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A 99 year old movie theater, in historic Peterborough, NH, must upgrade to digital from 35 mm film so it can remain open.
A 99 year old movie theater, in historic Peterborough, NH, must upgrade to digital from 35 mm film so it can remain open.
538 backers pledged $54,316 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$54,316

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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.

Roy Mills, Owner
Roy Mills, Owner

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.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Special web recognition on the Peterborough Community Theater (PCT) donors page.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    "I'm helping to save the Peterborough Community Theater" window decal and button, in addition to web recognition on the special Peterborough Community Theater (PCT) donors page, and 2 free drinks and 2 small popcorn

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 2 free admission passes.

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    105 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 4 free admission passes; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; and "I helped save the PCT" car magnet. For those backers not located in the Monadnock region, but who would like to help save the PCT, you will be thanked on the PCT donors page and 2 free admission passes and 2 small popcorn will be donated to the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter (MATS) in your name. MATS provides temporary, safe housing and helps residents return to a life of self-sufficiency.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 2 free drinks and 2 large popcorn; 6 free admission passes; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; "I Helped Save the PCT" car magnet; a piece of 35mm film to serve as a memento of a vanishing era in entertainment.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 3 free drinks and 3 large popcorn; 8 free admission passes; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; "I Helped Save the PCT" car magnet; a piece of 35mm film to serve as a memento of a vanishing era in entertainment.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 5 free drinks and 5 large popcorn; 12 free admission passes; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; "I Helped Save the PCT" car magnet; a piece of 35mm film to serve as a memento of a vanishing era in entertainment; you will be thanked on screen before shows for 6 months.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 10 free drinks and 10 large popcorn; one year VIP pass for you and a guest; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; "I Helped Save the PCT" car magnet; a piece of 35mm film to serve as a memento of a vanishing era in entertainment; you will be thanked on screen before shows for 6 months; on-screen advertising for one month for your business or a personal greeting; a special gift from a local Peterborough business; personalized mini magnet "thank you" plaque.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Everything at the $25 level, plus 20 free drinks and 20 large popcorn; one lifetime VIP pass for you and a guest; listing in the "Thank You" advertisement after the goal is reached; two "I Helped Save the PCT" car magnets; a piece of 35mm film to serve as a memento of a vanishing era in entertainment; you will be thanked on screen before shows for 6 months; on-screen advertising for one month for your business or a personal greeting; a special gift from a local Peterborough business; one free movie party for you and up to 40 of your closest friends; access to the projection room to help launch the first digital movie to be shown at PCT; your name will be engraved on our "Friends of Peterborough Community Theater" plaque to be proudly displayed in the lobby; personalized mini magnet "thank you" plaque to match the plaque displayed in the lobby.

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Funding period

- (30 days)