TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Movie theater closings continue to rise across the nation as Hollywood shifts to digital projection.
The improved technology is now forcing one local theater to close its doors for good. The Meadows Theater in Terre Haute is preparing for their final showings.
“I have memories of watching Bambi about 28 years ago, so I hate to see it go,” said Brent Barnhart, Co-Owner of Meadows Theater.
They’ve been bringing movie magic to those across the city for decades.
“It’s just a good movie theater, it was local, and I lived out this way. I was just surprised to see it’s closing,” said Reid Zoll, a movie patron.
For Barnhart it’s a matter of circumstance that he’s seen coming for nearly a decade.
“There are 40,000 screens in North America and only 8 percent are still running on film,” Barnhart said.
His theater is part of that small percentage still using 35mm film, an industry standard since 1910.
While the small theater hasn’t changed much since it opened in the Fall of 1970 the same can’t be said for the movie industry that has evolved dramatically. Converting to digital projection comes with a hefty price tag of $100,000.
“The centers owners met with us last year to discuss a rehabilitation of the building as well as an upgrade and the total cost was going to come in at about a quarter of a million dollars,” said Barnhart.
He adds even if they were to go through with the renovations there just isn’t enough business to make up for the loss. The theater that used to bustle with 80,000 moviegoers a year in 2000 has steadily declined, dropping to just 20,000.
“The studio’s are increasingly bringing DVD’s and Bluray’s out sooner and sooner, so where we used to fit in after the first run theater before the home market is almost non-existent,” explained Barnhart.
It may be a sign that small independent theaters, known for $1 showings, may be a thing of the past.
“We do regret having to close the doors for the people, especially the young people with families who can’t afford to go down South and pay the prices,” said Barnhart.
After Sunday the screens will go dark at Meadows Theater.
“I’m always sad to see the past leave us,” Zoll said.
For a list of final showing you can visit the Meadows Theater Facebook page at, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meadows-Theatre/269736350607