The primary challenge right now for small-town theaters is not the lack of market or community support in patronizing the theater; it is in fact the financial resources needed to obtain digital equipment necessary to show movies. HERO has a three-stage plan to raise funds necessary to purchase the theater and upgrade the equipment so the theater can re-open and become a cornerstone for Webster City’s downtown once again.
The Webster Theater was built in 1906. It opened as the Orpheum Theater on November 29, 1909 and operated as a vaudeville theater until 1916 when the Orpheum Theater moved to a new building right next door named the E. H. Martin Building and began showing silent movies. In the 1920’s the Orpheum was remodeled and renamed the Granada Theater. The main floor seated 600 and the balcony held 150 patrons. Then in 1939 it became The Webster and the marquee was added. Around 1988 Bob Fridley of Fridley Theatres purchased the Webster Theater. It was remodeled at that time to the current seating capacity of 320. The Webster was operated by Fridley Theatres until the mid-2000’s, when it was taken over by the BigTime Cinema chain. The last showing was Warm Bodies on March 7th 2013.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Help Entertain and Restore Organization (HERO) is committed to opening the Webster City Movie Theatre once again. The closing of small-town theaters is rumored to be not so uncommon in the industry. With the advent of Redbox and Netflix, going out to the movies is perceived to be declining in popularity. Yet … yet, there is still a vibrant market that wants to go to the movies.
According to Entertainment Weekly, “Americans spent many of their hard-earned dollars at the movies — Movie theaters sold an estimated $10.84 billion worth of tickets domestically in 2012, beating the previous record of $10.59 billion set in 2009, and marking a new record in terms of revenue earned in a single calendar year.
The primary challenge right now for small-town theaters is not the lack of market or community support in patronizing the theater; it is in fact the financial resources needed to obtain digital equipment necessary to show movies. The national film exhibition industry is rapidly converting exclusively to digital projection, by mid-2014, new movies will cease being released on 35mm film. This forces a theatre- if it is going to remain open- to convert to digital equipment, an approximate $80,000 investment.
WHAT’S THE FIX?
HERO has a three-stage plan to raise funds necessary to purchase the theater and upgrade the equipment so the theater can re-open and become a cornerstone for Webster City’s downtown once again.
1. Buy the physical location and complete necessary repairs. The building is for sale for $45,000. Wells Fargo has agreed to match funds and accepted HERO’s offer of $22,500 for the building. Cost of repairs for the building is anticipated to be around $10,000.
2. Upgrade to digital equipment and install a screen that will be appropriate for the movies being shown. This will cost $80,000 and does include 3d.
3. Open the movie theatre under the direction of a nonprofit board with a full time paid manager and part time paid satff. The goal is to have a year’s worth of operating costs ($131,280) raised from donors.
These total project costs are just around $245,000.
Conservative (and realistic) projections for theater operations show the Webster Theater will financially sustain itself as other community- owned theaters are currently doing.
Be a HERO
• Give lots of money
• Give what money you can
• Give your time/talents
• Spread the word
• Be a future patron
Find more information at www.facebook.com/SaveTheWebster