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Small-Town Theaters Grapple With Digital Film Conversion

OPB | Dec. 31, 2012 6 a.m. | Portland, OR

Contributed By:

April Baer

In 2013 major film studios will phase out 35-millimeter prints in favor of a digital format. April Baer reports that means Oregon’s independent theaters are facing a huge capital expenditure.

One of the only sources of entertainment in the eastern Oregon town of Burns is the Desert Historic Theater.

Owner Tiny Pederson and his wife, Sue need to find $55,000 for a new digital projector. By the end of next year, Pederson says, the studios will only ship him films in the new digital format.

Tiny Pederson: “That’s not only Burns, Oregon, that’s every small town in Oregon and across the United States.”

One of Tiny’s employees, a high school senior, decided to try to raise the cash. So far, the campaign has several thousand dollars.

Pederson says he’s concerned other theaters around the region might not survive the transition.


But some have rallied. Lincoln City’s Bijou Theater recently used Kickstarter to raise $40,000 for its upgrade.

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