Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 24, 2012.

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Hollywood studios could force a historic Chicagoland movie theater to close! Movie lovers can help save The Catlow.

Will The Catlow Go Digital Or Go Dark?

Hello! My name is Tim O'Connor. Along with my co-partner and fiancé, Roberta Rapata, we run the Catlow Theater in Barrington, Illinois.

The Hollywood movie studios are committed to reducing their movie production and distribution costs by eliminating the use of film. Very soon, every movie theater in the country will either have converted their film projection systems to the new digital format or they will be out of business with no movies to show.

The message from the movie companies to small theaters like ours is clear:  "Go digital or go dark."

Hollywood’s edict means the 85-year old Catlow Theater must upgrade its audio and visual equipment at a cost of at least $100,000. The multiplexes and large chains are getting substantial discounts for their digital conversions. We are not!

We intend to stay in business, but we’ll need a lot of support from those who love movies and who appreciate historic movie houses like The Catlow.

Catlow Theater Auditorium
Catlow Theater Auditorium

Digital is the future and the future is here

Just as “talkies” represented positive change for movie audiences of the 1920s, the switch to a digital presentation is good news for today’s movie lovers. The digital picture and sound will be OUTSTANDING! Catlow patrons will never again have to watch damaged film; No more scratches, pops, splices, missing frames, with warbled or distorted sound.

Digital presentation means that the picture looks and sounds great when you run it. No more wear and tear of film dragging through the many sprocket holes on a projector with a 2,000-watt bulb shining through it.

Digital will allow our historic theater to present movies in a state-of-the-art format and will keep The Catlow viable for decades to come so that future generations can continue to enjoy this unique movie experience!

What does The Catlow need to “go digital?”

  • A digital projector
  • An upgraded audio system to deliver digitally produced sound.
  • New lenses to display the movie properly on the screen.
  • A server to download and store the digital movie content.
  • A backup system to keep the server online in case of power failure.
  • A new screen and masking to capture the digital images.
  • The base for the projection system and server.
  • Backup spare parts - can't afford a second projector for backup like we now have, so we need to keep a few spare parts on hand.
  • Fees to cover the cost of delivery, installation and alignment of this new equipment. Plus the construction fees to widen the projector window for the lens.

We plan to stay away from the 3D system for now (or forever!) so that we may continue to keep our admission price low.

The historic Catlow

The Catlow has an interesting history. You can read about it on The Catlow website history page.

Among the highlights:

  • Construction of the Catlow Building was completed in 1927. It includes a movie theater complete with stage and two dressing rooms. There are two storefronts at street level and three small apartments on the second level.
  • The architects were Betts & Holcomb, but the building's main claim to fame is the participation of the noted Prairie School sculpture and designer Alfonso Iannelli - a collaborator of Frank Lloyd Wrights on Midway Gardens. ArchiTech Gallery has a detailed bio of him here.
  • Iannelli's interior design of the Catlow Theater helped the building gain a listing on the National Register Of Historic Places.
  • In its first few years, the Catlow Theater presented live acts, including musicians, vaudevillians and traveling acts. It also featured silent films from the era. Gene Autry, Sally Rand and Red Norvo were among the more prominent acts to appear here.
Catlow Theater Foyer
Catlow Theater Foyer

When the Catlow first opened its doors in 1927, we were one of the few theaters serving Barrington and the surrounding areas. Since the early 1990's, three multiplexes with 47 new screens have popped up in the area cutting into our market, but our patrons tell us that the experience they have at The Catlow is unique and worth preserving.

We continue serving the community today by charging low admission prices ($5.00) and by keeping our concession prices low so the movie going experience is more affordable for everyone, especially families.

The Catlow was one of the first, if not THE first, movie theaters in the country to offer in-theater dining, thanks to our close relationship with Boloney's Sandwich Shop next door.

The Catlow & Boloney's on ABC-TV's '190 North'

Boloney's & Catlow on WGN-TV's 'Chicago's Best'

Boloney's Sandwich Shop
Boloney's Sandwich Shop

In 1995, the Catlow was among the first theaters to reach out to our patrons via the Internet and invite them to help us choose the movies we present.

We list on our website movie titles that our customers might want to see and they vote for the ones they like best. Our philosophy is, "This is your theater. You tell us the movies that you want to see, and we'll try our hardest to book them."

Save The Catlow

Friends, our back is against the wall. The Catlow still draws enough customers to keep the doors open, but the expenses continue to rise; mortgage, utility and supply bills, employee expenses, cleaning staff and, of course, taxes.

Add to that the maintenance required for an 85 year-old historic structure.

The Catlow can be saved, but only with your support.

Kickstarter to the rescue!

We were pleased to find out about Kickstarter and the opportunity it presents to help us raise the necessary funding from donors to help us convert to the new digital standard looming over us.

An additional expense of at least $100,000 is more than we can handle by ourselves.

This Kickstarter project can be the answer to our prayers! Everyone involved will benefit from this digital conversion. It will allow The Catlow to carry on for many more years of service to the community and it will provide current and future generations with an even greater movie-going experience that you will only find at this historic one-screen neighborhood theater.

Our patrons will be treated to images and sounds greater than they've ever seen before at The Catlow.

To our donors, enjoy your rewards!  We've tried to make them a great value for your donation bracket.

Keep in mind that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding opportunity. If we don't reach our goal, the pledged funds disappear and we have nothing. On the other hand, if we should be fortunate enough to exceed our goal, those additional funds will be used for other modifications that The Catlow so badly needs.

We hope to see you all soon - and if you're not from the area, we hope one day you get the opportunity to visit us!

