by Clay Chandler, Mississippi Business Journal

The results of a survey conducted by a Millsaps College marketing class geared toward a proposed theater in Fondren were better than expected, one of the developers said (last week).

Jason Watkins is part of the group that wants to restore the old Pix/Capri Theater in the historic neighborhood’s business district.

Gauging interest in the project was part of the curriculum for a graduate-level marketing class at Millsaps last spring. Watkins said he got the results in early summer, and after digesting them, came away pleased.

“We really got incredibly strong feedback. The scope of what they did is pretty amazing. They collected thousands of surveys. I guess around 2.000. The results were pretty dramatically in favor of the model we’re trying to do.”

Watkins’ group hope to turn the Pix/Capri into a dine-in theater, in which patrons can watch a movie in a restaurant-like atmosphere, complete with food and beverages.

Millsaps students broken into groups set up websites that asked basic demand questions – like how likely a respondent would be to patronize the theater – and more in-depth diagnostic questions, such as their interest in certain food and beverage offerings and their price points.

“We expected a good response, but it really far exceeded our expectations,” Watkins said. “It took the element of chance out in a lot of ways. There’s something about the Fondren area that the respondents seem to be drawn to over other areas of Jackson. I do think that gives us an advantage.”

Watkins said his group has hired a theater consultant to aid in picking an operator for the theater. “I had hoped we could have made an announcement on who that was by now, but we’re not there yet.”

Selecting an operator will help firm up timetables for the theater’s construction and opening, Watkins said.

The Pix/Capri stopped showing films in the late 1980s, and has sat mostly vacant since, with the exception of temporary tenants.

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