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Save Our Screens
A rural theaters digital-conversion assistance initiative of Downtown Colorado, Inc.
Working to save small movie theaters in rural Colorado as they face the economic burden of an industry-mandated conversion to digital projection
As the film industry has made a full transition from print film to digital projection in the past couple of years and 35mm film is quickly becoming obsolete, movie theaters across the nation have been forced to come up with the cost of conversion or risk shutting their doors. This places a significant financial burden for small, independent theaters that need expensive upgrades.

The Save Our Screens initiative was formed out of a relationship between Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) and movie theater owners across the state. It is a product of mutual intent to see these local businesses continue operating as important cultural pillars of their communities.
Save Our Screens Background and Progress

In late 2012, DCI was alerted to the challenge facing many small town and independently owned theaters of converting to a new digital format technology. While the conversion makes distribution more cost-effective for studios, initial upfront costs for local theaters can be prohibitive. Typical investments to convert one auditorium can range from $60,000 to over $120,000, depending on projection and sound needs, installation costs, and other upgrades to support the new technology. 

After undertaking initial surveys of theaters across the state to determine status and level of need, DCI has worked with state agency and private foundation partners to provide funding and technical assistance to independent theaters that are looking to convert to digital systems.
The theaters couldn't keep running without your help, though! A vital aspect of the SOS initiative has been a crowdfunding campaign where cinema-lovers were able to contribute to keeping the doors to their local theaters open. SOS launched their Community Funded project page in late November 2013 to help theaters meet their fundraising goals and upgrade to digital projectors.
See our informational report to learn about the most recent updates to the SOS initiative.
What's Next?
As of now, eleven theaters across the state of Colorado have completed the conversion to digital systems with the help of the Save Our Screens program, taking advantage of funding from our partners and coordinating support from DCI. The next step is development of a large information sharing network among independently owned small, rural movie theaters and cultural facilities across Colorado. DCI is currently collecting stories of theaters that have converted to identify best practices. If you are a theater owner/operator or would like to get the word out about the theater in your town please contact DCI, we would love to include your theater's story in our case studies!
Supporting Your Local Theater
  • Ask your local theater about it's conversion efforts and if it is running a crowdfunding campaign
  • Share the message of Save Our Screens with your friends and family
  • Follow our campaign on Facebook and engage with a community of theater lovers!


Thanks for your support!


Paradise (Nearly) Lost: Movie Theater Gains New Life, Unites Kids in Fighting Bullying 

In 2013, it looked like the Paradise Theater in Paonia (population 1,430) would close. But, Paonia residents recognized the value this gathering place brought to their community, so they rallied to save it. They connected with DCI, who had contacted state-wide partner organizations to identify funding and resources as for all small, independent theaters across Colorado who were on the brink of closure due to the high costs of digital projector conversion.

The Paradise Theater qualified for a grant, but needed to raise matching funds. Again, with DCI's support, they started a crowdfunding campaign. In 45 days, they raised $97,000. The Friends of the Paradise Theater was founded, a digital projector purchased, building upgrades made, and they were even able to purchase the building from the out-of-town property owner.

Flash forward nine months later...a Heart and Soul project united middle and high school students, who spent months working to create and produce a multimedia production exploring the stereotypes and bullying they encounter daily. Just last weekend Hippies and Rednecks Unite debuted at the Paradise Theater to a sold-out crowd. It was so successful they will now have an encore production.

"We never could have done that project without having the theater and projector," said Elaine Brett, president, Friends of the Paradise Theater. "And what it has done for the other economic factors in town is huge...the streets are full on Saturday night, restaurants are busy, art galleries are busy. It's now very vibrant here."

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