A drive to raise $95,000 to replace Village Cinema’s projection equipment with new digital technology has failed, and the theater’s owners hope to end their lease early, unable to continue with a broken, obsolete projector.
A report on Kickstarter, an online fund raising site, reported at the end of the drive, May 4, that only $2,688 had been pledged, less than 2 percent of what was needed to make a transition to digital equipment required by new industry standards next year.
Owner Lynette Zierden said they just made the last payment to the prior owner for the business, but other bills connected with it continue on. She and Don Redfield are paying off debts from their own salaries. She works for tribal police, where he is an officer.
Redfield had spurred the Kickstarter drive, which stated that if Village Cinema didn’t change to digital then it would be out of business at the end of the year. That’s when Hollywood and other movie centers would cease to ship movies on film and go to a digital format.
The new system requires movie theaters to purchase digital projectors at a high price tag. This could drive small town theaters out of business.
The theater was purchased in January last year by Carole Fisher, Zierden’s mother, who since died of cancer.
“Unfortunately, it was just one bad thing after another,” Zierden said.
The theater, besides showing movies, also hosted school and community events for free, including a recent junior beauty pageant.
When the old projector quit working about a month ago, Zierden ordered a “new” $400 light bulb for it that turned out to be the last one on the shelf, with no more being made. And that wasn’t the whole problem for the projector, which still doesn’t work.
In the meantime movie bills still have to be paid, as does the soft drink distributor, advertising bills and rent.
“If we continue to go on a hope and prayer,” Zierden said, “the bills are still piling up.”
Zierden said she and Redfield wrote a letter Monday asking to end their lease before its expiration at the end of this year.
The theater property is owned by the town of Coulee Dam and also houses the Melody Restaurant and the Riverview Lanes bowling alley.
Donors responding to the online drive included one person who pledged $2,000. A total of 19 people pledged donations.