By Times Staff Reports
Posted Sep. 23, 2014 @ 5:09 pm


LITTLE FALLS — The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts hopes its push will be the missing piece in the movement to save Valley Cinemas.

With film companies switching from 35-millimeter film to digital, the 34-year-old Little Falls theater — already receiving fewer first-run movies — realized the need to transition.  But the new equipment will cost about $40,000 for each of the cinema’s two screens — money most small, independent theaters don’t have lying around.

That’s where the MVCA comes in.

With the help of donations, the organization wants to raise $50,000 it can use to purchase, then lease the digital projectors to Valley Cinemas.  That money will be combined with a $25,000 Empire State Development Grant and donations the cinema already has raised.

“The motion picture industry is essentially eliminating many smaller theaters with the digital conversion mandate. The problem is not unique to our area. We’ve done our homework on this issue and the MVCA will do whatever we can to help support and maintain this valuable, creative, community resource,” said MVCA Executive Director Kevin Mihaly.

“We also believe that with the conversion to digital, Valley Cinemas will be in a better financial position by having a improved revenue model,” he added.

The MVCA will own the digital equipment over the lease period and receive theater programming opportunities.  Campaign contributors have the option to receive business advertising through Valley Cinemas’ on screen advertising program.  For residents Christine and David Van Meter, who have six children, the theater is crucial.

“If our family goes to a movie in Utica it can cost more than $100. Valley Cinemas brings quality movies for much less,” said Christine Van Meter.  “They also provide free movies weekly to children all summer and several times throughout the year. Many children would never be able to go to a movie in a theater without the Cinema,” added David Van Meter.

Little Falls resident and entrepreneur Martin Babinec said developments in the movie industry the past several years have made it hard for small theaters to generate enough sales to meet the high cost of converting to digital projectors.  “Other small communities have already lost their theaters. The MVCA plan makes sense as once the digital systems are installed, Valley Cinemas’ outlook for the future is encouraging,” he said.

Some estimates show the U.S. will lose nearly 1,000 small movie theaters due to the switch from 35-millimeter film to digital.  The conversion is expected to save movie companies millions since they will no longer need to produce films that traditionally have been shipped around the country from theater to theater.  To contribute to the campaign, checks may be made payable to Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts – Valley Cinema Campaign and mailed to the MVCA at 401 Canal Place, Little Falls, NY 13365.