A theater is born
Peterborough’s first and only movie theater opened September 26, 1914 as the Gem Theater and was built by local residents Charles, Warren, and Lester Nichols. The theater had a seating capacity of 500; admission was five cents for children, ten cents for adults, and balcony seats were fifteen cents. In the early years, both movies and stage productions were regularly featured at the Gem.
The theater has undergone a number of updates and renovations, including in 1945 when it nearly burnt to the ground. In 1977, when a stage was added, not surprisingly many artists from the Folkway also performed at the Peterborough Community Theater, including Odetta, Tom Rush, Jonathan Edwards, and Merle and Doc Watson. For those of you not familiar with the Folkway, it was a legendary coffeehouse just down the street from the theater, and was the stomping ground for many folk artists between 1975 and 1996.
In 1984, the building was reconfigured into a 95-seat theater with an appropriately named restaurant next door called Hollywood Cafe.
Today, Roy and Judy Mills of Hancock, NH own the theater and have helped to make it one of the areas most successful independent theaters; one that charges low admission and concession prices, making it an affordable and enjoyable entertainment experience for everyone.
In addition to featuring first-run movies, the theater is often used by community groups to hold special meetings, by families for birthday parties, and as a fundraising venue for local school groups. Roy and Judy do not charge non-profit organizations to use the facility, as they strongly believe in supporting local charitable efforts.
Local landmark to go digital or go dark
FACT #1—Movie studios are reducing their production and distribution costs by eliminating the use of 35mm film. All U.S. theaters are being forced to upgrade to a new digital format, or close their doors for good.
FACT #2—The cost for the Peterborough Community Theater to convert to digital is $60,000! Roy and Judy intend to stay in business and benefit from the improvements that digital offers, however, they can’t do it alone.
FACT #3—The benefits of digital include:
· No damaged, scratched, or distorted films
· Brighter, crisper images, and higher quality sound
· A wider selection and the ability to show a variety of movies during the week rather than just one
FACT #4—The Peterborough Community Theater is so much more than a movie house! Numerous groups in the area use the facility for meetings and fundraisers, and over 40 birthday parties are held every year. And because the theater is handicap accessible, several local rehabilitation programs bring their residents so they, too, can enjoy the movies.
What if the project doesn't get fully funded?
Since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing venue, even if we fall $1 short of goal, backers will not be charged for their pledge and the Peterborough Community Theater will only be able to show 35mm film, which will be completely unavailable by the end of 2013. The closing of this treasured landmark would be a devastating blow to the entire Peterborough region, especially the vibrant downtown Depot Square area.
Risks and challenges
In a project of this size and scope, there are certainly risks and challenges we face, including an inability to reach our goal. Since kickstarter.com is an all or nothing venue, we must present you - our backers - with strong, valid reasons to help keep this community-spirited landmark alive, or we run the risk of falling short of our goal. One of the challenges we face is launching the project right after the holidays, however, the longer we wait, the less options there are for 35mm movies.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)