The film industry announced recently that it would no longer make film copies of its movies and will only be providing digital versions, forcing theaters across the U.S. to retire their old 35mm projectors and go digital. This switch is expensive as digital projectors cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Some small theaters would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the conversion.
Small towns developed their theaters back when everyone went to the movies all the time; many theaters in operation today could never be built with today’s costs and the slowing pace of theater goers. And for all of Hollywood’s so-called love for small towns and the dreams that grew out of the thousands of theaters as films unreeled, there’s been an abysmal deafening silence on their impending doom.
Most big theaters have already made the switch, but experts estimate that 20 percent of all theaters in the U.S., most of them small, independently owned and in rural areas, will be forced to close because operators cannot afford the changes. Over half the movie theaters on military bases will close because the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which operates on-base movie theaters, cannot afford to convert.
It is disheartening to think that so many small theaters in rural towns across the U.S. will be forced to close simple because they won’t be able to get movies that will work on their old equipment. This means that a way of life for many will be over. No more Saturday night movie dates at the local theater. Residents of these small American towns will either have to drive a greater distance to go to the movies or forego their Cinema Therapy experience altogether.