Following a broad trend in Vermont, two additional theaters have turned to crowd funding to help remain in business. The Village Picture Shows of Manchester, and the Playhouse in Randolph have both begun Kickstarter campaigns to help purchase and install new projectors as the movie industry converts over to digital projection in favor of 35mm projection. This follows such theaters as the Big Picture theater in Waitsfield, and the Savoy in Montpelier, as well as several others.
The Playhouse Projector Project seeks to raise $20,000 in the next 54 days:
The Playhouse Movie Theatre was build in 1919 as a purpose built movie theater and has remained a single screen movie theater ever since. We are the oldest purpose built movie theater in Vermont. To continue seeing first run movies at the Playhouse we need to install a digital projector because the movie industry is quickly phasing out distribution of movies on film. All movies will soon be in digital format. To continue playing first-run movies requires installing a DCI complaint projection system. Without this equipment, the theater will close down.
The Digitize Village Picture Shows! fundraiser is seeking $175,000 to upgrade their facilities in the next 59 days.
The digital age of film is here. Like most movie theatre owners, we bought this theatre for our love of great films, and to provide a valuable spot for people in the community to come together, not as simply a business to run. This passion is what has kept the theatre running for the last several years. The studios are ceasing the production of 35mm film, phasing it out entirely by the end of 2013. Already, it is becoming harder and harder to get our hands on a 35mm print to play. As a small movie theatre in a small town, it is hard enough to lobby the distributors to rent us films, but now that they are producing fewer 35mm films, we are more behind the eight ball than ever. The large theatres in the country have already converted to digital projection, but the small ones like us, can’t incur the expense of conversion, so many are turning to Kickstarter and other sources to fund this huge cash outlay. Besides, we have been stapling, taping, gluing and tying our ancient and obsolete equipment together with string to keep the projectors whirring upstairs. Repairing them is next to impossible at this point. The jig is up. Village Picture Shows MUST convert to digital, or go out of business.
This is a major change in the industry, and it’s disheartening to see so many theaters struggling to remain open. If you’re a lover of films or a member of these communities, please consider pledging!