at you, rather is it going to be able to show the depth of a characters face and costumes.  It will bring you into the story in a different way.  Lee was talking about his breakthrough technology while filming Life of Pi, which is currently in production.  He is the first director to use an underwater 3D camera, and from what we saw, it is unreal.  I could go on and on about this discussion they had, but I have a lot more to share.  If you are interested in more of what they said, check out this article:

That evening we had a presentation from Sony Pictures to attend.  This kicked off with Men in Black 3, which opens May 25th.  The footage we saw looked fun, and just what you would want in the third installment.  We were able to see an extended scene of That's My Boy starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg.  This is Adam Sandler's first rated- R film in a while, and it was funny!  My favorite from Sony was The Amazing Spider Man in 3D.  This 3D looks amazing, and will definitely want to see it!  Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel, looks like an awesome action thriller which opens on August 3rd.  Hope Springs starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell, a drama opening on August 10th, will take you with Meryl and Tommy as they are looking to light a spark in their relationship.  With Steve Carell, you know it is going to be   fun journey.  Sparkle is a musical drama opening on August 17th.  It is starring Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston, and is sure to please music fans.  Some other titles they showed us were Premium Rush opening August 24th, Resident Evil: Retribution 3D opening September 14th, Hotel Transylvania 3D opening September 28th, Looper opening September 28th, Here Comes the Boom opening October 12th, and Skyfall, the newest installment in the James Bond franchise, will open November 9th.  

We finally come to our last day, which kept us very busy!  We started with the Twentieth Century Fox presentation.  They started with an extended scene from Prometheus, starring Charlize Theron.  I'm not the biggest sci-fi person, but this was intriguing!  I am excited to see what this one brings on June 8th.  Next, we saw a trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Tim Burton who brings a "fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history's greatest hunter of the undead."  Ice Age: Continental Drift, opening on July 13th, is their family film of the summer, and the squirrel still makes you laugh.  The extended trailer we saw for Neighborhood Watch looks so funny!  It is starring Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, and Vince Vaughn.  We will be watching them take on the aliens who are trying to overrun their suburban neighborhood on July 27th.  Their summer is winding up with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the third installment in the popular series based off the successful book series, on August 3rd.  Their other great ones coming soon are Won't Back Down, Taken 2, Of Men and Mavericks, Parental Guidance, and Life of Pi.  They gave us a sneak peak for next year including A Good Day to Die Hard, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters, Leafmen, and The Wolverine.

Our last studio presentation was from Universal Pictures, and they have some great films coming!  Battleship kicks off their summer this Friday, and they brought out Brooklyn Decker to talk about being a part of the film.  Next, they brought out Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron to show us a bit from Snow White and the Huntsman.  On July 6th, the new Oliver Stone film Savages will be here.  They brought out Blake Lively, John Travolta,  and Salma Hayek to talk about working together, which was awesome seeing all of them!  Next, was a bit on the movie Ted.  They brought out Mila Kunis and Seth McFarlane, and he had people rolling.  The older gentleman in front of us was just shaking his head, but he was definitely the minority.  I am dying to see more of Ted because I have a weakness for talking animals in movies :)  Other titles they have this year are the newest Bourne film starring Jeremy Renner opening August 3rd, 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves opening November 21st, Les Miserables starring Russel Crowe and Anne Hathaway opening on December 14th, and opening on December 21st Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd will bring back Debbie and Pete from Knocked up in This is 40.  A sneak peak for the future includes Oblivion, Identity Thief, Fast & Furious 6, R.I.P.D., Despicable Me 2, and Jurassic Park 3D!  

Male Star of Tomorrow- Taylor Kitsch
This finally brings me to the awards show hosted by Coca Cola on our last night.  Enjoy the pictures!
Breakthrough Performer of the Year- Josh Hutcherson

Female Star of Tomorrow- Chloe Grace Moretz
Rising Star of 2012- Diego Boneta

Comedy Star of the Year- Anna Faris
Award of Excellence in Filmmaking- Judd Apatow

Cinema Icon Award- Michelle Pfeiffer
Female Star of the Year- Jennifer Garner

Ben Affleck as he sneaked out
Male Star of the Year- Jeremy Renner

Career Achievement Award- Sylvester Stallone

Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film- Charlize Theron

Me with Leslie Mann following the awards show

Thursday, May 10, 2012

CinemaCon 2012 Pt. 1

I wanted to write this post last week, but after CinemaCon it took me a week to get back in my routine.  I am finally caught up, so now I can share everything about the convention!  Since there is so much to share, I am going to do two parts and post the second one next week.

