By TIMILEE WILBER
LYMAN – Moviemaking is changing from the 35mm format to digital, but at a huge cost, especially to small independently owned theatres across the United States. And time is running out for them to convert to digital.
Valley Theatre in Lyman was built in 1940. It was built after a prior playhouse theatre burned down. It has been in operation at the present location serving the communities of Bridger Valley for 73-years.
Russ and Andrea Rollins purchased the theatre 15 years ago in 1998, because at that time it had been closed for the summer, and “we thought we needed a theatre here.”
“When we reopened the 320-seat theatre, movies were only playing Fridays, Saturday and Mondays as was done previously,” according to Andrea.
She stated, “We felt strongly that our community would be best served with more showings. And since then have built up the business to be open six days a week.”
Valley Theatre in Lyman recently was given a bid of $100,000 to purchase and have installed a digital projector and sound system.
“They’ve been saying digital was coming for awhile,” Andrea said, “I believe they are trying to make us convert.”
Rollins stated she recently read a news article that said the last movie be filmed in the 35mm format will be in April or May of this year.
She contacted the Wyoming Business Council in the hope that she would be able to obtain a grant to partially pay for the digital equipment. She was disappointed to find that to apply for grants through the council requires grant recipients must prove that they will employ at least two full time employees.
She also contacted a venture capital group, and found that they will loan up 40 percent of the required funds up to $100,000. This would require that theatre owners have $60,000 on hand.
Walter Shaw an actor, filmmaker and a spokesperson for Save America’s Cinemas, called Rollins recently after she sent a letter to the organization requesting their help. He told her, “We’re going to save as many theatres as we can.”
According to the their website, Save America’s Cinemas is a 501 (c)3 non-profit fundraising group solely dedicated to providing the financial assistance required to acquire the necessary digital equipment needed for the approximately 3,000 small town cinemas and theatres in America.
Andrea, is also considering holding some fundraisers to raise the funds she will need to make the switch.For the complete article see the 03-01-2013 issue.
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