Funded! This project was successfully funded on December 28, 2012.

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Hollywood is forcing all theaters to upgrade to digital projection as the era of 35mm film comes to an end in early 2013!

The Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center is a world-class art house cinema located in Washington Square, the historic center of Newport, Rhode Island. The films that are screened and the events that are created in this unique public meeting space, appeal to a broad range of the local community as well as to an important tourist base. The JPT was named one of the top five cinemas in New England by Yankee Magazine.  The building was the subject of a Master's Studio at the Rhode Island School of Design School of Architecture in Spring 2012. As one of America's oldest movie theaters, the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center is an important part of the social fabric of the city Newport.  And we were chosen by Newport Life Magazine this year as "Best Date Night" in Newport.

Originally constructed as Zion Episcopal Church in 1834, The Pickens was converted to a theater in 1919.
Originally constructed as Zion Episcopal Church in 1834, The Pickens was converted to a theater in 1919.

As the only movie house in downtown Newport, The Pickens, as it is known locally, is a film and event space with a sense of style based on history.  The  schedule of screenings is diverse.  First run movies, documentaries and classic films share the screen with prerecorded and live simulcast operas, ballets and staged productions from acclaimed venues like the Bolshoi Ballet, The National Theatre in London and Teatro Alla Scala. In addition to the events shown on our screen, The Pickens plays host to live concerts, special events and even weddings!  Community is at the core of our mission.  We strive to create events that connect to a broad range of audiences and to utilize this historic building to the fullest potential.

We now face a challenge to our ability to continue to bring these special experiences to you.

The film distributors who provide our films and sell us the rights to show them have made the decision to discontinue making 35 mm film sometime in 2013. Our challenge is that the equipment needed to change to digital receipt of films will cost at least $55,000.  While our business at the JPT continues to make strides in a positive direction, the cash flow does not allow us the surplus funds to invest in this equipment.  We continue to do all we can to give back to the community of Newport but for owners Kathy & David Staab further personal investment on this scale is not currently an option.  

Consistent programming of Oscar worthy independent and foreign films such as  The Artist, Moonrise Kingdom, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The King's Speech, The Master, Arbitrage, Anna Karenina and more will only be available to us if we have this new digital equipment.

The major risk for the future of the JPT is that if we cannot achieve this goal, our business cannot survive on secondary films. We will be forced to convert to an event space only or give up on all the efforts/progress of the past eight years due to technical issues beyond our control. 

So here is a photo of the 35mm projection equipment we now use. Our films still arrive in big metal film canisters and are built up and broken down by hand. We would keep this equipment in our historic booth for screening 35mm classics. 

What is needed is a digital projection system and some improvement to our sound system. If we are so fortunate as to exceed this financial goal, we will use the funds for sound improvements first, then explore the ability to "fly" our screen off stage which would expand our stage area for live performance. These improvements make this historic building more flexible and improve our chances for preservation both of the business and the building.

Remember, we do not receive any funds if we not need achieve our $55000 goal. 

Our old 35mm projector, a beast from a bygone era!  We will keep her up and running for screening  35mm classics, but she will soon be getting a much deserved rest.
Our old 35mm projector, a beast from a bygone era! We will keep her up and running for screening 35mm classics, but she will soon be getting a much deserved rest.

Movie projection has changed only a few times in the past 100 years, but the departure from prints of film to digital distribution and projection is monumental.  Our art house cinema has kept pace with past changes.  The leap from silent to "talkies" in 1927 gave audiences the thrill of sound along with picture, the switch from Reel to Reel projection to "platters" alleviated the need for multiple projectors to show a single film and eliminated the rewinding of films, and now the studios are going digital.  Each change has required theater owners to upgrade their equipment, but each change has also meant a more meaningful and fulfilling experience for the theatergoer. 

The history of the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center is remarkable.  A complete history can be found here.  In a nutshell, our building was constructed in 1834 as the Zion Episcopal Church designed by architect Russell Warren.  In 1919, the church was converted to a theater space and we are now celebrating our 93rd year as a theater!  The Marr and Colton theater organ sits beside the stage with two pipe lofts flanking our screen.  While the organ is not currently operational, the ambiance and nostalgia surrounding a true theater organ cannot be replicated.

A view from our balcony.  Our Marr and Colton Theater Organ can be seen to the left of the stage.
A view from our balcony. Our Marr and Colton Theater Organ can be seen to the left of the stage.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our biggest obstacle is the timing of this project and ability to install the equipment. We need to book the installation quickly. We may have 6 months, perhaps slightly longer, before the industry makes a complete transition. However, even if 35mm remains available, it will be in a drastically reduced stock that could impact product availability. The digital installers are presently so inundated with digital upgrade appointments that their calendars are booked out many months in advance. We need to get this scheduled!

