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Local Motion: Rural Movie Theaters Facing Costly Upgrades to Stay Open

For this episode of Local Motion, we take a look at the plight of rural movie theaters in Colorado. 

The film industry has by and large mandated that starting this year, first-run movies (the blockbusters like "Frozen") will only be distributed digitally. The 35 mm films of old are on their way out and digital films are on their way in. 

Which is no big deal for large chain theaters, but it's a whole different story for small, mom-and-pop-style theaters, especially in rural areas. Digital projectors aren't cheap - they can run anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000, and that doesn't necessarily include new sound systems, screens or other equipment that might also be needed for the upgrade. 

The Paradise Theatre in Paonia is one those small-town theaters making the conversion to digital. We talked with the theater's manager Amy de Luca for an update on how that process is going, and what challenges still remain. 

For a statewide perspective on the issue, we also spoke with Katherine Correll, the executive director for Downtown Colorado, INC. That group has put together a "Save Our Screens" campaign to help rural theaters in Colorado survive and thrive through the digital transition.

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