Thank you for your support - the future of The Catlow, a theater with a great and historic past, is in your hands.

The Catlow Theater-1930
The Catlow Theater-1930

And finally, Roberta & I have special thanks to give to Charlie McBarron and Carl Rauchenberger, Art Rice and Karen Buzek for their never ending help and support; Tim Streff for the background music on the video (t_streff@sbcglobal.net) and the guys at BHS-TV Filming Group... Jeff Doles, Peter Chung and Ryan Woodlock - and to all of our friends, patrons & employees!

FAQ

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    15 backers

    We will be eternally grateful for your donation! (Thanks, Tonya, for the request!!!)

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    71 backers

    Supporter Of The Catlow: 1 free admission movie pass - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show.

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    316 backers

    Friend Of The Catlow: 2 free admission movie passes - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show.

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    44 backers

    Global Reward: For donors that won't be able to visit The Catlow in person... We will provide you with a video walk-through tour of the theater, projection booth and Boloney's Sandwich Shop next door. The booth portion of the tour will include the film projection system that we have now and then the digital system after it is installed. We will upload this online to a secured location and send along the password needed to download the video file. Plus, a Hi-Res digital rendering of Carl Rauchenberger's line drawing of the theater - same process... downloadable with a password. That way, donors will be able to print it out. We will also provide a video of our digital premier showing highlights - and donors will be able to see their names listed on the screen. Plus, donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE.

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    185 backers

    Close Friend Of The Catlow: 4 free admission movie passes - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show.

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    9 backers

    Out-Of-Towner Reward: We will place your photo on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and list your name onscreen prior to show - plus your name on our donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted.

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    84 backers

    Bronze Reel Reward: 4 free admission movie passes - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show - plus name on donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    316 backers

    Dinner And A Movie Special For Four: 4 free admission movie passes - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus one Boloney’s sandwich (any choice off the Combination or Sandwich menu) for each pass - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show and on a donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    29 backers

    Soloist Reward: 1 - one-year free admission movie pass including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for your pass per each visit - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show and on a donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    27 backers Limited (573 left of 600)

    CATLOW CHAIRPERSON: This category has been added due to popular demand... Your pledge will purchase one comfortable, cushy new theater seat complete with cupholders and your name engraved on the seat-back. PLUS... 4 free admission movie passes - plus one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE for seat donors and onscreen prior to show.

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    116 backers

    Silver Reel Reward: 2 - one-year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show and on a donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    26 backers

    Golden Reel Reward: 2 - two-year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - plus the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show and on a donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    25 backers Limited (5 left of 30)

    Business/Group Package: 20 free admission movie passes including including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass - plus company/group name on a donor plaque in the lobby with price bracket noted - plus 30 seconds of pre-movie screen time with your company or group’s logo, name and address information mentioned as a company/group donor - for 1 full year once digital is installed!

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    10 backers

    Platinum Reel Reward: You will be immortalized in Catlow history - your 5”x7” framed photograph with your name labeled will be displayed in a special donor case in our lobby with price bracket noted and the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show, plus 10 - one year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    8 backers

    Titanium Reel Reward: You will be immortalized in Catlow history - your 8”x10” framed photograph with your name labeled will be displayed in a special donor case in our main lobby with price bracket noted and the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show, plus 20 - one year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    Diamond Studded Reel Reward: You will be our guest projectionist for one evening's performance while we are still running film so that you can tell all your friends about your experience before film disappears forever. We will guide you through the setup and you will actually run the feature for that evening. Plus... You will be immortalized in Catlow history - your 8”x10” framed photograph with your name labeled will be displayed in a special donor case in our main lobby with price bracket noted and the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show, plus 20 - one year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - AND, to top it all off... an invite to our digital premier showing where you will also receive a line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation!

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    2 backers

    Roberta's Reward: She came up with this reward for a business/group/club/team/or family... a completely private showing for up to 200 people - plus each person will get a free 'bottomless' drink cup and 'bottomless' popcorn cup refillable for the length of the feature film - You will be able to choose the film yourself (subject to availability). Plus... Your business/group/club/team/or family will be immortalized in Catlow history - your 8”x10” framed photograph with your group name labeled will be displayed in a special donor case in our main lobby with price bracket noted and the donor's name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE and onscreen prior to show. The date of all this will be subject to completion of our digital projection system.

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Name In Lights Reward: We will send a limo to pick up you and a guest and take you back to your home after the digital premier showing (must be within a 20 mile radius of the Catlow Theater). We will put your name up in lights on our marquee for the entire day proclaiming you as our largest donor, We will roll out a red carpet for your entrance, reserve a table for you in Boloney's where you will enjoy a dinner for 2 on us (that you will choose in advance, no waiting). Then I will personally escort you to the 2 reserved seats in the theater that you choose in advance. Your seat will be tagged with your name. And, of course... you will be immortalized in Catlow history - your 8'x10' framed photograph with your name labeled will be displayed in a special donor case in our lobby with price bracket noted- ABOVE ALL OTHERS as our TOP DONOR. Your name will be listed on the Catlow website on a special DONORS PAGE as our top donor and onscreen prior to show, plus 20 - one year free admission movie passes including one free large popcorn and large drink combo for each pass per visit - AND, this will occur for our digital premier showing where you will PICK the movie to be shown (subject to availability) - you will also receive a FRAMED line drawing of The Catlow by our partner, Carl Rauchenberger, which we personally sign thanking you for your donation! The date of all this will be subject to completion of our digital projection system.

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Funding period

- (60 days)