Once we install the new equipment other issues will arise that will need to be addressed. We will need to prioritize these issues as listed below and take on those challenges. In the past eight years, the Staabs have personally funded many necessary upgrades including including the mandated conversation of the fire alarm system and much of the cost of the new heating system.
Most of these improvements have not produced revenue but have allowed us to continue to offer the unique experience that the JPT provides our customer.

We want to tackle these challenges separately to make our transition to digital as smooth as possible. We do not want to interrupt our ability to continue offering quality programming while a lengthy installation is completed, so we are planning it in stages.

Step 1 - The digital projector, digital film server, proper lenses, installation and spare bulbs/parts that should be on hand.

Step 2 - Upgraded sound system including Dolby Digital processor, amps, speakers, and new cables.

Step 3 - Restoration of the stage space. Repair and renovation to fly lines to allow for screen to be pulled up and off the stage, offering more room for events on stage without risking damage to the screen.

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    Receive a large popcorn and a large drink at your next visit. Value: $11

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    JPT Date Night Package: Two movie passes plus a Large Popcorn and 2 medium fountain drinks. Your name on the donor website and displayed on the screen before each movie. Value: $34

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    The Out of Towner: For those who love the JPT, visit us only in the summer and want to help. Your name will be displayed on our website and on our "Out of Towner" donors screen before each movie. Please contribute and support the importance of the art house cinema movement. Value: the warm fuzzy feeling you get is priceless

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    TWO "JPT Date Night Packages": Each includes TWO movie passes plus a large popcorn and two medium fountain drinks, your name on the donor page of the website and displayed on the screen before each movie. Value:$68

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    Premium Date Night with Friends Package: FOUR movie passes, TWO large popcorns, FOUR small fountain drinks, Free admission for 2 to CINEMA PARADISO screening on December 13th, Your name on the donor page of the website and on the screen before each movie. Value: $100

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    Out of Towner Plus: For those who love the JPT, visit us only in the summer and want to help. Your name will be displayed on our website and on the "Out of Towner" donation screen before each show as a special thank you. We will send you a "Love the JPT Newport" ball cap so you can show that you care where you live! Please contribute and support the importance of the art house cinema movement. Value: A warmer, fuzzier feeling

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    Membership Plus Package: Receive JPT Cinema Club Membership for one year, JPT Cinema Club members receive $6 admission on feature films plus invites to special events, Two movie passes for a film of your choice, Free admission for 2 to CINEMA PARADISO Grand Finale Party & Screening on December 13th And when you come, you can sport two new "Love the JPT Newport" ball caps Value: $140

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    A two person Membership to the JPT Cinema Club, Four passes to movie of your choice, a free small popcorn and small drinks at every movie you see for a year, Free admission for 2 to CINEMA PARADISO Grand Finale Party & Screening on December 13th, and a pair of " Love The JPT Newport" ball caps Value: $400

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    The "all the SWAG" package: A two person JPT Cinema Club Membership for one year, Four passes to movie of your choice plus Two JPT blankets, Two " Love the JPT Newport" ball caps, free popcorn and a drink for a year when you attend a film at the JPT, 11' by 17" Moonrise Kingdom poster, The opportunity to select 2 posters from our archives, your name on a special slide before each movie honoring donors and your name engraved on a KEEP THE JPT plaque to be displayed in the lobby. Value: $675

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    Donor Who Is Just Thankful for Art House Cinema in Newport: Want to Support the Mission of the JPT (no swag necessary) Giving just because the JPT is important to our community. Thanks! Value: Warmest and fuzziest feeling ever!

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    Silver Donor Package: Two lifetime membership to the JPT Cinema Club, Two JPT blankets, Two "LOVE THE JPT NEWPORT" ball caps, Free popcorn and a drink for a year when you attend a film at the JPT, Free admission for 12 to CINEMA PARADISO Grand Finale Party & Screening on December 13th, Your name on a special slide before each movie honoring donors over $1000 and your name engraved on a KEEP THE JPT plaque to be displayed in the lobby. Value:$1450

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    Your Private Night at the JPT: Private late night screening night for you and your friends. Pick your date & favorite film (subject to availability) invite your friends to your own red carpet evening. Free popcorn for all your guests, Your name on a special slide before each movie honoring donors over $1000 and your name engraved on a KEEP THE JPT plaque to be displayed in the lobby, Your name or your company's name on the marquee. Value:$3200

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    Free Lifetime admission for two to the JPT feature films, a private dinner for 12 people on the stage with a private screening of your favorite movie AND you get to choose the film for an upcoming special event at the JPT (subject to availability). Free admission for 12 to CINEMA PARADISO Grand Finale Party & Screening on December 13th, Your name on a special slide before each movie honoring donors over $1000 and your name engraved on a KEEP THE JPT plaque to be displayed in the lobby. Value: Our eternal gratitude that cannot be measured!

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Funding period

- (30 days)