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July 29, 2013

Historic Farmington Civic Theater converts to digital projection

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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Historic Farmington Civic Theater converts to digital projection
The Farmington Civic Theater has a new reason to boast after converting to digital projection recently.

FARMINGTON — The historic Farmington Civic Theater turned digital recently, after showing 35mm films since opening in 1940.

“Films are disappearing, and if we wanted to stay in business, we had to change over,” Farmington Civic Theater general manager Scott Freeman told C & G recently. “Even though (we) are in a small, 1940s-era theater, the sound is awesome; the picture is a lot cleaner and crisper and richer. The vividness has so much impact from what we’ve had before. We’ve gotten a lot of comments on our Facebook page. They love new technology in the historic building.”

The Farmington Civic Theater converted both of its screens to a digital projection system July 15 and 16, a press release stated; the first digital films were shown July 17.  

The city-owned theater spent about $160,000 on the project, which is being handled by Progressive Cinema Solutions of Farmington, Freeman said.

“It was one of those things that we knew we had to do, but it is very expensive,” he said. “So I put it off for as long as I thought we could.”

He added that because the theater is making money, that “afforded us the opportunity to reinvest that money to improve the facility.”

Because film companies are transitioning to digital, Freeman said, the theater had to follow suit.

“It has been happening for quite a few years now,” he said. “The two major filmmakers, Kodak and Fujifilm, are going to stop making the 35mm film.”

The conversion will include digital infrastructure, such as a sound upgrade to Dolby 7.1 surround, new speakers and 3-D movies in the upstairs theater, the press release said; because the downstairs theater screen needs to remain retractable, a 3-D screen would not work.

The 3-D screen upstairs is 21 by 9 feet; the downstairs screen is 23.6 by 13.4 feet.

Farmington Civic Theater operations manager Lisa Marculewicz said that although she had some concerns about switching to digital, she likes the new look of the screens.

“I was a little bit apprehensive about the whole thing at first,” she said. “I didn’t want to lose the old-time feel of the theater, but they did a really good job of keeping the whole feel, but bringing in the big-time theater movie experience. With all the other updates we’ve been doing, it flows. Customers noticed the difference right away; the sound is very vibrant, all around you.”

More information is available at www.theFCT.com and by calling (248) 474-1951.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.