Central Cinema kickstarts to stay indie, go digital

Image: Central Cinema

Image: Central Cinema

It’s a familiar situation for independent movie theaters that have stubbornly fought to remain free of Hollywood constraints but don’t want to be left behind by technology. 21st and Union’s Central Cinema plans to launch a Kickstarter this Saturday, and is looking to crowdsource $60,000 to catch up with the big studios, and ultimately, survive.

“The switch to DCP [high-tech projectors] is something that the movie studios are starting to force onto theaters,” Central Cinema owner Kevin Spitzer tells us. The theater operating on one 35mm camera now needs $60,000 to upgrade to a DCP projector that Spitzer says in a year will become a necessity.

“Last year 20th Century Fox and Disney sent out letters stating that they were discontinuing 35mm film by the end of 2013… We have not been able to show any 20th Century Fox or Disney/BuenaVista/Touchstone/Pixar since last fall…The word coming down is that within a year almost all movie distribution will be for DCP systems.” Spitzer said they won’t phase out indie, and archival films, but that in order to stay a viable they need to change with the times.

Spitzer hopes to officially launch the Kickstarter campaign this Saturday – pending site approval – unveiling it at their ‘Totally 80’s Sing Along’. The Kickstarter will end on July 18 at a closing party Spitzer said. Though the $60,000 may seem like a high price tag, it’s actually more reasonable then it used to be.

“This is way down from $250k+ only eight years ago. Still $60K is a chunk to bite off all at once which is why we are looking for help from our fans,” Spitzer said of the DCP projector they hope to grab. The Central District theater also plans to put in $10,000 of their own money towards the project, as well as the physical labor needed to get it set up. Other costs will include fixtures and supporting equipment. The alternative to a DCP projector will put moviegoers on the edge of their seats.

Spitzer says if the Kickstarter fails to meet the goal the indie theater may turn to loans that may come with a financial hit. “Even with interest rates as low as they are the banks just aren’t interested in extending loans without putting up your house. We could probably scratch around and put several different personal loans together, but it would be a pretty scrappy way to make it happen.”

CHS recently reported on a similar — and ultimately successful — drive at 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum.

Despite the costs, Spitzer says the new film tech will increase the overall viewer experience.

“We think it will be a worthwhile thing for people to spend some of the money that they would already spend on movies and put it up front. We get help with the projector and they get to see a big improvement in the shows.”

You can contribute to the campaign starting Saturday, here, or stop by the cinema then for their 80’s Sing Along. An excuse to channel your inner David Bowie, or wear some leg warmers. Who could miss that?

Central Cinema 1411 21st Ave. Seattle, WA 98122


You demanded it and we heard your cries of “MORE 80’s! MORE 80’s!” By special arrangement, curator and host, Jason Miller is delivering an evening of 80’s TO THE MAXXX!!! On a Saturday Night! Now you can party all night long and not have to go to work the next day a totally 80’s hot mess!

Featuring 80’s titans like Prince, Madonna, MJ, Cyndi Lauper, this is one sing along that will have you out of your seat and dancing in the aisles! So BEAT IT down to Central Cinema and hopefully your PAPA DON”T PREACH at you when you roll in after the midnight hour WALKING ON SUNSHINE!

Tickets on sale now!
$10 in advance/ $12 day of show

Comments are closed.