Lebanon, Ore. -- If you're headed to the movies this weekend, the film you'll watch is not really a film, but a digital file. It's pretty much the industry standard now.
For the few small town single-screeners left, it means their days of projecting real film are numbered.
The Kuhn in Lebanon, Ore. is one of those theaters.
Richard Pitts, who owns the Kuhn, got Friday night’s 35 mm film at the theater ready to roll. The feature was "Oblivion,” which could be an omen for what happens to this single screen theater that first opened in 1936.
“This is '60s maybe '70s. This base was here since the building was built,” Pitts said. “The film industry has decided to do away with 35 mm film, which is what we run.”
The projection room is much like Jurassic Park, a dinosaur in today's movie industry.
Owners Richard and Darla Pitts thought they had more time before they'd have to buy a digital projector, but the end of summer is the deadline.
“We're either digital by then or get whatever we can get and eventually close,” Pitts said.
The Pitts bought the theater in 2004. Along with the building’s owner they put in $150,000 to bring it back to life after sitting empty for ten year. Their budget included the 35 mm projector.
They need a new digital projector, which costs $35,000. An online Kickstarter fundraiser is now their hope.
Lebanon without the theater is unacceptable for Sara Steeves, a cheerleader in Lebanon. She said if the Kuhn closes, it will have a ripple effect through town.
“If they close, then we have to go to Albany see a movie. Then we go to Albany to shop. We eat all of those resources and those funds go filtering into Albany’s economy. It will affect every business down here,” she said.
For the Pitts, the theater has been a gift back to the community. Now they're hoping anyone who loves a good film, 35 mm or digital, will help them with many more coming attractions.
“We're just hoping everyone is waiting to see if everybody will throw money at the end--keep us open,” Pitts said.
So far the Kuhn Kickstarter has raised $11,000. They have just 15 days left to find pledges for the rest.
If you'd like to help, visit their Kickstarter page here.