|Updated: 10/02/2012 4:56 pm
||Published: 10/01/2012 4:10 pm
MORRILTON, AR - There are three brand-new digital projectors at North Plaza Cinema in Morrilton. The owners are happy about the purchase in one sense because their customers get a better product. On the other hand though ...
"The not happy part is paying for it," said North Plaza Cinema Owner Mary Ellen Cheek.
The projector switch is a must because Hollywood is switching too, from old-school 35-millimeter film to digital. That means theaters like Cheek's have to keep up, or else.
"I don't think we would have any choice except to shut our doors," she said.
But here's the problem: all of the new equipment can be very expensive. For instance, North Plaza Cinema bought their three new digital projectors for more than $90,000 total. Making matters worse, the $90,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. That's because North Plaza also had to buy a ton of equipment to go with the new projectors, bringing their final cost to more than $180,000.
"We hope that we'll take in enough revenue to pay it back," explained Cheek. "That's the plan."
All theaters may not be so lucky though. The National Association of Theater Owners says some venues, especially smaller ones, will have to close because of the added expenses -- they just aren't sure how many.
North Plaza Cinema thinks they'll survive. Whether or not they turn a profit though is a different story.
"It'll be very difficult if we can turn a profit this year," said Cheek, "but we hope in time that we'll level out, and we will be able to make a little money in this."
According to the National Association of Theater Owners, about 78% of theater have already made the switch to digital projectors. That's out of almost 40,000 theaters nationwide. They say some communities are so worried about losing their theaters, they're actually hosting fund-raisers to help pay for new equipment.