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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the guys at BHS-TV Filming Group... Jeff Doles, Peter Chung and Ryan Woodlock - and to all of our friends, patrons & employees!
- (60 days)