Theater owners get out of lease
Industry move to digital dooms local movie house
The Village Cinema in Coulee Dam is history.
Its fate was settled last Wednesday night by mutual consent of the town council and the cinema operator, Lynette Zierden and her family.
She asked for relief from her lease with the town and explained that she would make arrangements to pay off any debt owed the town of Coulee Dam.
The town council quickly OK’d the request, recognizing that it was a sign of the times.
The need to convert the theater’s present film projection equipment to digital was more than Zierden could afford.
The theater was already dark, due to a breakdown of its obsolete projector, for which parts are difficult and expensive to replace when it’s even possible.
The handwriting, already on the wall, was tested in an online effort to raise some $95,000 to help the theater make the upgrade. It fell miserably short, coming up with pledges for $2,680 of that. The low-ball cost of conversion was in the $65,000 range.
In Zierden’s letter to the town, she stated: “The series of incidents have led us to the place where we can no longer run the theater with the equipment we have, both due to its failure and even if repaired, the industry move to digital equipment will leave us without new 35mm print films to show.”
She also stated in her letter: “With everything we needed, in addition to the projector, which included a new compatible screen and sound system, we looked for a way to get the project rolling. It seemed the best option to raise all the funds needed was an all or nothing shot. We attempted the process and fell miserably short and only had commitments for less than 2% of the overall need.”
The theater was purchased over a year ago by Carole Fisher in the hopes of making it a family business and expanding its activity beyond just movies to hosting community events. Fisher died a few months ago after a bout with cancer and her daughter, Lynette, took over running the business.
Many other small movie theaters across the country face the same dilemma.