Reporting Lisa Fielding
BARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) – This summer, the fate of the beloved 85-year old Catlow Theater in Barrington was uncertain. It needed $100,000 to exchange the theater’s film projector for a new digital projector. In just a week, the community came together and came up with the money.
Last Friday, the theater debuted it’s new digital equipment and new sound system.
“When the new stuff came, the guy asked where he should put it, and I said ‘Put it under the Christmas tree,’” laughed Tim O’Conner, the Catlow’s co-owner.
O’Conner has reason to be as giddy as a kid at Christmas.
“We got a new screen, we got Dolby Digital Surround, new heating and air conditioning units, we had our sign painted, we’re getting new seats. It’s still going to be the same ole Catlow, it’s got the same old character, it’s just got state of the art equipment now. It’s just amazing,” said O’Conner.
Hollywood studios have vowed not to distribute their movies in any other format than digital after the end of 2013.
It took only a week to raise the $100,000 needed for the digital projector, but supporters continued to give throughout the rest of the 60-day donation period.
1,394 backers donated $175,395 to the Catlow through an online fundraiser over the summer.
O’Conner says the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
“Its been amazing, people keep coming in, they are offering support, wanting to buy seats. They want to do anything to help the Catlow survive.”
The Premiere screening debuted with “The Polar Express” to donors and friends and then to the public with the new James Bond film “Skyfall”. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was presented on Christmas Eve.
Smaller independent cinemas have had difficulty raising the additional funds for such a major capital improvement.
“We were lucky. We have such a supportive community. Others haven’t had as much success.”
O’Conner says the new equipment is opening new doors for them in many ways.
“Now we can have business meetings, we can show classic films, we can have matinees. It’s much easier to classic films or set up business meetings on the big screen through the projector now,” he said.