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On viewing an old 1939 industrial/sales film—made by the Jam Handy company in Detroit—on Archive.org, actor James Dunn walks past and stops in front of a gorgeous old deco theatre. After some detective work, I discovered the theatre is this one—the 2000 seat Westown. The giveaway was a sign above the entrance directing patrons to park in a lot on Fenkell Avenue—obviously around the corner—also the letter “W” above the poster frame.
Too many independent operators are falling for commercial companies outrageous quotes to convert to digital. Best idea is to get as many estimates as possible!
As a former owner of a low budget independent theatre, I would go online to projectorcentral.com and find models of DLP projectors over 10,000 lumens and just run DVDs of either classics or 2nd run current movies. A lot of the cost for professional digital is the servers, consoles and 3D units.
As a former owner of an independent theatre, I would go online to projectorcentral.com and find models of DLP projectors over 10,000 lumens and just run DVDs of either classics or 2nd run current movies. A lot of the cost for professional digital is the servers, consoles and 3D units.
The theatres I run my classics in have no problem booking with the film companies and we find a suitable DVD of their picture. (with today’s gorgeous transfers and high quality and high lumen projection we get EXCELLENT quality on the screen!
WHERE did they get an estimate so high for digital??
The above article is a call for PRESERVATION for the THEATRE—not an opportunity to get some valuable old sound equipment cheap. There is no old sound equipment left in the building. I have been getting calls/emails requesting this.
While I love the old projection equipment—especially the days of carbon arc and reel changes, the reality in the last 20 years has not been as good. Way too often movies were out of focus, film damage and scratches and other unprofessional exhibition just made the experience—especially in classic film venues less than good.
As an operator that uses high-end digital projection for classic shows, my audiences love the sharp, bright and beautiful presentation with today’s digital experience. Distributors have relatively few decent 35mm prints of classics any longer and the outrageous shipping cost for prints really hurt the small time exhibitor.
The console is originally from Loew’s Theatre, New Rochelle, NY. Back in the late 50s or early 60s, organman Dick Loderhouse sold the console and relay seperately to the man I bought it from last summer. I am re-creating the spec of original ranks, but it is not an intact original instrument.
At last, someone who will be charging reasonable admission and cares about the customer! The Patio is a great historic theatre—hope that original Barton pipe organ will be played often!
It’s too bad the original facade wasn’t restored to look like a theatre with marquee. The present facade isn’t very theatre-like.
Asking price is quite high for a small-town theatre.
Since I live in Toledo, Ohio, I’d like to be close enough to the organ’s new home theatre to maintain it and enjoy hearing it. A theatre would need to still have organ chambers or room enough for the pipework as well as the console. The venue would also have to have a budget for proper installation. For those in other areas desiring theatre organs, go to atos.org
Over the years in the many theatres I’ve been in—I rarely see 35mm film projected properly—either out of focus, ghosting due to worn projector or other annoyances.
35mm’s apex was in the 1960s when all theatres still had professional projectionists in the booth, prints were well processed and presentation was king.
I would think there would be some way around this—or at least an aftermarket adaptation. Ken’s comment above was right. If all else fails, a small town exhibitor can do like I did when I owned a theatre—play 2nd run and pop classics that are available on DVD or Blu-Ray.
There is a way for the small exhibitor to at least save on digital projection equipment. DON’T consider the high-priced commercial equipment if you have a screen under 25 feet wide. I use a commercial Panasonic 7000 lumen DLP for my classics at area theatres and get a gorgeous picture. The secret is to stick with DLP format and over 7000 lumens. I paid $5k for my unit so even with long throw lenses, for decent digital non-3D projection you shouldn’t have to invest over $12k and buy directly from good AV firms online and save the big commission and installation fees a middleman will charge.
Another thought….you have a fantastic historic theatre in your town with a mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ—-why not co-op with them for a film series—have the organ played before the show and during intermission. You could do silent films, too. (Public Domain titles include Phantom of the Opera and Keaton’s The General which would probably require no rental fees if digitally projected)
35mm film is VERY expensive to rent, transport to and from your location and not always as clean, sharp and trouble-free as digital. WHY would you want to run 16mm? To get a bright enough picture on a large screen, you would need a high-intensity type projector (expensive)and since the film size is so small, it is hard to get a sharp focus on the screen. Good quality transfer DVDs and Blu-Rays look great on a big screen. We run a classic movie series in a theatre with a 25 foot screen with professional quality DLP digital projection and it looks far better than the worn, soft focus classic film prints available from most distributors. Digital is SO much better now than even a few years ago. Invest in a good quality DLP digital projector with at least 5000 lumens for medium size screens, and over 7000 lumens for larger screens up to 20 feet wide.
It is very easy to do your own booking. Single screens have a slim enough profit (if any) margin without adding unnecessary expenses.
I booked myself for the 5 years I owned a theatre and it is as easy as keeping your eye on boxoffice statistics online then booking what is making money.
I have had experience with this type of seat before. Since they have wooden backs, they are obviously originally designed for schools or civic auditoriums. They are high quality—but not especially valuable.
Bob Allen is right—those classic projectors were designed to run forever if they are maintained properly—keeping oil levels up in the intermittents, gears greased, etc. You should be able to find some used equipment cheap. Some collectors might be able to help you. Go to 35mmforum.com
The biggest challenge should be to convert to digital—it won’t be many years before 35mm film will be mostly phased out. Digital has come a long way and is excellent quality now. I use DLP projection with minimum of 8000 lumens—for commercial theatres your size.
In our area we are doing well with classics on theatre screens. The secret is using high quality digital transfers of old movies and high quality professional-grade digital projection. It’s difficult to get good 35mm prints of classics any more, and the film companies will gladly book classic titles and you supply the regular or blu-ray dvd.
We have gorgeous sharp, bright projection—and no huge expense of shipping heavy film cans back and forth. Like it or not, at the rate many theatres are converting, film will be a thing of the past.
Truly the last historic theatre still operating in Toledo, the Westwood has very nice original decor from the 1920s, but in very rough condition—but certainly worth restoring.
The two large organ chambers await another theatre pipe organ to bring a soul to the restored theatre hopefully someday!
The earlier comment was from mistaken memory….the theatre near Central and Monroe was the old Colony Theatre, now long gone. The Tivoli is in East Toledo down the street from the original Tony Packo’s restaurant.
The Savoy must have been designed for full Vaudeville, due to a very large stagehouse. The theatre itself was only about 30 feet wide with a deep balcony. Demolished in the 1990s?
Both Royal and the Loop were demolished in the 1960s thanks to urban renewal.
The Liberty has been a church for many years.
The Esquire was demolished to make way for the new county arena.
There remains only one downtown theatre, open or closed, the Valentine, which has been redone as a performing arts center.