A community-based effort to help keep Eatonville’s only movie theater in business is continuing, with new hope of reaching its fund-raising goal.
When the drive started last fall, the goal was $70,000 to help the theater’s owners buy equipment to show digital films, a requirement being forced on older theaters like the Roxy by movie distributors. Without the upgrade, the Roxy likely will close.
The cost of the conversion has come down about $10,000, according to Karen Woodcock, a leader of Support the Roxy, the group soliciting donations. About $15,000 has been raised, and if another $15,000 to $20,000 is collected, theater owners Mike Wood and Dean Wadell have indicated “they can come up with the rest,” Woodcock said.
Wood and Wadell have said that Hollywood’s conversion to all-digital cinema could drive small, independent theaters like theirs out of business because of the cost of switching from reel projection systems.
“The key” to keeping that from happening in Eatonville is to continue “to get the word out,” Woodcock said. She noted people often are unaware of efforts that have been made so far to publicize the Roxy’s situation.
“If everyone in Eatonville and the surrounding area gave $10 or $15, that’s all it would take,” she said.
If the fund-raising falls short, Wood and Wadell have agreed to return large contributions and give the remaining money to local charities.
According to Wood, when the switch to all-digital films happens, which is expected as soon as the first quarter of 2013, movie distributors will lose 30 percent of theater screens nationally, most of them single-screen theaters like the Roxy that can’t afford to change.
The advent of digital films isn’t the only obstacle in the Roxy’s future. Business has declined over the years as customers turned to rentals and other sources of movie entertainment at home or drove to multiplexes in other towns.
Eatonville has had a movie theater virtually non-stop since the Roxy opened in 1942.
In addition to Woodcock, an Eatonville business owner, members of Support the Roxy include Bob Fincham, Shari Schaub, Betty Zenkner, Mike Schaub, Diane Fincham, Dawn Lakey, Diane Wisley, and Gary and Karen Carlson.