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Small Movie Theaters Get Creative to Fund Digital Cinema Transition

by Roy Choi | May 6, 2013May 6, 2013 9:00 pm PDT


From barbecues to crowd funding to raffle tickets, small town theaters are doing what they can to raise funds to convert theaters from film to digital projection systems. The movie-industry started making the change to digital about five years ago, and while most U.S. theaters have made the transition, about 1,000 theaters are still using film projectors.

These theaters have until the end of the year to make the move to digital projectors, as all major studios are ceasing to distribute film prints. To date, some two dozen theaters have taken to crowd funding websites like Kickstarter to raise nearly $1 million for the purposes of updating theaters in need of making the change.

Small, single screen theaters are at a disadvantage against multiplexes, considering economies of scale, fewer movie offerings, fewer showings and some theaters just can’t afford the $60,000 cost to switch to digital projectors. Traditional film prints take longer to create and distribute, modern digital theaters have the option of receiving content via satellite downloads, making film distribution instant.

Small town theaters have great social and financial importance for the communities they serve, acting as meeting places and help prop up other businesses nearby.  Loss of a small theater can have dire impact to the local economy and to morale.

Seems that crowd funding websites are the preferred method as the first place to go if ever money is needed to fund a project or solve a problem. Can you imagine how quickly the town of Hill Valley could save that darn clock tower if they had Kickstarter?

LA Times LA Times

Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...