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Ridgefield Playhouse Goes Digital For Movie Showings

There will be no more reel-to-reel movies being shown at the Ridgefield Playhouse after Sunday, May 12, the 500 seat theater will begin showing digital films  the next day.
There will be no more reel-to-reel movies being shown at the Ridgefield Playhouse after Sunday, May 12, the 500 seat theater will begin showing digital films the next day. Photo Credit: Contributed by The Ridgefield Playhouse

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. - Reel-to-reel movies will be a thing of the past at the Ridgefield Playhouse after Sunday, May 12. The 500-seat theater will begin showing digital films  the next day.

The 2013 movie "G.I. Joe - Retaliation" will be the last 35-millimeter film shown at the Playhouse before it begins the transition to the new digital projection on Monday, May 13.

“As the motion picture industry heads into the ‘digital only’ format, many smaller theaters are being forced to give up their film projectors and replace them with digital ones. The Ridgefield Playhouse, which was built in 1939, is a wonderful old movie theater, but we are not antiquated,” said Allison Stockel, executive director of the Playhouse. “It’s important that we stay current … and staying current isn’t always affordable."

Many donors recognized the desire of the Playhouse to continue showing films, including Val and Greg Jensen, who are opening The Prospector next year, Stockel said. Because of the donors, the Playhouse was able to purchase and install the new digital projector.

The cost for a small theater to transition to digital is about $70,000 to $80,000 per screen, said John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Association of Theater Owners. By the end of this year, film versions of movies won't be made available by distributors, he said.

Switching to digital will also mean that the Playhouse will be able to participate in film festivals with The Prospector when it opens next year.

“This is particularly exciting to me,” Stockel said, "because we're within walking distance of one another as are many wonderful restaurants, which would be a great thing for the town.”

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