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From John C. Mensore

By Staff | Jun 6, 2012

You walk into a room and take your seat. You look around and you are surrounded by strangers. You could be taken to prison or pursued by a killer or you could soon be surrounded by talking animals or launched into outer space. You may get to travel to Egypt, Las Vegas, mars, or a high school gym in Indiana. You’re not dreaming; you are very awake. You’re not far away; you are very close to home. I assure you that you are perfectly safe. You’re probably very happy, and you’re probably with your spouse, a friend, a child, or a grandchild.

You will, for a few hours, forget about your daily problems. You, for a few hours, will share the same experience as people in New York or Hong Kong. You are getting ready to enjoy a movie at your local cinema. For decades, people in both large and small towns have had access to the magic of the movies. There is a change taking place in Hollywood though; studios are soon going to phase out distributing movies on film.

When Hollywood quits distributing movies on film and goes to pristine digital, thousands of movie theaters will close. When film distribution stops, film projectors stop. Projectors that have serviced us for decades will become worthless. Cinemas are facing a digital dilemma; theater owners need to decide whether or not to make a huge investment of around $70,000 per screen to buy new projection equipment just to stay in business.

We have been lucky to have fantastic ownership for our local cinema. Ticket prices and concessions are reasonable. They get the newest films just as fast as the multiplexes. They have done an outstanding job; they have provided a community service.

The local cinema to me is a community service. It is used more than the public pool or tennis courts. It is a safe, secure place where we can send our children to go out with their friends. It’s a place that caters to people from three to 93.

If our cinema can’t make the transition to digital, what will kids do on Friday nights? Will they go to a place as safe and secure as Valley Cinema 3? How much more will it cost to go to the movies?

The multiplex ticket prices and concessions are much higher. Don’t forget the $4 gas. With a local cinema, you can go to a movie on a rainy day. It takes two hours, and you’re back home. Travel 40 miles both ways, and that same movie took four hours of your time and cost five times as much. Many kids will never get to go to the movies under those circumstances. This is a world wide issue with a local impact that has gotten little press.

John C. Mensore

New Martinsville