PETERBOROUGH, NH (CBS) – It was the way movies were watched for decades, but 35mm is no longer in style. Digital is not only the future it is the present, forcing small-town movie theaters like the Peterborough Community Theatre to modernize or roll up the red carpet.
“I was actually told by one studio ‘go digital or go away’,” says Roy Mills, who owns the Peterborough with his wife.
That message has Mills reeling because it costs tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade to digital equipment. Mills estimates he needs to raise up to $60,000.
“A lot of places are going to go out of business,” says Mills.
With fewer 35mm copies even being made, the theater gets movies four to eight weeks after their release date, and by that time many moviegoers have already seen them.
“It gets discouraging when you open the door and you have six people come in,” says Mills. “I just showed Lincoln. It’s been out two months.”
And over the next couple of years 35mm film copies may not even be available.
And so begins a fundraising effort for the digital equipment, and the owners will rely heavily on donations. Moviegoers at today’s matinee say they are eager to pitch in to save the local landmark.
“I certainly will do my part and I hope everybody else does because we need to keep the theater here in Peterborough,” said Priscilla Bourgoine. Her two companions, at the theater to see Les Miserables, agreed.
The theater will celebrate 100 years of business next year, and the owners hope it will survive to make it to that special day.