Although the transition to digital projection from film is spelling doom for many small, independent cinemas, the Grandview Theatre is looking for a happy ending.
The theater is conducting a fundraising campaign to help raise the $10,000 it needs to participate in a lease-to-own program that would allow it to install a digital camera projector to replace its older projector that uses reels of film.
The new projector would include a lens, media block, video scaler and a 2,000-watt bulb.
"Just the projector alone costs $30,000, so if we had to buy the system outright, it would not be within our means," Grandview Theatre co-owner David Nedrow said.
The lease-to-own program is sponsored by the movie studios, the manufacturer of the projector and Scrabble Ventures, a company that helps theaters make the transition to digital technology.
It's designed to help small and independent theaters obtain the new equipment.
The theater needs to raise the $10,000 by the second week of June, Nedrow said.
"We thought we had a couple more months, but the program is wrapping up at the end of June," he said.
The days of 35mm film are coming to a close, Nedrow said. Studios are moving to digital distribution exclusively.
While cost-savings is part of the reason for the changeover, digital distribution also helps with anti-piracy efforts, he said.
Like the switch from silent movies to talkies and the installation of surround sound in theaters, digital distribution is another technological change that is here to stay, he said.
"The difference is that when talking movies came in or Dolby stereo, is was just a matter of adding on to your equipment," Nedrow said. "Digital distribution means you have to bring in an entirely new system."
Supporters of the Grandview Theatre can make a donation by clicking on the "digital upgrade" button at grandviewtheatre.net. Checks also can be mailed to Grandview Theatre, 1247 Grandview Ave., Columbus 43212, and moviegoers can make donations when they visit the theater.
Suggested donations range from $5 to $5,000 or more. Each donation category comes with thank-you gifts ranging from free soda and popcorn to private screenings and even the chance to choose the theater's programming for a week.
As of Tuesday, May 27, more than $5,100 had been donated.
"We've received a lot of support from the community already." Nedrow said. "We're still working on getting additional funding, but every little bit helps."
Ultimately, all movie theaters will have to convert to digital distribution to stay in business, he said.
"You won't be able to get and show films from the studios any other way," Nedrow said.
"There are already a lot of small, independent movie theaters, many of which are family-owned, who have already thrown in the towel rather than try to come up with the money they need" to convert to digital, he said.
In the short term, if the Grandview Theatre doesn't reach its $10,000 fundraising goal, Nedrow said, "we will make it work another way."