TUPPER LAKE — The State Theater has achieved funding needed for digital projection.
It is one of 10 regional Adirondack movie theaters supported by the Adirondack North Country “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign.
All major movie companies are switching to a digital format this fall, but the cost to renovate a small theater to accommodate the new technology has proved challenging.
Sally Strasser, owner of the State Theater, was faced with a $95,000 bill to install digital equipment. But with local help, she raised that funding through hard work in a dedicated community.
The outreach began Aug. 1. By Tuesday morning, the State Theater’s goal was met.
In an interview Wednesday, Strasser was notably thrilled.
“Oh my God, I’m so excited. Our little town!” she said, talking a mile a minute. “I’ve been here 11 years, and when I moved here, I saw what the community is like — the way everybody is here with helping each other. The incredible thing is this is such a teeny-tiny town; it’s amazing what we do here.”
What’s amazing is the $60,000 raised for the State Theater in less than a month.
“It all just started snowballing,” Melissa Hart, communications specialist at ANCA, told the Press-Republican.
“I mean $60,000 raised since Aug. 1? Things just went crazy.”
Strasser received a $35,000 initial grant earlier this summer and the ball kept going.
On Aug. 1, the Tupper Lake Arts Council announced a donation of $10,000 donation, with a matching $5,000 grant.
“Around the same time, the Gull Pond Association started its own matching challenge, spearheaded by a $5,000 donation by the Sellin family, that resulted in a whopping $16,200 raised over just three weeks,” an ANCA news release relayed.
“An additional spirit of generosity from the Belleville family created a matching gift of $5,000. Each challenge was reached by the time it took to tally and record the checks that were flying in the door.
“Once they caught wind of this remarkable effort, Stewart’s Shops volunteered to close the gap, making a $5,000 contribution.”
The remarkable “Go Digital” campaign success in Tupper Lake means Strasser can keep the small Main Street movie house open.
But it will take a month or so to install new wiring, renovate the projection booth and install the new equipment, she said.
“The technology is awesome; it is really, really cool,” Strasser said, despite the challenge to achieve digital innovation.
“The equipment doesn’t look like much. It’s probably about 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet by a foot high. It also has a whole lot of electronics and security features, or you can’t get content. These movie files are locked, and they send you a key that unlocks that film for that projector for a specific amount of time.
“That’s why they cost so much. A big theater is in a much better position to buy this kind of thing. They have Virtual Print Fee program for this movie format.”
Strasser is placing the order for the equipment now.
“As soon as it gets here, we’ll start installing. Sept. 6 will be the first day the theater is closed. We’re going to do modifications to the projection booth to make room.
“Depending on what the company’s lead time is, I’m planning to reopen in October.”
Keeping the theater rolling in Tupper Lake allowed many to breathe a sigh of virtual relief.
“I am so proud to be a part of this community,” Eileen Hayes of the Tupper Lake Arts Council said in a statement.
“Time after time, Tupper comes together for worthy endeavors, whether it is saving a movie theater, helping a sick child or easing the traumatic consequences of a fire.”
Gull Pond Association member Rena Sellin said the State Theater plays a vital role in Tupper Lake.
“We at Gull Pond are glad to do our part to keep its doors open, the movies playing and the popcorn popping.”
Local resident Susan Lawson helped coordinate the fundraising over the past month.
She said the real beauty in their community goes beyond the stunning lake and mountain views.
“The true magnificence is in the hearts of the people who live here,” Lawson said in the ANCA statement.
“Countless times Tupper Lakers rise to the occasion to do what needs to be done to preserve its people and community. Thank you to everyone who gave and those who would have if they were able.”
Strasser said the State Theater will hold a special event when they reopen to thank the entire community.
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