CinemaCon is a convention held in Las Vegas each year and it is for theatre owners, movie studios, and everyone in between to see what new technology is available, new concession items, upcoming movies, and more.  My parents have been going to this convention, previously named ShoWest, for over 20 years and this was my fourth time attending.  Being a part of this convention really makes me excited to be involved in this industry.  It is a week long reminder of why going to the movies is a wonderful, magical experience, and continues to be for all ages.

We started opening day with a Paramount Pictures presentation.  Sacha Baron Cohen made quite the entrance in costume as The Dictator, which opens on May 16th here at Aksarben Cinema.  We got to see an extended clip from the movie and you found yourself laughing and cringing at the same time, in true Sacha Baron Cohen fashion.  We saw a bit from Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, and Chris Rock came out and talked about working with this franchise, and he definitely had everyone laughing.  Next, they presented G.I. Joe: Retaliation and an appearance with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  He is as cool and charming as they get!  Some other films they have coming out this year are Katy Perry: Part of Me, Paranormal Activity, Not Fade Away, Fun Size, Flight, The Guilt Trip, Rise of the Guardians, and One Shot starring Tom Cruise (one of my favorite clips we saw all week).  That night they also gave Dwayne Johnson the Action Star of the Decade award.  

On Tuesday, we started the day off with the Warner Brothers presentation.  This started off with them talking about Dark Shadows.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat to see if Johnny Depp was going to come out because he rarely does things like this, and guess who walked out from the side of the stage...Johnny Depp and Tim Burton!  We aren't allowed to take pictures in these presentations, otherwise I would have a ton of them!  Pee Wee's Big Adventure was my favorite movie growing up, so it was really cool to see Tim Burton.  Next, we got to see some clips from Rock of Ages, Magic Mike, and The Campaign.  The best part of their presentation was Christopher Nolan coming out to talk about The Dark Knight Rises. He is so sleek and you just want him to keep talking.  We saw a compilation of scenes, and everyone was wanting to see more!  As I am sure you know, TDKR opens on July 20th.  We also got to see about fifteen minutes of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D from Peter Jackson.  There was a lot of talk about this because of the jump to 48 frames per second.  We were the first ones to see the film this way, and it was definitely different.  The new 48 frames per second may need a blog post of it's own.  Next, we saw my favorite compilation of scenes/trailer of the whole week.  I honestly almost started crying while watching it.  The Great Gatsby will be coming out on Christmas day and it will be starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire, and Carey Mulligan directed by the amazing Baz Luhrman (who also did Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet).  The colors, movement, and costumes are so Luhrman and it was beautiful!  

To finish the day we saw what Disney has coming.  They kicked off with The Avengers, which many of you now know is amazing.  We got to see the fight scene with Thor and Iron Man, broken up by Captain America.  The one that got me really excited was Brave.  We got to see the first 30 minutes in 3D, and it was beautiful.  I tend to get excited anytime there is a new red-head character :)  On June 29th, People Like Us will open starring Chris Pine, who made an appearance, and Elizabeth Banks.  This is going to be a great heartfelt story inspired by true events.  We also got to see Jennifer Garner promoting The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which looks wonderful and sweet.   This one opens on August 15th.  Frankenweenie, a stop motion black and white film by Tim Burton opening this October looks great too.  You immediately fall in love with the little boy and his dog.  They also showed us a clip of Finding Nemo in 3D being re-released September 14th.  The 3D looked great, especially the bubbles in the water!

My next post will include what it was like to hear Martin Scorsese and Ang Lee discuss filmmaking, the award show, and other studio presentations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Mini Bar

We have had some exciting new changes for The Bar here at Aksarben Cinema.  Recently, we have added Hennessy, Courvoisier, Merlot, Moscato, a red and a white house wine, Blue Moon Summer Blonde Wheat Ale, Shock Top, Busch Light, Lucky Bucket Wheat, and Lucky Bucket IPA.  We love adding new products, and have something for everyone.

