The Palace Theater in Spooner needs help going digital - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

The Palace Theater in Spooner needs help going digital


Spooner (WQOW) - A local theater is hoping to keep it's "Now Showing" sign lit by replacing old technology with new items thanks to the Internet. The Palace Theater in Spooner opened back in 1939, and they've been using 35 millimeter film since the first show. But that technology is being phased out by film companies. That has the manager looking to the power of the Internet to keep things up and running.

"Its labor intensive, but it's a labor of love," said JoEllen Weathers, Palace Theater Manager.

At The Palace Theater in Spooner, it takes a little extra work to keep the silver screen shining.

"What I do is thread it from this platter all the way over to the projector, and then back again up on to this platter. So this is the bulk of the movie, and there's about 20 minutes left, so here's twenty minutes of film," Weathers said.

But reels will soon be a part of history, because like any other business, cost is always a concern.

"They save a lot of money by not having to make film. Each print costs $2,000 to the film companies, and The Hobbit I think was released in over 4,000 screens. And when they decide it's no longer cost effective for them, they'll just stop making film. And we right now can only show 35 millimeters, so we'll have to close," Weathers explained.

it's a sad situation that Spooner residents hope to avoid.

"I think a movie theatre is just one of those important things for a small town to have. You know, like a bowling alley, and restaurants, and a library. Especially things that provide activities for people of all ages," said Carol Dunn, Spooner City Councilperson.

And its not just people that live on Spooner's streets that would be affected; out of town visitors may also be left in the dark.

"All of our lake people who come for the summer; that includes my parents and family. So when they're here at the lake, the first thing they want to know, "What's the movie this week?" to see if it's something they've seen or not. They love to come to this theatre," said Dunn.

To keep up with the times, The Palace Theater needs $60,000 to buy things like a new digital projector and a server to download films. To do that, the manager has set up a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the money.

"It is all or nothing, so if we raise $59,000 and we don't make the money in 60 days, then everyone just gets their money back. It's no harm, no foul," said Weathers.

By helping the theater get new equipment, you may end up owning a piece of the old operation.

"I've been able to set up a group of ten or so reward levels. So if you donate to me, I can give back to you," added Weathers.

We mentioned you could own a piece of the old technology. That's because donations of $15 or more will get you a one inch frame of the old 35 millimeter film. To see the Kickstarter website for The Palace Theater, click here.

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