crowdfunding film Campaigns

Repercussions of Cinematic Digitisation: Northfield Drive-in theatre opts to crowdfund the conversion costs


Crowdfunding for the film industry. The past couple of years have witnessed Hollywood distributing the films on digital prints stored on a hard drives as against the customary celluloid reels. The argument is that digital cinema projection equipments will resolve costs and space issues faced by the studios. While a digital copy may cost the studios around $125-150, its counterpart 35mm prints costs as much as $2,000. The catch is that it can cost cinema halls $150,000 to $180,000 in upgrades and the silver screen owners are forced to follow the trend of digital conversion. About 85 per cent have already done so, leaving about 10,000 screens to decide on the further course of action. About one in every five screens in North America could very well go out of business because they cannot afford to do so.

Northfield Drive-in Theatre in Winchester, US could be one such theatre if it fails to raise at least $40,000 in its desperate bid to stave off a shutdown. By 2014, it is expected that none of the major motion picture companies will offer 35mm copies of their films. While leading film theatres worldwide have started the digital conversion, many have chosen to quit the field than pay for the costly conversion. For its need of funds, the Drive-in is hoping some support from its fans. The theatre has started a crowd-funding campaign on the known crowd-funding site – Kickstarter. Drive-in has pledged to raise at least $40,000 via this crowdfunding campaign. If it does meet its target by 11:59 p.m. of Nov.12 then the theatre won’t receive anything. A sum of $40,000 or more would cushion a good chunk of its $150,000-180,000 cost of upgrades before the theatre start digital operations in April, as expected the owners.

Maintaining the Kickstarter spirit, the Drive-in is offering its fans a reward for extending their support. Below are some of the rewards –

  • A free small popcorn  for those donating $10
  • Invitation to a donors’ night at the theatre for $100 donors
  • A season pass to a family of four earns to Drive-in for $2,500 donors, and
  • Anyone promising $10,000 or more gets the Drive-in for private events as well. There are rewards against other amounts as well.

According to the cinema owner Mitchell Shakour, the projector costs at least $60,000; and $100,000 or more will be spent on additional items. Some of the key items include – three-phase electricity and broadband access in the projection booth, maintenance costs of the projector, heat, fire and burglar alarms. If the upgrade comes about on time, then the theatre will show its first digital film – “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in April.

On Kickstarter page, the campaign has raised $10,458 with 171 backers from as far as Texas, Washington, and even Australia.

(A week ago, a crowdfunding campaign by New York City for its goal of $ 1 million failed big time to attract any backers at Kickstarter. We hope that the Drive-in theatre doesn’t meet the same fate and can upgrade itself digitally on time)

Final Thoughts

On Kickstarter page, the campaign has raised $10,458 with 171 backers from as far as Texas, Washington, and even Australia. (A week ago, a crowdfunding campaign by New York City for its goal of $ 1 million failed big time to attract any backers at Kickstarter. We hope that the Drive-in theatre doesn’t meet the same fate and can upgrade itself digitally on time)

Overall Score 5

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