You may have also seen our new 'Mini' Bar in the front lobby near the control room.  We debuted it this past weekend for our customers' use.  We added this to be able to provide our customers with the bar experience in the lobby with a bottled beer and wine selection.  

We also have a new beer cooler in The Bar, the one in the back lobby.  We replaced the popcorn machine with this beautiful cooler.  We are able to expand our selection now because of this added space, which I am really excited about.  Here are some before and after pictures of the project.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Girls Night Out

It has been a few weeks since my last posting, so I am going to catch up a bit.  We have had so many events in the last few weeks, but a couple of my favorites were letting the kids from the Lydia House come again to see a new movie.  We had about 30 kids and staff come see The Lorax, and all had kiddie combos in hand.  Let's not forget about The Hunger Games as well!  For the midnight premiere we had over 1,600 people filling all 10 of our auditoriums.  We absolutely love when a movie like this comes along and we get to have fun with it.  

Last night we hosted our first Girls Night Out event in conjunction with Titanic 3D.  My friend Tracy Ponec is opening Rhylan Lang, a bridal boutique, at Regency Court next month.  She came to me about a month ago asking if we would like to do something like this.  We were all over it from the beginning, but didn't really know what it would turn into.  We ended up getting great support from local businesses that wanted to be a part of the night out.  We had sushi from Ponzu, cupcakes from Jones Bros, chips, salsa, and guacamole from Mojos Smokehouse & Ales, Chris Saub performed, Statement boutique was here selling some accessories, T'eez Salon was here styling our guests hair, Rhylan Lang was displaying one of her beautiful wedding dresses, Megan Christine Photography had a vintage themed photobooth, and STEP Group was here promoting Haute City.  On top of having all of them here, we had some awesome prizes- a gift card to Luvbird, a gift from Statement, a gift card to Aksarben Cinema, passes to Haute City on May 19th, photo sessions with Megan Christine Photography, and a beautiful Swarovski necklace donated by Rhylan Lang.  Here are some pictures from the event!

Be sure to check out all the businesses that were a part of our event!

Rhylan Lang:

Megan Christine Photography:

Chris Saub: 

Jones Bros Cupcakes:

Mojos Smokehouse & Ales:

STEP Group: 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One More Great Event in the Books

Last night we hosted a great event for the Anti-Defamation League at the theatre.  They screened a documentary called When We Stop Counting, which focuses on immigration and the school system in Crete, Nebraska.  They did this to a sold out crowd.  They had a very engaging panel to answer questions following the film including the Co-Director, the Crete Superintendent, a Crete Bilingual Guidance Counselor, and a student featured in the film.  They also had someone here ready to help people register to vote, if they haven't done so already.

One of the pictures I posted from the event sparked a few comments about how we do things at Aksarben Cinema, and I kind of took it to heart.  Someone mentioned we are getting too political with our events.  Sure we may swing one way more than the other in that sense, but I don’t feel like we do anything but serve a true, genuine, good purpose.  My family, our staff, and I take a lot of pride in the community outreach we have done in the short time we have been open. 

We don’t discriminate against anyone who comes to us with an idea for an event, and we do the best we can to help them make their event a success.  We have done some great fundraising events for local churches and schools raising money for new computers, food groups raising money to help local farmers, biking groups raising awareness about biking in our community, and the list goes on.  We absolutely love doing events like these because they are fun, always create an exciting atmosphere, and those attending always have a great time.

We have received so many appreciative comments from our customers about everything we have started doing in the theatre, which we invite them to participate in.  One customer this weekend told me they like how easy we make it for them to donate or contribute, and that was our ultimate goal.

If you would like to learn more about the ADL check out their new Facebook page: ADL -Anti-Defamation League (Plains States) and their website:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Donations at the Box Office

Before we opened, we knew we wanted to be able to leverage the amount of customers we were going to have and have something good come out of that.  We decided we were going to collect $1 donations at the box office for a local non-profit and allow our customers to contribute easily, quickly, and locally.  

We had heard about a local organization called Angels Among Us.  They provide financial assistance to families who have a child diagnosed with cancer.  After meeting some of the families being helped and learning more about what they are able to provide, we knew we found an organization we wanted to help as much as we could.  Since we opened we have raised over $9,000 for them and the families they assist.

After being open a couple of months, I was being approached by so many local, worthy organizations.  We decided to open up the program and collect for Angels Among Us every other month and spread the love through the community.  We are still able to provide a lot of financial assistance to them, as well as many organizations I was just learning about.  

