Our Campaign calls for $65,000, help us raise $50,000 or more here on Kickstarter! We have raised $9,000 dollars with fundraisers and donations for our digital projector so far to date but our window to convert to digital is closing fast.
My name is Randy Lizzio owner and operator of the Historic Onarga Theater in Onarga Illinois. Below is a little background information of the theater and how we are trying to save this historic landmark.
The Historic Onarga Theater is in danger of closing its doors forever.............
After being a staple in the community for over 75 years. Digital projection is here and has changed the way movies are being shown. There has not been such a huge change in the movie theater industry since they introduced sound over 75 years ago, in which it is rumored that the Onarga Theater back then named the Modernistic was the first theater south of Chicago to show "talkies"
I love to hear the stories told by many different generations of how there used to be a line around the block of people waiting to get in the theater. And how things used to be, and fond memories. At the Onarga Theater we start every movie with a reel of the National Anthem to pay tribute and remember the men and women who gave us freedom.. We still show and take time out with a intermission reel half way thru the movie. These are all things you will not find in the multi-plexes. At the Onarga Theater we not only show you a movie we try to create a experience that you will remember and come back and see us again. We also do drawing at intermission time for prizes.
The Onarga Theater has been showing movies with a 35mm projector since it was opened. Our equipment in the theater now is not very old but the industry has been slowly converting over to digital movie prints which requires a special digital projector that the movie industry has approved . Unfortunaltey the time has come where all movie theatres have to change the way they show movies and are being forced to purchase a new projector or go out of business. We have been told that 35mm movies will no longer be produced by the end of this year. The large theaters have converted because they get incentives from the movies companies themselves to pay for their equipment. But to. theatres like the Onarga Theaters single screen , it could prove to be devastating. The cost to convert the Onarga Theater to digital is $65,000, and this is without 3-D capabilites. All around the state smaller single screen theater are closing, its sad the theaters that started the movie business are unable to raise the funds needed to remain in business showing movies and that history will be gone as these theaters are torn down to make way for new developments which has happened to so many theaters of the past.. We are the only movie theater in our county. And the only theater in our area not owned by a large company. There used to be a theater in every small town. We are one of the last historic theaters in this area that is open and showing movies. The theater is vital to other businesses in our area, in its ability to bring in customers to see a movie then they also go to the area restaurants, gas stations and stores.
The Onarga Theatre is family owned and operated. Since we have took ownership in July 2008 we have made many improvements to the theater . We have had to make many repairs and updates in the building and the equipment. We have updated the sound system the theater really needed so that it is able to reproduce the sound of movies of today and be digital ready. We have replaced equipment and the way things are done here at the Onarga Theater to make it a better place for everyone to go but yet keeping its historic value. The Onarga Theater cannot absored anymore debt than it already has. Operation expenses have doubled and in some cases tripled since we took ownership in 2008. We try really hard to make the Onarga Theater a place that everyone can come and enjoy. Our pricing is $5.00 for admission and concessions are very inexpensive compared to the larger theater chains. We are happy if at the end of the year we can break even. And that of course doesn't include the many hours each weekend our family spends at the theater and the many hours during the week organizing the movies, stocking the concessions etc and our family does it with out pay.. If we are lucky enough to make a few dollars after expenses are paid it goes right back into the theater for needed improvements. We work very hard to keep this theater open and operating. Single screen theaters have it the hardest out of all types of theaters.
We enjoy coming to the theatre each weekend and sharing the movie experience with so many. We have the best customers in the world. And our exsistance is not only important to us but also for the other businesses and the town of Onarga itself. The theater helps to bring in new customers to keep other business busy. We strive to keep the theatre open and at a cost where all families can come and share the experience with their children. Our philosophy is unlike the large movie theater chains in the fact that we want to provide low cost entertainment to everyone and a family friendly experience. This projector conversion is one that could force us to shut the doors and after all the hard work and effort already put into this theater. Although financing for it is available, the theater would not be able to afford additional debt to this extent. Therefore, we are reaching out for your support in rasing the funds to purchase a digital projector.
Together we can save the Onarga Theater !
Thank-you to everyone who has or will contribute we really do appreciate your kindness and we will keep working hard for you...And we thank you for your generosity.
Funds raised will go toward the projector conversion cost. We believe that we can with your help reach our goal and keep a small town historic movie theater alive and open for generations to come, in a world where most of the single screen theaters have met their dimise. We love this theater and will try our best for it to remain open and the only way to do that is too raise this money for a digital projector.. Without this fundraising effort the ONARGA THEATER will be forced to close for good.
Here is some history of the Onarga Theater.
Opened in 1937 as the Modernistic, this movie house was built in Art Moderne style on Seminary Avenue. The theater was the first movie theater south of Chicago to show movies with sound(a talkie). A few years after it opened, the theater's name was shortened to the Modern. In the late 40s, it was acquired by the Kerasotes chain, which renamed the theater by shortening its name once again, as the Mode.
In July of 2008 the Lizzios took ownership of the Onarga Theater. They are always making improvements. After our purchase we found out the furnaces were not safe and we replaced both of them right away. Many new changes followed. They added many new concession products, including candy, soft pretzels, fresh carmel corn, and cotton candy. A new popcorn machine was purchased and new larger popping popcorn and a better quality oil. Theater size candy was added and the family tub of popcorn. They also created uniforms for all of the employees to make it easier for customers of the theater to locate a employee. We repaired the NEON so that it lit up the front of the marquee again.
November 2010 All new surround system installed, new digital processor installed, that is digital ready, a subwoofer added to the system. Also installed 4 new amplifiers which doubles the old system. The sound is a huge improvement over the old system, and is now up to date with the current systems of today we hope you will come over and hear for yourself.
The marquee had all new lighting and signs installed. A new digital sign was installed outside to let people know what the upcoming movies are. A new ceiling in the concession, along with a lighted menu board, new ceiling lighting, a coat of paint outside and a POS system to make concession sales go faster and get you to your seats.
4 Admission Passes + 2 Free Large Popcorn +2 Free large sodas and 2 free candy bars + Website Recognition + Special Onarga Theater T-Shirt and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
4 Admission Passes + 4 Free Large Popcorn or fresh made caramel corn +4 Free large sodas and 4 free candy bars + Website Recognition + 2 Special Onarga Theater T-Shirts and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
On-screen advertising for one month for your business or personal greeting. Plus + 4 Admission Passes + 4 Free Large Popcorns or fresh made caramel corn and 4 Free large sodas and 4 free candy bars + 2 Special Onarga Theater T-Shirt and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
Private Screening Event (you get to choose the movie to play and you can bring your friends and family for a private showing at the Onarga Theater! (Movies and times limited to their availability, friends and family limited to theater capacity max 200) Plus 2 special onarga theater t-shirts and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
Two passes good to see 20 movies each. So that is 40 free admissions, 20 free small pops and popcorn. Plus On-screen advertising for one month for your business or personal greeting + 2 Special Onarga Theater T-Shirt and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
One year of on-screen advertising on the big screen and one year of advertising on our lobby screen in our concession area for your business or personal greeting. Two passes good to see 20 movies each and 40 free small popcorns and sodas. So that is 40 free admissions, with a small soda and popcorn. + 2 Special Onarga Theater T-Shirts and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque and Website Recognition for your donation!
1 lifetime movie pass with free pop and popcorn each time you visit. Plus a plaque in the lobby recognizing your Generosity for generations to come. Plus Website Recognition + 4 Special Onarga Theater T-Shirts and Special name recognition on our Friends of the Onarga Theater Plaque.