The digital age of film is here. Like most movie theatre owners, we bought this theatre for our love of great films, and to provide a valuable spot for people in the community to come together, not as simply a business to run. This passion is what has kept the theatre running for the last several years. The studios are ceasing the production of 35mm film, phasing it out entirely by the end of 2013. Already, it is becoming harder and harder to get our hands on a 35mm print to play. As a small movie theatre in a small town, it is hard enough to lobby the distributors to rent us films, but now that they are producing fewer 35mm films, we are more behind the eight ball than ever. The large theatres in the country have already converted to digital projection, but the small ones like us, can't incur the expense of conversion, so many are turning to Kickstarter and other sources to fund this huge cash outlay. Besides, we have been stapling, taping, gluing and tying our ancient and obsolete equipment together with string to keep the projectors whirring upstairs. Repairing them is next to impossible at this point. The jig is up. Village Picture Shows MUST convert to digital, or go out of business.
The cost of this conversion is astronomical for a such a small business. Many theatres have found the cost of going digital is more than their entire theatre/business is actually worth. Given that, and the little if no profits a small theatre can make, getting a loan is out of the question. This is why Village Picture Shows, like loads of other small town theatres, is turning to the community and its customers from out of town who understand the importance of Manchester keeping a movie theatre.
Ready for the good news? Here it is! This is a ONE TIME project. Once the projectors, lamp houses, sound, computers, etc. to run it all are installed, the theatre should be good to go and on its feet until Hollywood decides to throw us their next big idea! Since it took over 100 years for them to come up with digital movies, we aren't that worried :) AND with this new system, we should have a much easier time convincing the distributors to give this little town the films we want. PLUS, we will be able to bring alternative programming to the community. Wanna watch a big sporting event live on a big screen with fresh popcorn? DONE! How about a ballet performance? DONE! An opera? DONE! We will have the opportunity to be far more creative with what we bring you! Did we mention the INCREDIBLE picture quality and sound? No more crackling sound, "melting" pictures, broken film, frustrating stops and starts...nope...all will be a thing of the past (thank goodness!).
Reaching our goal is important. We chose Kickstarter to fund this project because the funds are only released if the target goal is achieved. In other words, it's all or nothing, which is the position the theatre is in right now. Any funds pledged over the target amount will be put directly into improving the theatre for the public...every penny! We have every intention of painting, cleaning the seats, replacing the flooring, removing all gum, goo and spittle, etc.. If we achieve the target amount, this will be done with our own elbow grease, our employees working for free, any volunteers that will help and within a two to three week period after the funds are released.
Risks and challenges
The only risk is not raising enough to complete the project. But if we do, we have operated the theatre for ten years, so we are definitely qualified to handle the upgrade! The company we plan on using to install the equipment is based out of Albany and the system has a very reputable name - been bringing the world movies for decades! So the only risk would be to have to close the theatre for lack of funding.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Small independent movie theatres all over the country make very little if no profit. Part of this is due to the shift is the way many people want to watch movies, but largely it's because the distributors demand more and more money for film rental, and find every way they can to pass their expenses off to the theatres. The very large chains can absorb these costs (though not all of them) and they make enough profit to make further capital investments in their businesses. The small guys have been existing by cutting every corner they can...some can't make ends meet, so they simply close, but almost none of them can afford a six-figure bill just for new projectors, especially when the old ones are still running! Because the distributors have changed the way (after over 100 years!) they will deliver films to theatres they will save them hundreds of millions of dollars. They offered deals and incentives that were feasible for the larger theatres, but untenable for the smaller ones, effectively leaving the smalls ones out in the cold. No digital projectors, no more movies. Too bad. They don't care if we close. Truly, they don't care because the rent checks we send them are so small. Your pledge to this project is for a capital improvement that is needed to keep the doors open on this business, NOT to use for operating expenses! Leave the worry of the operating expense to us. Small theatres all over the country are fighting back and using crowd funding to secure the equipment needed to simply stay open. Many are succeeding. We hope we are one of them! If the community thinks we are important enough to stay open, then so do we!
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