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Wendy Reuer, Published November 13 2012

Fargo Theatre trying to raise $80,000 for digital conversion

FARGO – The Fargo Theatre kicked off a campaign Tuesday to raise enough money to convert to digital film showings by March.

The theater already is more than halfway to its goal of $200,000 to convert both screens inside the historic building on Fargo’s Broadway. About $120,000 has been gathered so far, according to Emily Beck, Fargo Theatre executive director.

The switch to digital is necessary because production companies soon will no longer produce or distribute productions on 35 millimeter film.

“If we don’t do this, we are toast,” said former Executive Director Margie Bailey.

The theater now screens shows on 35 millimeter film, which was standard for many theaters for generations.

Production companies send 35 millimeter film to theaters on large, heavy reels. Theaters then pay to ship the reels back to the production companies or to other theaters, Beck said.

The digital formats will arrive on jump drives small enough to fit into the palm of a hand. The change is expected to save the production companies millions, Beck said.

“This mandate has come down from the industry, and they’ve definitely drawn a line in the sand,” she said.

Beck said the expensive change from film to digital showings will mean death to many small-town theaters that cannot afford the conversion.

The Fargo Film Festival’s future also would be threatened without digital showings, Beck said. Most of the teams produce the festival movies using digital software.

The theater will continue to show 35 millimeter after the changeover when possible.

To donate, log on to www.FargoTheatre.org or visit the theater’s concession stand.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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