The Lego Movie is the first movie on our new system
This day has been a long time coming as our very small rural town has worked six years to get the Plains Theater up and running with current movies that show brilliantly for all to enjoy. Prior to the summer of 2012 we couldn't show movies at all as the theater was in terrible condition and the two carbon-arc 1947 35mm projectors needed a lot of repair work and none of the necessary parts and supplies were available to us. Theaters were using the platter system to show 35mm film so we were already a number of generations behind the movie-showing technology. No platter systems in our projection room! In the summer of 2011 we were able to get enough money to make the Plains Theater safe to enter and we fixed the walls, cleaned up the place, and got the popcorn machine running. We set up a basic classroom projector, shooting it 50+ feet onto an old screen that was stained and dusty. We would buy licensing to show DVDs when they were first released; and, thanks to the fact that many of our patrons had not seen the movie when it was in the theater, we found a niche of interest. Of course, the projection was...well, really crappy and very dark...and so, we had a fundraiser to raise funds for a better projector. We bought a nice one for $5,000 that improved the DVD programming 100%. In 2013, just last year, our movie theater got more popular as people knew we were really trying to improve things. We installed some amazing seating, updated the auditorium, added handicapped seating, added new bathrooms (the old bathrooms are a whole 'nother story), and improved our heating and electrical systems. The $5,000 projector has been used for a little over a year and the picture was bright, if not still too small. But our patrons were thrilled with the improvements.
But now! Wow! We have arrived and it is thanks to so many people who were more than generous in their contributions during our fundraising activities in December and January. We were lucky enough to be accepted into a state initiative known as Save Our Screens (SOS). This initiative came from the Colorado Economic Development Office in a response to hundreds of complaints about the new digital projection requirements that the film industry was forcing all movie theaters to convert to prior to January 1, 2014. Of course, the new systems were extremely expensive and smaller, single-screen theaters were being put out of business because of this drastic change. During that fundraiser we used the community funding concept to reach a large pool of people. We also sent out letters to many of our area businesses, corporations, and cooperatives. Finally, postcards to our school alumni paid off in a big way. We received two grants in the process that amounted to $25,000 including the Gates Foundation for $19,000, the Denver Film Society for $1,000, and the Boettcher Foundation for $5,000.
And now we have a movie theater and a performance theater that is one of the best in the state. It took a lot of patience, hard work, and perseverence but it paid off huge in the end.