Small town movie theaters face closure

We are still in the infancy of the digital age and all the changes which is also ushering out technology that was "state of the art" 20 or 30 years ago.

Such is the case in Canyon as the Varsity theatre is looking at massive digital upgrades or face the reality of closing it's doors, forever.

Just about every time the marquis changes at the varsity theatre, Sharon Stevens and her husband, who run the Buffalo Bookstore just down from the theatre, are in line for a date night.

"It's only $5 a person and my husband and I go for a date for about 20 dollars and stuff," Sharon told us.

But those dates might be numbered. The projector and the sound system, high tech back in the 70's and still used on incoming films are being phased out...switching over to new technology.

35mm film will be replaced with digital hard drives, new high tech sound systems are also required and all over the country, non-digital theatres now face upgrades or upset with doors closing.

In the case of the varsity, new equipment and electrical upgrades will cost more than $100,000, according to operator, Garry Cathey.

"It's 91,000.00 for the sound and projector but we need electrical which is another 25,000.00, " said Cathey.

"That's a lot of popcorn!" I replied.

"That's several large popcorns, " he said with a smile, noting that his prices for admission and concessions are a lot lower than the giant cine-plexes.

Garry and some different groups are trying to find available grants or funding to keep the images up on that screen that has seen some of Hollywood's greats for almost 65 years.

"I'm optimistic something will happen," he said. "Someone will come up with a solution and option to keep the theatre open."

If the upgrades can be brought in, it will be welcome news to people like Sharon and others who say it's as much the building as what's on the screen that keep them going back.

"You go in, sitting there and the lights go down, and its kind of run down like our store, "The Buffalo Bookstore," and it's the whole experience."

Garry echoed those sentiments, but added, "It's to the point of no return. we have to convert or go away."

If not, the old Varsity may go the way of the old studio owned theatres, and the only images left on the screen will be passing reflections of cars driving by.