Movie booking agents, a.k.a. movie bookers, are theater employees who act as middlemen between movie theaters and Hollywood studios. Movie bookers are responsible for getting top movies for their theater. Good movie bookers can spot sleeper hits -- movies that are not billed as the next blockbuster, but turn into big hits over time. Since movie studios generally keep the largest percentage of ticket sales the first weeks a movie is shown in a given theater, bookers who reserve movies that increase in popularity over time for more than a few weeks help their theaters earn nice profits. For example, A Fish Called Wanda opened in 1988 on just three screens in the United States, but went on to make more than 10 times its estimated $7.5 million budget [source: IMDB].
Finally, movie bookers have to know what people in their area like; sometimes movies that are not all that popular overall may be extremely popular in specific regions. And people have flocked more and more to independent films. With no large distribution networks to back them, independent filmmakers must work directly with movie bookers to promote their films and get them shown in movie theaters.
Movie bookers are generally salaried employees of movie theater chains. Some bookers are more independent, however, and work for a number of smaller theaters. In this case, the booker generally charges the theaters a flat retainer fee for his services. Some freelance bookers charge theaters per film booked. There are not very many people who have these jobs, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks wages for people who work as agents and business managers for artists and performers. In 2009, these people averaged about $61,000 annually [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Salaries vary depending on the population and competition in a market, along with comparable salaries for similar positions.
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