We have worked with The Red Cross, American Heart Association, Nebraska Humane Society, Women's Center for Advancement, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Together, Inc since we have opened and raised over $7,500.  In the next year we will be working with Cystic Fibrosis, Youth Emergency Services, Hope Center, Anti-Defamation League, Nebraska Kidney Association, and Hearts United for Animals, and of course Angels Among Us.

For the month of March, we are collecting for Open Door Mission.  My mom and I are starting to get more involved with the Mission, and what they are doing down there is incredible.  We attended a baby shower down there a couple weeks ago collecting new baby items for mothers staying at the Lydia House shelter, which I thought was a fabulous idea.  We were also able to attend their President's Luncheon and learn about what they have happening this year.  They will be completing their newest building soon including a larger kitchen to provide meals, emergency shelter for women, and the men's shelter.  It is fantastic to see how much they have been able to accomplish and see how much the people in the community are standing behind them.  

If you are interested in doing a tour there, definitely give them a call.  They also collect gently used items for clients to shop through in their Timberlake Outreach Center. Next time you are in, please consider donating $1 to Open Door Mission.  

For more information visit their website:

If you are involved with a local non-profit, and would like to discuss our program, please give me a call at 402-502-1914.  I would be happy to discuss it with you!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Working with Together, Inc

Last fall, my dad and I went on a tour at Together, Inc downtown on 16th and Cass.  I didn't know about the organization before this day, and I can honestly say a couple of hours there completely changed the way I see things.  

Together, Inc was started in Omaha in 1975 in response to the tornado which hit hard that year.  It was started as a collaborative effort between a few churches to provide basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter.  They realized people in Omaha needed that help everyday, so they opened their free services year round.  Today, Together, Inc is a food bank supplying other food pantries in the Omaha area, they provide rent and utility assistance, and have a store where clients can shop for free.  

We toured their storage space for the USDA food they receive, and at the time I could have done cartwheels in the space.  They told us their USDA deliveries, which had been pretty steady, were desperately needed and not coming as often.  Before deliveries slowed, they said you could barely walk through the room around the pallets.  There wasn't much USDA food to choose from, and shelves were looking bare.  

After our tour, we sat around a table and tried coming up with ways we, Aksarben Cinema, could help their cause.  We all came up with a great idea, and the result has been amazing!  Give Us Your Food, We'll Give You Ours is the weekly campaign we are running for Together, Inc.  On Sunday's, we ask our customers to bring in a canned good or non-perishable item, and we give them free popcorn in return.  We do this every Sunday, with no end in sight.  It is such an easy way for us to involve our customers, and spread the word about  the great work Together is doing.

After we started this program, and seeing a great response, we were awarded the 'Compassion' award at the Together, Inc luncheon this past fall.  While, we don't do any of this for the recognition, it was really nice to be honored this way.

We have a Free Family Flicks program we do twice a year, in the winter and summer. This year we changed it up this time around to make it Free*.  Customers are invited to see a family film for free with the donation of a canned good, or $1 donation per person.  All of the proceeds are going straight to Together, Inc.  The response from our customers has been so wonderful.  Some customers have commented they like the way it sets an example for their children to help those less fortunate than them.  

When you think about hunger and homelessness, you don't think about it happening here in Omaha.  Maybe it's because it isn't right in front of your face, or you don't want to think it is an issue, but we need to recognize it and do what we can.  The community service aspect of my job here at the theatre, is my absolute favorite part. I have learned so much about so many organizations in the area doing everything they can to help those that need it.  If you want to get involved with Together, Inc and volunteer, give them a call.  I went down for a morning and worked the check in desk for clients and helped organize clothes in the store. Even a couple hours makes a difference.  Their number is (402) 345-8047.  

Thank you to everyone who has donated!

Friday, February 24, 2012

I decided to start this blog to be able to give the back story on the things we decide to do here at Aksarben Cinema. We are a very organic group, and like to do things a little different. We are a local and independent theatre, which means we are the ones in control of the image we are giving out every day with each customer that comes through our doors.

The focus of this blog is going to be a little all over the place giving you insight into pieces of our world including our community service, booking of film, technology, development in the area, and probably more. We tend to be a group that flies by the seat of our pants, but I like that about us.