By Katie Brace

MILLBURY (CBS) – The Elm Draught House Cinema in Millbury projects the days of yesteryear. Jim Perry plays the role of steward to this almost 100-year old theater. He bought it 20 years ago.

“I came here through high school. I came here through college. I came here through date nights,” Perry said.

Like one of the horror movie posters that decorates inside, the coronavirus forced Perry to press pause on the comedy shows and movies.

“I was like, what am I going to do?” Perry said.

Jim Perry owner of Elm Draught House Cinema (WBZ-TV)

He was running out of options that would allow him to reopen.

“One bank denied me. Another bank said you don’t have any income coming in,” said Perry.

“Little Women” was playing when the theater closed with thousands of dollars in bills. The plot did not look good for Perry. But it turns out the cinema means as much to his patrons as it does him.

“People come to the Elm,” said Art Martin. Regular attendee turned friend, Art Martin started a GoFundMe page.

Elm Draught House Cinema in Millbury (WBZ-TV)

“Other businesses are struggling and I felt, why would someone want to give to this business. But, when you really think about it if this business goes out of business, it won’t come back,” said Martin.

At first, he did not tell his friend.

“Set the goal at $5,000 I figured if nothing else I’ll do the $5,000,” said Martin.

The community saved the day. To date they donated almost $25,000.

“I started sleeping at nights again the weight was off my shoulders because I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” Perry said.

Jim Perry now says he is living the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

“Like George Bailey, Jimmy Stewart, when everybody showed up and just was lie emptying their pockets to help out. Because it’s an institution that means a lot, to a lot of people,” said Perry.

That means when allowed to reopen the show will go on.

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