The Times
  • Go Digital or Go Dark: Valley Cinema seeks to raise $80,000 by end of the year

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  • Valley Cinema owner Chris Anderson said he wasn’t sure what to expect for last Saturday’s “Go Digital or Go Dark” fundraiser.
    Anderson said, however, when he saw the “outpouring of people coming to the benefit,” he was assured.
    “The support was uplifting,” he said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “[It was] not knowing how the public would respond to a business doing a fundraiser. I think the public realizes the small guy can’t really afford to stay in business on his own.”
    Small community theaters such as Valley Cinema, at 20 Albany St., Little Falls, are being forced to convert to digital films, over 35 mm film, at the behest of movie studios.
    The change, however, is expensive.
    Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer for the National Association of Theatre Owners, said the cost to convert to digital on average is about $70,000 per screen, which covers costs from the projector to ventilation and air conditioning to maintain the equipment.
    Anderson said they hope to raise at least $80,000 to purchase the two projectors.
    He said he also hopes to make some renovations to the seating, concession, sound and building for a total between $120,000 and $140,000.
    “All the little guys are in the same predicament. They can’t afford to take it out of pocket,” said Anderson.
    Saturday’s event at the Knights Inn had about 300 to 400 people in attendance and included food, music and a Chinese auction, which included about 100 items. The event helped raise about $11,000. Anderson said he hopes to have raised $20,000 by the end of his first round of fund raising.
    Other phases for the campaign include a gala planned for sometime n December, which would include drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Anderson said he doesn’t have the details confirmed yet for that event, but said he hopes to raise about $15,000.
    The theater is also offering 200 family movie passes for $175 starting in November. Anderson said those who already have family passes into 2014 will have theirs extended if they purchase this pass. The family pass allows for unlimited access to movies at the theater throughout the year for a mother, father and their children. Anderson said this should bring in about $35,000.
    Besides the fundraisers, Anderson said he hopes to receive approval for an Empire State and Industrial Development Agency grant in November for the digital projection conversion. He said if this all works out, he hopes to be converted to digital by the end of the year.
    “It’ll no longer be available by the end of the year. We’re at the end of the rope. We really need the public to come together and be supportive of us,” he said. “Time is of the essence.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Anderson said the theater has been owned and operated by his family for 34 years, with his being at the head for 18 years.
    “I dedicated my life to the theater. This is something I do,” he said. “I do a lot with the schools, churches and community. It would be at travesty to lose the theater.”
    GateHouse New York contributed to this article
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