Who We Are & What We've Been Doing
Once upon a time, way back in July of 2010, a small group of longtime Bijou employees (that's us) pooled our life savings and rescued this beloved historic theater from imminent bankruptcy. After some very aggressive budget management and a whole lot of elbow grease, we managed to make the theater solvent for the first time in over five years. Since then, we've re-invested every penny earned back into the business. If you've been to the Bijou in the last couple of years, you've probably noticed some of the improvements we've made-- we added a new gas furnace in auditorium 1 to keep you warm in the winter, upgraded and EQ'd the theater's sound systems for improved dialogue clarity, remodeled the lobby to accommodate a more social moviegoing experience, added locally-sourced sandwiches, baked goods, and beer & wine to our concessions menu, repainted and re-carpeted, upgraded our film projection systems, streamlined our point of sale systems, completely remodeled the sorta-scary bathrooms, created space for local artists to showcase their work, installed new custom theater lighting, re-faced the marquee, hung new curtains, built new sales counters, overhauled the confusing 90s-era website, and the list goes on…. but there's still more to be done and we need your help to reach the finish line.
Changing Tides in the Cinema Industry
While we have seen renewed interest in moviegoing in our community over the last two years, our assessment of the current state of the industry has led us to believe that diversification of offerings is a necessity, meaning that we need the ability to bring more movies to Eugene in order cater to several diverse audiences with different tastes and cultural sensibilities.
We're already well on our way to making this a reality.
As you may have already heard, we are preparing to open a second location downtown called The Bijou Metro, featuring four more screens of foreign, independent and classic cinema. This will not only allow us to bring a wider range of niche-market films to Eugene, but also expand our mission to include educational and participatory screenings with guest experts and filmmakers, ongoing archival 35mm film screenings of classic cinema as well as genre late-nite fare, and a variety of other rare and unique options for cinemaphiles never before available in our area.
We expect to open our doors at the Bijou Metro at the end of May. However, while we've been able to manage most of the costs of our remodel projects and this expansion up to this point-- largely thanks to generous support from our landlord, partners in our community and financing from the Downtown Renewal Initiative-- one major obstacle still stands in the way of the long-term success of both the Bijou Art Cinemas and the Bijou Metro, and that obstacle is DCI.
DCI, which stands for Digital Cinema Initiative, is a set of standards and specifications agreed upon by the biggest distributors and theater chains, that will ensure quality and compatibility of theatrical projection systems through the cinema industry's massive transition from 35mm film to digital cinema. Digital Cinema doesn't mean theaters are going to show Blu-Rays or DVDs, it means we are going to show something called a DCP, or Digital Cinema Package, which is an encrypted set of files that can only be played back on DCI-compliant projection systems. Unfortunately, these systems require a minimum investment of nearly $40,000 per screen.
Most multiplexes and other mainstream cinemas have already converted, with financial support from big lenders and movie distributors, but smaller, independently-owned theaters like ours have been left to raise their own conversion funds. It has been projected by the National Association of Theater Owners that 20% of cinemas in North America-- that's 10,000 screens-- will close as a result of the Digital Cinema Initiative. 35mm film prints for current releases will most likely cease to be struck later this year, so the options are clear: convert, or lose the ability to play new movies from major distributors.
Just to be clear, all of you die-hard fans of celluloid will be happy to know that unlike most cinemas, we aren't scrapping our 35mm projectors in favor of digital technology. In fact, we are installing a new 35mm film system at the Bijou Metro that will meet standards for presentation of archival film prints. New releases may be all-digital, but we plan to program several ongoing series of classic films shown on 35mm film, as their creators intended for them to be seen.
Anyway, back to digital cinema....
What We Are Purchasing
We have been able to secure financing to cover most of our conversion costs, but we need your help to complete the process. We've set our goal at $38,713.00, which is exactly what we need to cover the cost of one DCI-compliant projector from Christie Digital Systems, installation, freight, and Kickstarter service fees.
However, we have some stretch goals in mind that include new screens and masking (another $15,500), and new seats--yes, rocker backs with cupholders-- (another $41,000) for both auditoriums at the Bijou Art Cinemas.
To make it worth your while, we've put together some awesome rewards packages, which you can learn about below.
About the Rewards
The first-ever Bijou Memberships are available starting now, ONLY through this Kickstarter campaign. We are offering top-tier memberships to backers above the $250 mark.
The Carte Noir Membership (normally $300) - For the truly devoted cinemaphile, this card entitles its holder to an entire year of free movies at both Bijou locations, a free regular popcorn and fountain soda every visit, discounts at dozens of local businesses, and invitations to quarterly Members-Only events. What are these members only events, you ask? Advance Screenings, Secret Screenings, Costume Parties, Cocktail Parties, Potlucks, Director Meet-and-Greets, maybe even Dinner & a Movie Under the Stars! But perhaps most importantly, our first Members-Only event will be our exclusive soft opening at the Bijou Metro this May.
The Carte Blanche Membership (normally $1000) - For all you high-rollers out there, this card entitles its holder and a guest to an entire year of free movies at both Bijou locations, bottomless popcorn and fountain soda every visit, discounts at dozens of local businesses, a private screening of any film in our regular program, access to a private reservation hotline, and invitations (+1) to quarterly Members-Only events including our exclusive soft opening at the Bijou Metro.
We realize Memberships aren't the perfect fit for every moviegoer, so we've put together all kinds of other goodies for the rest of you. Every dollar counts, and we've tried to make valuable rewards at every level to show our gratitude for whatever size pledge you can manage. More than anything, we just want you to come down and enjoy a film in our theaters!
And here's a pic of our stylin' Bijou T-Shirts and Hoodies! T-shirts come in Silver, Asphalt and Navy, and Hoodies come in Asphalt and Navy. Not all colors are available in all sizes, so if you're particular about color shoot us an email and we can make sure we have something you like!
Risks and challenges
Delivery dates and installation timelines are always subject to change, but we are confident that construction at the Bijou Metro will be completed in time for its tentatively scheduled Members-Only soft opening on May 24th, 2013.
Converting the projection systems at the Bijou Art Cinemas will be a bit trickier, as it may entail closing each auditorium for a few days in order to get everything installed, aligned, EQ'd and QC'd properly. Regardless, we are ready to move forward as soon as funding is in place and we can make a gap in our schedule.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)