CARBONDALE - The owners of the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale are hoping that good will among their patrons and supporters will help them raise the $70,000 they need to convert the old moviehouse from film to digital projectors.
"In order to continue to provide our patrons the high quality, low cost, commercial-free entertainment that they have come to expect from the Crystal Theatre, we are asking for support to help us convert from 35mm film to digital cinema projection," said Crystal Theatre owners Kathy and Bob Ezra in a statement.
"The cost is formidable," the statement continued, adding that "many small theaters such as the Crystal have gone straight to their customers to ask for help."
Although the statement did not include the names or whereabouts of theaters that have resorted to public fundraising campaigns, Bob Ezra is quoted as saying, "To our surprise, many supporters have already asked how they can help. The idea of this fundraising campaign grew, in part, from this feedback."
The move is part of a nationwide switchover, and apparently is happening more quickly than expected by some theater owners.
"We thought we had another year, year-and-a-half to go to get ready," said Jeff Mexico, owner of the vintage Fox Theater in Salem, Oregon, in an article in the April 5 edition of the Statesman-Journal newspaper.
Sonja Davis, manager of the West Glenwood Mall and of the Movies At The Mall theater, told the Post Independent last September, "We're being told it's a couple of years out."
Ezra told the Post Independent last year that he already had begun working on different potential angles for keeping the conversion as painless and easy as possible.
In the statement, Kathy Ezra is quoted as saying, "We're asking for your help because there's no choice of whether-or-not to convert. The reality is, 'go digital or go dark.'"
The goal of the campaign is to raise the money by May 31, according to the statement.
Calls to the Ezra home seeking comment for this article were not returned on Thursday, but the statement indicated that the fundraising campaign will coincide with weekly drawings for a 10-punch pass to the theater.
Donors also will be listed on a "Wall of Fame" in the theater lobby, and in an on-screen announcement once the digital equipment is up and running.
Other gifts to donors will include one-second's worth of 35mm film (about 25 to 30 frames) and entry in a special "End of Film" drawing, prizes from which are to include an original Crystal Theater seat, dinner and movie packages and "your name in lights on the side marquee."
Donations of $5,000 or more entitles a donor to a lifetime theater pass for two.
"No one knows exactly when the end of film will come, but the signs are that it will be sooner rather than later," the theater's website says. "Already we are experiencing longer waits for the fewer 35mm prints available, and some product that we were interested in, such as 'Chasing Ice' and 'Girl Rising,' is only available in digital formats. In a time of economic uncertainty and increased competition, we are hoping to re-kindle the community spirit that has allowed us to thrive, survive and keep movies alive."