A Tale Of Two Theaters
The push for digital conversion is happening fast. For some it’s the best of times–for others, its the worst of times. Presenting feature films in a digital format is becoming the standard. Here in Oskaloosa, the Penn Centre Theater has already made the move. Two new digital projectors, one that does 3D, a new silver screen, and upgraded sound systems in both theaters.
“This is a pretty big step here for Oskaloosa,” says Penn Centre Theater Manager Jarred Stevens.
The transition cost the theater around 140-thousand dollars, a steep, but necessary expense if it wants to stay in business.
“Within two years 35 will pretty much be obsolete.”
35 millimeter film has been the industry standard for 80 years. Now it’s being phased out in favor of the digital format. But in New Sharon, at the historic Capri theater, 35 millimeter is the only format they can use and Capri Restoration Board President Mark Watts says that’s a problem.
“The number of 35 millimeter prints that are being offered out there is really dropping, so we’re having a hard time getting those shows to come here.”
The Capri has been a fixture in New Sharon since the 1940’s and isn’t like the popular multiplexes we see today. Tickets are cheap–only three bucks a piece. Movies play on a very old projector and every weekend, it’s run mostly by volunteers.
“If it was a for pay situation, we just couldn’t do and so we’re trying to keep costs low and the volunteers are an integral part of what we’re doing,” says Watts.
But with this push from the film industry to go digital, the Capri is concerned about costs more than ever. To make the transition, it will need about seventy-thousand dollars.
“It is an expensive thing and so we’ve talked about and we’ve started some fundraising and we’re going to continue to fundraise.”
The life of 35 millimeter film is fading fast, and there is no set deadline for when theaters will have to go digital. But Watts is confident the Capri has enough support to make the switch.
“We think that the New Sharon community and the communities around us that support us every week are going to step up and they’re going to help us get to where we need to be to keep this place going.”
So in this tale of two theaters, is digital conversion a far, far better thing that they do? Perhaps, but it’s certainly more costly than anything they’ve ever known. The Penn Centre theater is able to show new films the same weekend they are released nationwide. The Capri shows current films too…but a week or two after their national release.